The pandemic brought about changes in almost every industry, including tourism, and hotels were faced with many unique situations in which they had to ensure the safety, health and well-being of guests. This has led to many successes, some of which Hilton believes will be lasting, even permanent.
For more than a century, Hilton has been responsible for many of the things that define the hotel industry today, said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton. Last year’s pandemic kicked our innovation engine into gear – for us, it was a decade of change in just 12 months. And while the experience at our hotels will change as people begin to travel more freely, our team members around the world look forward to welcoming our guests and sharing the light and warmth of our hospitality once again.
A recent campaign by Hilton For New Memories found that 94% of Americans surveyed plan to pack their belongings again once travel restrictions are lifted. Ninety-one percent of travelers say their hotel experience is a memorable part of their trip, and Hilton wants to make sure that tradition continues.
The hotel brand was quick to adapt and innovate when the pandemic hit, and experts predict seven ways the changes in the hotel industry will continue long after the pandemic is over.
Scalable hotel design
First, Hilton believes that hotel design is constantly evolving. The company plans to continue developing lobby spaces that can meet the transformational needs of clients. These spaces are designed so that people have the choice to communicate or not.
First impressions are very important, and our lobbies are not only the heart of our hotels, but also the first place where our guests are welcomed and assured that they have made the right choice for their stay, said Larry Traxler, senior vice president of global design. Everyone who travels these days is more conscious of their personal space and the cleanliness of their surroundings, and they need additional security guarantees during their stay with us. How can we meet these expectations while ensuring that the experience we offer remains welcoming? It’s a challenge.
Spaces that can be adapted to the individual needs of each person or group will be a key design element. For example, lobby bars can activate architectural screens with biophilia and art in conjunction with smaller movable dividers and creative seating design.
On a more technical level, Hilton is working on air purification systems and clean surface solutions.
The contactless customer experience
Hilton guests are quickly moving to contactless, which allows them to check-in through the Hilton Honors app, use digital keys and check-out automatically.
We will always serve people, but the pandemic has proven that many guests appreciate the ability to check in, select a room via phone and go directly to their room – where their phone is now their key, said Mike Gathright, senior vice president of customer experience. Fortunately, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as many of our hotels are equipped for contactless travel via the Hilton Honors app. We are now working to make the experience even better.
Guests can also take advantage of the high-tech touch-free rooms with technology that reduces contact with light switches, thermostats and TV remotes.
Emphasis on cleanliness
Hilton points out that backstage used to be cleaned. Cleanliness is something that customers want to see with their own eyes.
Hilton CleanStay. (Photo via Hilton Media)
I think hospitality is all about welcoming guests and anticipating their needs, with cleanliness being one of the most important factors, said Phil Cordell, senior vice president of brand development. That’s why Hilton CleanStay is a program that will evolve over time as people travel more.
Room compacting and individual cleaning services are likely standards that will remain unchanged, according to Hilton, as will the hotel company’s CleanStay program.
Hilton is committed to improving its food and beverage offerings, both within its brands and outside its restaurants. Large events, meetings and conferences also provide opportunities for innovation.
The pandemic has forced us to rethink and define how we can provide our customers with the service and experiences they seek – resulting in premium cocktails, to-go cocktails, expanded to-go markets, and custom trays for meetings and events. With the return to normal, these new offerings won’t disappear entirely, says Adam Crocini, vice president and head of global food and beverage brands. They will continue to improve our overall food and beverage program, but on a much larger and more personal scale.
Some parts of the experiment, such as. B. Virtual wine tastings are likely to disappear. But Hilton is offering new items, such as cocktail bags and meal prep kits, that will likely continue after the pandemic.
Customers find comfort in trusted brands
Surveys show that people like to travel and find it increasingly safe, but when they do, they look for people they know.
After a year without travel, people are eager to get moving, but they’re not used to it, says Matt Schuyler, brand manager. Many people are looking for a comfortable trip, with a return to familiar places and brands. Checking into a familiar and friendly hotel for a night on the road or revisiting a favourite place, backed by the confidence of a trusted brand to help people give back to their travel experience.
Flexibility for meetings and events
When it comes to Hilton EventReady, we go for the long haul, said Kelly Knowlen, executive director of sales engagement and special events. Event organizers are looking for hybrid solutions, and our new range of offerings is gaining ground. Our plan is to continue to develop EventReady Playbook to meet the growing needs of our customers.
Hilton noted that event organizers are already looking for ways to create hybrid spaces, and that his EventReady hybrid solutions provide organizers with the tools they need.
Exclusive benefits and ongoing support for loyalty programme members
During the pandemic, we wanted to take care of Hilton Honors members, our best guests, even if they couldn’t travel. Loyalty is a two-way street, and we wanted our Hilton Honors members to know that we are as loyal to them as they are to us, said Jennifer Chick, vice president and global head of guest engagement for Hilton Honors.
Hilton is honoring its members during the pandemic, including through automatic renewal of points and status, and through changes to the 2021 program to give Hilton Honors members more flexibility.
Hilton Honors has also halved the requirements for qualifying status, lowered the thresholds for the nightly bonus and expanded the reward certificate for free weekend nights for Hilton Honors American Express members.
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