Guests staying at Hilton Worldwide properties will soon be able to check in, choose their exact room and make special requests from their mobile devices, tablets and computers, the company announced today.
Digital check-in and room selection will be available at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties by the end of this year.
Next year, the McLean, Va.-based company will also introduce the technology to let guests unlock their hotel rooms with their smartphones.
"For nearly a century, our guests have counted on us to consistently deliver exceptional experiences around the world, and in today's digitally connected culture, that means providing them with more choice and control over their hotel stay through technology," Christopher Nassetta, Hilton Worldwide's president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement.
Hilton HHonors member will be able to sign into their accounts through their mobile devices, tablets or computers at 6 a.m. the day before they arrive to check in and select their room using floor maps or lists of available rooms. They can look at photos to help them decide.
Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide, says a recent internal online survey of 1,009 travelers found that 84% wanted to be able to choose their own room.
"We are giving our guests the ability to do just that by enabling them to select not just their room type, but the exact location in the hotel, all the way down to their room number," she says.
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After choosing the room, they can then purchase upgrades or ask for amenities to be delivered to their room before they even get to the hotel.
Once they are ready to leave, they won't have to go to the front desk to check out. Their bill will automatically be sent to their e-mail address. Digital check-out will begin rolling out at U.S. hotels this summer and will be available globally by the end of 2016.
The smartphone key technology will also be available at the majority of Hilton Worldwide properties by the end of 2016. Hilton's brands include Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and Hilton Garden Inn.
Other hotel companies are also experimenting with keyless entry. Starwood Hotels and Resorts is testing out virtual keys at the Aloft Harlem in New York and Aloft Cupertino in California.
"Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms," Nassetta said.
Robert Cole, founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting firm, says that if Hilton executes the new technology well, it could be a game-changer for the industry.
"If the hotels can streamline the process where travelers can seamlessly book, select the best room for their needs, check-in and pay without stopping at a desk to complete merely administrative tasks, it's fantastic," he says. "It saves the hotel labor cost and also frees the staff to focus on providing hospitality to help guests have better travel experiences."