Hilton Worldwide continues vast rollout of digital access technology. Interview: Vice President of Digital Product & Innovation Joshua Sloser…

Hotel companies are starting to conclude that guest room key cards are perhaps no longer the key to customer satisfaction. The largest hotel companies in the world are thus now experimenting with technology that allows guests to use their smartphones to open the doors to their rooms bypassing the front desk upon arrival. Hilton Worldwide first launched mobile room check-in in 2015. At that time, Vice President of Digital Product & Innovation Joshua Sloser was impressed by its widespread adoption, and today, thanks to its initial success, the Digital Key system is rolling out over hundreds of properties. We asked Mr Sloser to tell us more about the project.

Digital Key is one of the many great features guests and on the Hilton Honors app. We have transformed the Hilton Honors app from being just a great booking tool into being a one-stop- shop where guests can go for anything they need throughout their experience with Hilton. We started with digital check-in with room selection, which gave guests the ability to check-in to the hotel digitally and select their exact room after looking at a map of the oor plan and hotel’s outside surroundings. Digital Key was the next step in creating the ultimate digital check-in experience. With the Hilton Honors app, guests can bypass the front desk and use their smartphone as their room key. Hilton Honors members have used Digital Key to open more than 3 million doors across nearly 800 properties in the US, Canada and Singapore. In the coming months, we are enhancing Digital Key even more. We’re making it easier for families on vacation or friends on a group trip to request multiple Digital Keys per room which can be accesses on more than one device.


Who was involved in working on the digital key project and how did the process work for nding the right solutions?
Digital Key is an all hands-on deck project. We created cross-functional teams between digital, design, hotel operations and IT. Our task? Develop an easy-to-use, visually pleasing feature and work with property owners around the world to seamlessly integrate it with our property management system. We started beta testing Digital Key at a handful of properties in August, 2015 – after rigorous internal testing. After great responses during the testing phase, we started rolling it out across the US and then to Canada and Singapore in 2016. We are excited to continue to expand this in more countries around the world throughout 2017.


How important is this as a unique selling point for Hilton? Why?
Mobile technology is a huge part of many of our guests’ lives. We are seeing more than half of all traffic come in via a mobile device. That informs how we engage with our customers. Technology, especially mobile technology, gives us the ability to reach our guests at the right time, in the right way and when they need us most.

Digital Key complements our guests’ lifestyles by giving them the convenience, access and decision making power they want. Almost one fifth of our hotels have Digital Key – and our guests have told us how much they love the feature. We’ve answered the call to provide a valued solution to streamline the check-in process.

What has feedback been like so far?
Our guests have widely praised Digital Key. We’ve seen feedback from guest surveys and feedback such as: “Digital Key is fabulous!”, “This is an extremely convenient bene t for being a Hilton Honors member”, or “For a frequent traveller like myself, the ability to select my room and bypass the front desk is a competitive advantage. No other hotel group offers this type of service.”

Digital check-in with room selection is used over 1 million times per month. That’s once every two-and-a-half seconds. Also, more than 70% of those who use digital check-in also use Digital Key. Overall, the Hilton Honors app is one of the highest rates travel apps in the Apple App store. We’ve giving guests complete autonomy on-property by putting the remote control to their stay experience in the palm of their hand.