How Hilton recognises loyal guests technologically
Hilton Hotels has completed the deployment of its proprietary technology platform, 'OnQ', across its 2,200+ Hilton Family Hotels, and says it will continue to use the technology to enhance efficiency and guest recognition, with the aim of increased customer satisfaction.
The hotel brands now covered by the technology implementation include Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Homewood Suites by Hilton. Among the new services to be rolled out are:
- Remote web-based check-ins 24 hours before arrival, to enable guests with an online account to choose their room type and options based on preferences and history, and to print their confirmation document;
- Electronic folio (receipt) access, to enable business travellers to review and print their hotel receipts online, following stays at any Hilton family hotels.
- The expansion of automated check-in kiosks to 100 kiosks within 45 Hilton Family hotels by the end of 2004, with the main emphasis on metro and airport locations. The kiosks provide self-service check-in, room selection, check-out and a variety of other automated services;
- High-speed internet access available to guests at more than 1,995 of the group's hotels.
"We are passionate about taking care of our guests, providing them with more choices and flexibility through effective use of technology. Using a single technology platform across all brands and sharing real-time information across every guest touch point enables us to take care of guests at every point of contact while ensuring their privacy," said Tom Keltner, president of Hilton's brand performance and franchise development group. "Through better inventory management and enhanced recognition of returning guests at all points of interaction, we've achieved increasing guest recognition and loyalty scores within the past year across all brands."
Web check-in Available within the fourth quarter 2004 at a selection of the company's hotels, web-based check-in will allow Gold and Diamond Hilton HHonors loyalty programme members with password-protected online accounts to check into their hotel rooms before arrival, regardless of how they made their reservation.
To use the facilities, guests access their reservation via one of the brand web sites, choose a room with features that meet their needs, and print their confirmation document. Because guest information is stored within the online personal account, the hotel does not need to collect the same information at check-in.
After checking in online, the hotel is notified electronically of the pending arrival. The hotel front desk then completes all pre-arrival and check-in processes so that the guest's key card and registration pack are ready and waiting upon arrival, at which point the guest exchanges the check-in receipt for the prepared room key and welcome pack.
"OnQ takes customer loyalty to a new level because it enables us to continue to launch new technologies that cater specifically to our guests' needs," said Tim Harvey, CIO for Hilton Hotels Corporation.
Electronic folios Those who create an online account with Hilton are also able to access, view and print hotel folios (the itemised descriptions of hotel charges) for stays at their latest five hotels. Initially, guests can access three months of folio history, although Hilton says this will be expanded to a longer period of time in early 2005.
Check-in kiosks Using OnQ, the company has developed, tested and deployed pilot kiosks and is now increasing the number of installations in additional cities. Thirty kiosks now operate within seven hotels in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. The company is planning to install new kiosks in 45 hotels (a total of 100 kiosks) across all its brands by the end of 2004, with these deployments focussed mainly on company-owned and managed metropolitan-area and airport hotels.
The kiosks were designed to provide guests with choices, convenience and control over their stay. Currently used by an average of 10%-12% of guests within those hotels that offer the service, some hotels have seen as many as 35% of eligible guests using the kiosks, which far exceeded the company's expectations. Guest services staff assigned to the kiosk area are also available to assist guests who have questions.
Current applications for the kiosks include room check-in (the ability to select the room, get room keys, and print registration information), check-out (receipt printing), personalised messaging to guests, and coupons for hotel services in selected locations. Forthcoming enhancements include the ability to: offer visual room selection, hotel services (such as bundled high-speed internet access and phone services), up-sell to executive floors, and review resort package options.
Broadband internet Hilton is also aggressively pursuing the installation of high-speed internet access within all hotels across all brands, and is targeting the end of 2004 to install the service in all of its hotels. The company has already installed the service in approximately 90% of its hotels, including wireless access in most public spaces.
Hilton benefits, too The OnQ technology is aimed at improving guest recognition at check-in time, and provides employees with the ability to provide better customer service based on real-time access to guest preferences, information about loyalty programme membership status, and past and future guest stays across all brands.
Once a guest creates an account, front desk team members can recognise them at check-in and provide a more personalised, enhanced service, including:
- Welcoming the guest back when they typically stay at another Hilton hotel and is staying for the first time at one of the sister brands;
- Automatically delivering the guest's top four preferences including: smoking or non-smoking room; type of bed; floor level; and room location relative to the elevator, among others;
- Accessing real-time information about an HHonors member's reward status;
- Making requested adjustments to the guest's personal profile;
- Changing future reservations from the hotel in which a guest currently is staying.