Hilton Offers a Glimpse into the Future with Innovation Gallery
With this issue of HX: The Newsletter having a theme of Innovators, it was a good time to visit with Jonathan Wilson, vice president of customer experience and innovation at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, to see what is happening at the company's Innovation Gallery. Hilton opened this 4,300-square-foot incubator and experiential showcase for cutting-edge product developments in November 2017. It is located next to the brand's global headquarters in McLean, Va. The gallery is open to invited guests, which include Hilton employees, hotel owners, and technology partners.
One of the concepts being at the gallery for the past six months and now featured in six rooms in the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner Hotel is called Meural, which is a customizable digital art display. Through the Hilton Honors app, guests can list their art or photo preferences as part of their profile. The company then collects and stores this data provided by the traveler.
"For instance, you can say, 'I prefer Renaissance art or I prefer to see a picture of my girls in my room when I travel," Wilson said. "An Honors member sets these preferences, and when they check in they will have a large piece of digital art in their room on an LED screen personalized to what they want."
Having this piece of personalized artwork in their hotel rooms "can help guests feel comfortable, natural and at home when they travel," Wilson added. "Technology is there to make the stay easier and more personalized for the guest."
Meural is one of the early features being tested in Hilton's Connected Room, a concept which is also starting to be rolled out this year through Hilton properties. Through the Hilton Honors app, guests can use their mobile devices as the in-room remote to control their TV programming, lighting, and temperature in this high-tech guest room.
"We will see more voice activated applications at Hilton and throughout the industry," Wilson predicted. "You will be doing more and more through an app, before your journey even starts."
Another concept currently being tested at the Innovation Gallery is the use of virtual reality(VR) to help develop and design new hotel brands, Wilson said. When ownership groups tour the gallery, they can use the VR headset to add certain or change features to a guest room they are viewing. Others in the room with them can view on a 15-foot-by-30-foot screen what they are seeing at the same time on their headset.
"Virtual reality is a much better way of building the guest room," Wilson said. "This allows us to change things out in the testing of new room concepts, and allows for easier testing of new room features and brands."
Designing a typical prototype room, for example, could take a couple of months. But with VR, you can swipe room features in and out much more quickly - to help create a new room concept in a fraction of the amount of time.