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Hilton checks in millennial-friendly hotel brand with mobile-centric features

Hilton Worldwide is ramping up to target millennial travelers with the introduction of its midscale Tru by Hilton brand, which possesses a digital-first mentality with features such as mobile check-in, room selection, keyless room entry and a reimagined front desk.

Following a fruitful year in mobile, Hilton is expanding on its current offerings and bringing an even more laser-focused mindset to its newest brand, which is designed to appeal to a wide range of travelers bound together by youthful energy and a millennial outlook. Tru by Hilton guests will be able to leverage their smartphones as the ultimate travel companions, thanks to a slew of digital features such as complimentary Wi-Fi and Digital Key entry.

?Millennials, seemingly more than any other demographic, seek instant gratification,? said Ryan Williams, vice president of travel at Millward Brown Digital, Seattle. ?Some hospitality brands are embracing this challenge with mobile features like digital key entry, mobile check-in, in-app room selection, mobile concierge, video streaming, etc. 

?And, as these features catch on, other brands will have to implement like offerings to remain in the millennial consideration set.?

Mobile-first initiatives
The Tru by Hilton brand, which is set to open its first property by the end of this year, will incorporate complimentary Wi-Fi bandwidth into all of its hotels, enabling travelers to download and stream content on their personal devices.

This decision speaks to Hilton?s awareness that streaming services are a must-have for many millennial consumers, especially those who may want to relax with Netflix or Hulu after a day of sight-seeing.

Additionally, guests will be able to use mobile check-in. Many consumers have responded well to this option, which has been peppered throughout many top brands? infrastructures. Guests may skip long queues after a long day of traveling, and bypass the front desk to reach their assigned hotel room in a matter of minutes.

Digital room selection is another popular tactic also supported by Hilton competitor Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Consumers can use their mobile devices to input room requirements or special needs, such as ground-floor accommodation or in-room fireplaces, instead of calling a hotel representative or completing the task online.

Digital Key entry is also an attractive feature for some guests, especially those who are prone to misplacing physical room keys.

In August of 2015, Hilton Worldwide rewarded its HHonors members by enabling them to be the first to receive access to its Digital Key feature, which allows guests to unlock their hotel rooms via their mobile device (see story).

Tru by Hilton customers will also be asked to download the HHonors mobile app to take advantage of these tools.

?As a standalone offering, I doubt Digital Key entry will be much of a deciding factor,? Mr. Williams said. ?However, when paired with other mobile-centric options, it could be considered a must-have.?

Revamped front desk
Tru by Hilton hotels will employ a slew of innovative features ? most notably, a Command Center that functions as a reimagined front desk. The Center will showcase a social media wall displaying real-time content to promote engagement among guests.

Several hospitality experts believe that front desks are likely to experience a significant revamping in the near future as brands evolve to become more digitally savvy.

Although mobile has set up shop in thousands of hotels with the popularity of keyless room entry and personal concierge applications this year, it could soon also take over front desks with self-service check-in options for guests, according to new research from Samsung Insights (see story).

However, having a strong social media aspect will be extremely beneficial for Tru by Hilton properties. The chain would be well-poised to develop a permanent hashtag and encourage guests to upload their personal anecdotes and photos to social media during their stays.

?Assuming Tru by Hilton succeeds in reaching its target audience, its guests will arrive with singular expectations around communication, both with the hotel and other guests,? Mr. Williams said. ?Tru has a unique opportunity to enhance the guest experience by fostering engagement to facilitate the sharing of photos, experiences, recommendations, etc.?