Hilton’s Success in Online/Offline Customer Experience
The hotel market is one that we don’t get to discuss often, let alone having the chance to sit down and speak with two executives from Hilton Hotels, Jennifer Chick, VP of Global Marketing and Digital and Naveen Manga, VP Customer Journey Technology and Delivery at BloomReach Connect 2018 back in October in the heart of San Francisco.
Watch the remainder of our exclusive customer interview’s below that were captured directly from the event floor where we discuss the implications in the online/offline experience, the biggest trends Hilton is seeing in the hotel market and their digital customer journey.
Jennifer Chick, VP of Global Marketing and Digital
With over 20 years of experience, Jennifer held a session alongside Naveen on how Hilton co-strategizes marketing and IT to create the ultimate experience. We often discuss the notion of marketing teams here at CMSC Media and how they should be thinking about embracing a tech savviness and IT teams adopting a bit more of a marketing state of mind so we asked Jennifer how Hilton has found success on combining those departments together: “it comes down to the shared goals and the endeavor to want to chase the customer together so I think it’s not about what department we’re in but it’s about how do we really create the connection and residents of the customer. What are all the places where the customer experiences our brand and how do we bring those things together and then how do we use technology either to enable it or to reach the customer in different ways.”
Hilton has also found major success in its online/offline customer experience and as Jennifer explains it’s all about the customer experience at no matter what point of the journey their in: “thinking about all these micro moments you have with your customers where they’re experiencing your brand and how you pull that together so I think for us journey focus is really important and toggling between online and offline and trying to make our relationship with the customer very seamless so that it feels like the same brand every time they experience us no matter whether it’s on a TV add or a digital banner or even on one of properties” says Jennifer.
Lastly, being such a huge global brand, we were curious to hear from Jennifer what some of the biggest customer experience trends are in the hotel market: “we are customer centric in our hearts and we’re a hospitality company so at the end of the day our business is people and our team members that are on the front lines in our hotels are incredibly driven by the customer, they’re incredibly driven by creating that connectivity and so for them it’s actually kind of an interesting pivot using technology as a way to enable the customer experience.”
Jennifer also used a great example of how their taking that experience and simplifying it: “like our digital key for example where you can open your hotel room with your phone that could bypass the front desk experience.” So for hotels, this is something they need to be thinking of and evolving to “but still delivering hospitality and those personal touches that absolutely make us truly who we are as a hospitality brand” adds Jennifer.
Naveen Manga, VP of Customer Journey Technology & Delivery
Naveen’s background comes with over 18 years of experience and with a heavy focus on technology, so in our interview, we wanted to hear what a Hilton customer journey looks like: “Our customers dream, they shop, they book, they stay at our properties and then they advocate. So my team pretty much works on inspiring and empowering every part of that customer journey so whether is the website or mobile app or connector room or call center application or property management, we’re going through a full stack of transformation off all those modern systems that we have in our enterprise in order to be fast and nimble” says Naveen. Also, accelerating their speed to market for innovation is also important Naveen added.
Hilton’s website, built on a Java stack, brings the company 20% of their revenue. They also have two native apps, Android and iOS, which is currently undergoing a transformation and is about 50% complete, mentioned Naveen. “We’re taking this similar mindset and debunking this notion of a big monolith system and breaking it down into React on the front end, being able to use graphically well technology on the middle layer that eventually talks to micro services on the backend which are restful services.”
Today, travelers rely less on their direct relationships with brands and instead are relying more on the mobile devices in their pockets or the desktops in their home offices. We all know that when you are looking to book a hotel, you use those devices to quickly search a free room and book online. Those tech-savvy travelers also research their trips ahead of time and often consult friends and online reviews. So it comes as no surprise that less than half of hotel guests — either business or leisure travelers — consider themselves loyal to a particular hotel brand who can offer those consitent and seamless customer experiences to them.
Because we all have access to a mobile device, why not make that experience easier than having to wait in line for extended amounts of time before we are able to check into our hotel? As Naveen says: “Our customers are used to having a set of automation technology in their homes and it’s almost like table stakes for them to expect similar technologies of yesterday so we’ve already launched digital key which is a capability for a problem we’re trying to solve to be able to remove the friction in the customer journey where you have to stand in line to check in or check out and instead go straight to your room.”
I think the new technologies such as digital keys will be a major success for Hilton, because I don’t know about you but I’d rather be enjoying my room while I’m away on vacation then be standing in line waiting to check in.
Being able to fully optimize that experience not only lets the guest be in total control of their stay but the hotel is able to keep in touch with them throughout the entire journey and as Neveen describes above “Once you’re in the room, we want to continue using a mobile device as a command center and give the choice of control to the guests to be able to operate and control every aspect of the room, thermostat, blinds, light switch, you name it. So being able to fully automate that experience in the connected room is what we’re going for.”