During the past few years the hotel industry has witnessed a digital revolution which has transformed the guest experience exponentially. Here at Hilton Hotels, technology is fundamental to the way we design new hotels and revamp our older hotels, says Chris Webb, Senior Director of Design, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Hilton.
Our main challenge is to embrace technology whilst ensuring technology is integrated seamlessly into our hotel designs. The secret to success is offering technologies that are intuitive, discreet, and most importantly, simple for our guests to use.
It is increasingly important we offer guests choice as to how they would like to experience the hotel environment. We’re witnessing a trend towards guests wanting the option to use their personal devices, such as smart phones and tablets, to control their hotel rooms and give them greater choice. Guests desire to use technology that they are familiar with to command in room controls and entertainment systems. Whilst there is clearly a need for hotel design to encompass simple, intuitive in room controls, we expect user control from one’s own devices to continue to grow in the future.
An example of how we’re integrating this into our hotels is at Hilton Bankside, where we are rolling out a trial of Handy smartphones in every room. These devices will enable our guests to have a UK phone number during their stay and access to the internet around London. They also give us an access point to update our guests on their room status, for example, guests will be able to receive a message alerting them that “your room has been turned down” or “as requested, we’ve placed extra down pillows in your room”.
Whilst it is important for the hotel industry to embrace technology, it should never replace excellent face-to-face service. Our two most important points of contact our guests experience is when they check in and out of a Hilton Hotel. Although the use of technology is a huge opportunity for hotel design and the guest experience, it is also important to be cautious. Technology should never completely replace human interaction, especially the excitement and anticipation of arriving and checking in at a new hotel. Technology enhances our hotel design and the overall guest experience, but does not replace conversation, personal interaction and excellent service.