Hilton rolls out a room reservation app across its brands

Guests at Hilton Worldwide will soon be able to use their smartphones to select specific rooms, make special requests, check in and out, and even unlock their room doors, the McLean-based hotel chain announced Monday.

By the end of this summer, members of the company’s rewards program, Hilton HHonors, will be able to pick out their rooms using digital floor plans at a number of the company’s brands, ranging from Homewood Suites to Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

Eventually, guests will be able unlock their doors using smartphones, allowing them to skip the check-in counter entirely. The service is expected to launch in the United States next year.

Hilton, which went public in December following six years of private-equity ownership, has invested $550 million in IT infrastructure over the past seven years, according to a company spokeswoman. Two years ago, the company came out with Conrad Concierge, an app that allows guests to make dinner reservations, order room service and chat with a concierge using their tablets or smartphones. The upcoming HHonors app, which will be available for Apple and Android devices, takes the initiative a step further, executives say.

“Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms,” Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Among business travelers, roughly 84 percent said they wanted the ability to choose their own room, according to a recent survey conducted for Hilton. The hotel giant also surveyed guests and analyzed feedback from more than 40 million HHonors members.

“It’s clear that guests want greater choice and control,” Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of digital at Hilton, said in a statement.

A number of hotel chains, including Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, have also debuted apps with similar capabilities. Rockville-based Choice Hotels International announced Monday that it would begin accepting hotel reservations from Ford vehicles. Drivers can use the vehicles’ hands-free system to search for available rooms via a voice-controlled reservation system.

“In today’s rapidly evolving market, it is important to stay ahead of the latest ways guests search and make reservations,” Robert McDowell, senior vice president of global distribution and marketing at Choice Hotels, said in a statement.

Capital Business is The Post’s publication focusing on the region’s business community. For a daily rundown of local business news, sign up for the CapBiz A.M. e-mail newsletter at bit.ly/capbz.

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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