How does a 98 year old company like the Hilton stay relevant in today’s ‘always on’ world. Geraldine Calpin, CMO at Hilton Worldwide enlightened us at Web Summit 2017.
The aim for Hilton is to use technology to open doors, close sales and win the hearts of their customers.
One app to rule them all
Hilton recognises the ‘always on’ connectivity of customers and their expectation to be able to control their life from their phones. Consequently, the hotel and resort brand wants to allow customers to enjoy great experiences with really good technology.
Not simply using technology for the sake of it, but to give people a better experience and encourage loyalty.
The challenge was 14 brands with 5,000 hotels and customers who want their stay to be consistent across the hotels. So Hilton developed one ‘Hero’ app consolidating all their apps across each of their brands.
“Surprising and delighting your customers” is the aim according to Calpin. If customers get the right experience through digital channels, than they “become your marketers.”
Digital check-in, room key and maps
Calpin highlighted how customers who open the Hilton app are looking for a discrete experience, and once they find it, they never want to lose it. That makes a good mobile app become “sticky technology to deliver a better experience”, and shouldn’t just meet their needs, but also anticipating them, too.
For two years now, the app has let guests check-in the day before their stay and choose a room. Hilton are still the only hotel that has this functionality.
Digital check-in through the app lets you choose which room and floor you desire, whether you want to be near a vending or ice machine or away from the lifts. Hilton has now overlaid the feature with Google maps, so guests can see where the room they have chosen is located, as well as what its window overlooks, including which street, park etc.
Having stayed in many rooms that did not have a great view and were overlooking a roof or parking lot this would be very tempting.
Guests can also favourite their room so they know which one to choose if they go back to the same hotel again. And as well as offering the convenience of using your smartphone as a digital key you can also check out via the app and receive your receipt.
These features are all the more pertinent when one considers a 2013 study from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration which found that shorter check-in times leads to greater guest satisfaction. Specifically, a wait of just five minutes caused a 50 point decrease in satisfaction.
Live chat and personalisation
This nearly century old company has an award-winning, highest-rated hospitality app, but Hilton isn’t stopping there said Calpin. The next goal is to “move from being a cruise liner to a speedboat.”
Hilton now offers ‘live chat’ so customers can message a hotel they are staying in to improve their experience – for those treats or additional items guests want waiting for them when they arrive or more pillows or extra towels in their room when they get back in the evening.
Even after a stay, guests can chat with the hotel to recover items they may have left in their room, for example.
The hotel brand is also trying to personalise how a guest is welcomed when they arrive in their room. The TV set doesn’t just greet guests by name, but carries their preferred entertainment channels, for example.
Even room service is being improved by the app. Think how many times guests order room service and then wonder if they have time to take a shower? The app tracks an order from the oven to the room door.
Calpin also added her voice to a panel during the Summit, on the topic of brands in 2017. She suggested customers expect personalisation and are happy to provide their personal data if it is going to be used in the right way.
However, with so much data, the challenge is getting the right data and using it in a way that is contextual and delivers the right experience ‘in the moment’.
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