Hilton launches ‘connected’ guest room technology

Hilton Worldwide has introduced its Connected Room, a digitally enhanced hotel room that allows guests to control their environment from their Hilton Honors app and owners to track property functions and information from a mobile device.

The technology intends to provide a platform of software solutions including, on the guest side, digital key technology, which the company has installed in about two-thirds of its more than 5,100 properties (the rest will be added next year), and the ability to control room temperature and lighting, among other things – contributing to lower energy usage by, for instance, syncing lighting and air cooling or heating with their schedule. Other functionality includes the ability to work the TV and stream content without needing to use a remote control.

On the owner side, a “mission control” dashboard tracks property information like energy consumption, guest room maintenance needs and housekeeping functions. Digital networks within the hotel gather information and track performance on connected devices.

The room is currently in beta testing. It’s been installed in guest rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Memphis, Tennessee, near a Hilton development team that works in the area. Seven more are in the process of deploying the technology, and the goal is to launch in 2018, said Joshua Sloser, senior vice president of digital product.

“We will always be in the business of people serving people, but to get the people doing the right things, to take the things that can be, with the use of technology, automated, that can be done better and easier and in a way that resonates with customers, so that we can repurpose people to create better experiences,” said Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s CEO.

In the longer term, Connected Room will support other connected devices, engagements and experiences in the guest room, including using voice commands to control the room and access content, the ability to upload artwork and photos to display in the room, and customize preferences via the Hilton Honors app.

The Connected Room is part of Hilton’s Innovation Gallery at its McLean, Virginia, headquarters, an incubator and showcase for other technology being tested – such as a device that provides automatic real-time translation among multiple languages, another that has 20 settings to help mask diverse noises such as construction or elevators, another that automatically mixes alcoholic drinks – or FF&E materials that are renewable, sustainable or flame-retardant.

Airbnb and and the OTAs have grabbed advantages because of the hotel industry’s neglect, Nassetta told reporters at an introductory tour of the Connected Room and gallery space. “What we have to do is remember the business we’re in. We’re in the business of hospitality. We’re in the business of experiences. We’re in the business of fulfillment.”

Hilton Innovation Gallery