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Ditch the Hotel Key Card And Grab A Smartphone Instead

By Jeremy Bradley


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The way you enter your hotel room may be changing.

In November, Starwood Hotels and Resorts – which owns more than 1,100 hotels worldwide – introduced new technology that allows guests to select their room, check-in and eventually even unlock the door with just a few taps on their smartphone. The technology, rolled out at 10 Aloft, Element and W hotels, is part of a new wave of high-tech hotel experiences.

Hilton Worldwide is taking the smartphone key global. The copmany has announced that by the end of next year, digital check-in and room selection – either from floor plans or lists – will be available at more than 4,000 hotels across Hilton’s portfolio of 11 brands.

Starting in 2015, Hilton says it will implement a system that enables mobile devices to be used as room keys. All U.S. hotels across four brands will be equipped with this technology by the end of next year, according to the company. They say the majority of rooms around the world will have keyless entry by the following year.
Ditch the Hotel Key Card And Grab A Smartphone Instead
(caption: The Hilton app’s Select a Room feature)

“We’ve already seen technology disrupt many industries, including ours,” said Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide. “Our guests want to connect with us whenever, wherever and however they choose. They expect this – and we are committed to delivering the digital tools necessary to enable this interaction.”

Hilton has invested $550 million to overhaul IT infrastructure and unify property management systems since being acquired by The Blackstone Group in 2007, and Calpin says the ability to deliver its digital strategy quickly and broadly is an advantage.

“The fact that we’ve deployed the innovation at scale – across 4,100-plus properties globally – really sets us apart,” explained Calpin. “Hilton individually created digital floor plans for more than 650,000 rooms and trained 40,000 team members on the technology.”

Customer feedback through research based off of guest surveys, review sites and social media played a critical role in developing Hilton’s digital check-in technology. The company learned that two-thirds of travelers wish they could choose their own hotel room, 30 percent dislike waiting for their room to be ready and 28 percent disapprove of its location. Their new technology addresses all of those concerns.
Ditch the Hotel Key Card And Grab A Smartphone Instead
Check out the new check-in
To access the technology, a customer must be a Hilton HHonors member. On the day before a booked stay, they sign into their account via smartphone, tablet or computer. They can then check-in and choose their specific room – right down to the room number – using digital floor plans, photos and lists. Guests can also use the app to pre-purchase upgrades or amenities like a bottle of bubbly or an extra pillow.

Once guests arrive at the hotel, they pick up their key and head to what Hilton hopes is their ideal room. Of course, if travelers are going to a keyless entry room, then they can skip the lobby completely and use their smartphone to unlock the door. Digital check-out, currently available at all of Hilton’s U.S. hotels, will be rolled out globally by the end of 2016.

If you’re wondering if this means the demise of the front desk staffer, Hilton says the technology will offer a better experience, online and in person.

“Our new digital tools enable us to run a more efficient operation, freeing up our team members from administration processes to focus on better serving each guest,” Calpin said.

Hilton says it’s not catering their technology to a specific demographic, but they could benefit from engaging digital natives. The millennial generation, typically defined as those in their twenties and early thirties, will make up half the workforce by 2020. And studies show business travel in general has increased over the last year.

“It hasn’t happened overnight but it is here to stay, travelers want to call the shots,” said Calpin.

Other hotel chains are experimenting with the use of mobile technology as well. InterContinental offers mobile check-in and push notifications to guests’ smartphones, and more than 1,200 of Marriott’s hotels have mobile check-in and check-out, with plans of expanding to over 4,000 by year’s end.

Jeremy Bradley is a Multimedia Journalist based in New York City. His work as a producer has been featured on CNN, CNN Digital and CNBC. As a writer, he has published articles to and Forbes.

Source : Forbes Samsung BusinessVoice

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