Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Virginia Suliman, Vice President of Digital Design and Development, Hilton Worldwide. Read how Hilton is experimenting with Google APIs to take the guess work out of the hotel booking and room selection process. Hilton is just one of many customers sharing their story as part of our cross-country road trip, Code the Road.
No one likes surprises when they reserve hotel rooms, so it’s crucial for Hilton that people see exactly what they’ll be getting before they arrive. Currently, Hilton’s HHonors guests can use the HHonors website and app as a one-stop tool to control their on-property experience – from finding the best hotels in the right neighborhoods and booking the most suitable one, to soon, using the app as a room key.
With a spirit of constant innovation, we’re always looking for new ways to enhance the guest experience. One way we’re doing so is by experimenting with the Google Maps APIs through proof of concept iPhone app functionality we built to enhance the room selection process during digital check-in. The concept tests a the Street View panoramas, part of the Google Maps SDK for iOS, letting users see on the app the exact view they’ll experience when they get to their hotel room. For example, they could virtually look out their window on the app and select the room that overlooks a park or a quiet street corner.
People care not just about the hotel they stay in, but also about the neighborhood, including what kinds of food, entertainment and amenities are nearby. So in our concept, we also tested a controlled list of businesses and points of interest from the Google Maps Places API for IOS to highlight nearby destinations via the HHonors app, like Lincoln Center in New York City, a great fish restaurant in Boston, or the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.
The full potential of Google APIs sets in when you combine them. If successful, the Maps and Street View panorama concepts could one day fully integrate into our HHonors app or global web portal, which already uses Google Maps Business View to offer panoramic virtual tours of our properties to guests.
We believe that happy travelers are repeat customers who become loyalists. If you feel connected to the experience you’ve had with us, you’re more likely to return and to tell others about it. Through technology, we’re hoping to make it easier for people to find the perfect room, have an unforgettable stay and come back for another adventure.
We were delighted to participate in the Code the Road trip. We hosted the Code the Road bus at our Hilton Chicago property on June 10 and are hosting it at Hilton Headquarters in McLean, Virginia on June 22. You can also see the Hilton HHonors app window-view proof of concept demo on the bus.