Win Biz Traveler Loyalty by Satisfying Their Top Technology Demands

By Robert Webb, Chief Information Officer, Hilton Worldwide | May 25, 2010

The rise of fast, convenient technology has changed the way businesses function. And subsequently, it has changed how the travel industry operates to accommodate business travelers.

Along with increased high speed technology comes increased frustration when business travelers don't immediately get what they want. No longer are the days when travelers park themselves in the hotel business center to work on desktop computers with dial-up Internet -- they now demand fast technology that allows them to work in the comfort of their own rooms, in the lobbies via wireless Internet access or on-the-go on their smartphones.

At just the click of a button, business travelers can get virtually anything they want. In order to stay competitive, hoteliers need to keep up with certain technology trends. There are three offerings in particular that many business travelers cannot live without: in-room high-speed internet, fast printing and mobile applications.

1. In-room high-speed Internet
When making hotel reservations, in-room high speed Internet access (HSIA) is a critical factor in business travelers' final booking decisions. There are few things more frustrating to business travelers than slow Internet connections because, without high-speed Internet, they can't get their work done in a timely fashion.

In early 2007, the Hilton HHonors guest-loyalty program began offering gold and diamond members free Internet access as one of its hotel perks. Since then, we have found that free Internet is one of the most favored on-property benefits -- coming in only behind frequent upgrades and complimentary breakfast. In addition, our Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels and Homewood Suites brands offer free Internet access as a brand standard at more than 2,500 hotels worldwide.

2. Fast printing
While traveling for business, guests often need to print e-mails, spreadsheets and other important documents quickly. They rarely have time to wait for a computer to open up in the business center to use a printer, so the more streamlined and convenient the printing system, the better.

To meet the printing demands of on-the-go business travelers, Hilton Worldwide and HP recently launched ePrint, which allows guests to print wirelessly from their BlackBerry smartphones to any printer in the PrinterOn network of public printers, called PrintSpots. Thirty percent of the PrintSpots are located at hotels within Hilton Worldwide's portfolio.

Using HP ePrint, guests can quickly print out their spreadsheets, flight itineraries and other documents from their BlackBerry smartphones, and by the time they get downstairs, their copies will be ready for them to pick up. More than 1,300 hotels in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands have PrintSpots on the PrinterOn network including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels and Homewood Suites by Hilton.

3. Mobile apps
Smartphones have revolutionized travel. Using mobile applications, travelers can do everything from booking their travel to hiring a chauffeur to finding where the nearest ATM is located. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the smartphone is "a nearly perfect traveling companion, as it is full of useful travel information, it never complains and it fits right in your pocket."

Continuing to stay on top of the growing consumer demand, Hilton Worldwide recently unveiled a new series of comprehensive iPhone and iPod Touch applications across its Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton hotel brands. Though the main functionality is similar for all brands, the applications are built to allow for some differences that highlight the unique characteristics of each brand.

The Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites brand applications feature the first-ever "Request Upon Arrival" service that enables a business traveler to place a room service order on a mobile phone and arrive at the hotel with dinner waiting in the guestroom. Other special features of the mobile applications include a complete hotel search tool, room booking capabilities and mobile check-in. Hilton HHonors members are also equipped to check their points balance and redeem points for stays.

Bottom line, innovative technology exists today that can better meet the needs of business travelers and improve their overall hotel experience. Hoteliers, like Hilton Worldwide, have multiple opportunities to creatively use this technology to differentiate their brands in the marketplace and give business travelers what they want -- faster, more convenient service.

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