You select your seat when you make a flight reservation, so wouldn't it make sense that hotels would let you choose your room? Hilton think so. The company has recently launched an update to its HHonors app that allows guests to pick specific rooms from a floor plan using their mobile device, making them the first hospitality company to do so. Hilton aims to offer this service at 4,000 hotels (covering 650,000 rooms) by the end of the year.
Here's how it works: At 6 a.m. the day before your stay, Hilton HHonors members can sign into their account via your mobile device, tablet, or computer to check-in and choose your preferred room through floor plan maps or lists populated from the hotel's available inventory. Photos of rooms are also available to help you choose. When you arrive at the hotel, all you have to do is quickly pick up your room key. Your payment information and all other necessary details have already been verified. You will also be able to check out (bills are sent directly via email), and make special requests via the app. Next year, you will also be able to unlock your hotel room with with your smartphone, which will completely do away with the whole experience of waiting in the lobby. If you are not already an HHonors member, it is free to sign up and start earning points that can be redeemed for free hotel stays across the Hilton portfolio, which includes Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, Doubletree, Hampton, and Homewood Suites.
The new technology means no more hanging around at the front desk waiting for staff to find a room for you. (In a survey, Hilton found that almost a third of respondents cited waiting in the lobby for the room to be ready as one of the most frustrating aspects of the hotel experience.) It also minimizes the chance of finding yourself booked into an unsuitable room. But some questions remain: what if you the room you've booked is not ready by the time you reach the hotel? Or if the room you booked the day before becomes unavailable because the guests have decided to extend their stay?
8/25/14: An update and more details from Geraldine Calpin, SVP and Global Head of Digital at Hilton Worldwide
What would happen if the room you had reserved was not ready when you arrived?
When using digital check-in and room selection, guests select the window of time they expect to arrive at the hotel, which informs the list of available rooms guests can choose from. Upon arriving at the hotel, guests using this feature can simply pick up their room key at the front desk.
However, if the selected room unexpectedly becomes unavailable, the front desk staff will offer the guest the room in preference to the original. For example, if a guest reserved a corner room, they would try to give that guest a corner room on a different floor – as those rooms would have a similar layout and location.
How detailed are the floor plans, do they show the view?
The floor plans currently feature an aerial map of each individual floor and indicate available rooms at the time of check-in. Guests can access additional details about the room type and room-type photos, but not images of the exact room itself. The floor plans will indicate where certain hotel features are – for example, it will show the pool, terrace or meetings rooms when looking at the floor where each are located.
Which of the four brands will have the mobile room key technology next year?
We will begin rolling out technology that will allow guests to use their smartphone as a room key in 2015 and all U.S. hotels across four of brands will have this capability by the end of that year. We cannot divulge specifics yet, but we’ll be sure to share details when available.