When a hotel opens in the midst of a pandemic, you better believe that management is doing its best to give the public what it wants to help ensure a successful opening. Knowing that consumers have reported that they want contactless payments, digital room keys and digital messaging services (according to this Oracle Hospitality Recovery Survey), Philadelphia's newest hotel: Canopy by Hilton, has opted in to next generation technologies that will create a minimal contact stay.
Guests can control TV, lights and temperature via their personal smartphone and the Hilton Honors app. This provides the minimal touch experience that consumers seek in a post-COVID era of hotel stay, from day one. The app also allows guests to bypass the front desk with mobile check in and provides a digital room key.
To learn more about what this hotel is doing to enable a high tech, low touch experience for guests, HT interviewed Ryan Todd, lead sales enthusiast, Canopy Philadelphia Center City.
Tell us a little about your hotel opening in early August.
We are looking forward to opening the doors to The Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City on August 3rd! We’ve witnessed a remarkable transformation, as the entire hotel was rebuilt within Philadelphia’s beautiful and historic Stephen Girard building. All the HVAC, plumbing and electric is brand new – and the interior has been completely redesigned and transformed from a 19th century office building to a 21st century hotel with the state-of-the-art hospitality technology. As Hilton’s first luxury and lifestyle hotel in Pennsylvania, Canopy Philadelphia is located in the heart of Center City in the East Market development, which provides our guests the opportunity to walk or use our complimentary bikes to see all of Philadelphia’s top attractions. We can’t wait to show off all we have to offer.
How does the Hilton Honors mobile app lend itself to a contactless experience for guests at Canopy Philadelphia?
Hilton has always been at the forefront of integrating technology into the guest experience and has conveniently aggregated all of this technology into one place that our guests can hold in the palm of their hands: the Hilton Honors Mobile App. With this powerful tool, Hilton guests can self-assign themselves to specific guest rooms in our hotel, digitally check themselves in, and use their own cell phone to access a Digital Key to unlock their guestroom door – and every other door that traditional hotel keys would open. Once they’re in the room, they can continue to use the Connected Room feature on the Hilton Honors Mobile App to control nearly their entire experience, including the temperature on the thermostat. They can even control the guest room TV and our wireless speakers. Guests can access our in-room programing, or stream from their personal Netflix or iHeartRadio subscriptions.
How will your hotel specifically enable a contactless experience?
The Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City was designed with high-tech conveniences in mind. We will be opening our hotel with all of our technology platforms up-and-running – and we will motivate all of our guests to take advantage of these technologies to elevate their own experience at our hotel. We find comfort that these technologies – that lend themselves so perfectly to a contactless experience – are programs that Hilton had developed and perfected long before the current environment and are not a rushed solution for guests as a reaction to COVID-19.
In addition to the Digital Key and Connected Room programs, our hotel will also utilize wireless technologies in many other places too. For example, we feature wireless Bluetooth speakers in our guest rooms for our guests to enjoy without needing to touch or plug into anything. Our meeting rooms feature wireless technologies that connect to the LCD displays, sound system and projectors. Our Audio-Visual partners also have the ability to wirelessly stream content taking place in our meeting rooms to particular guest rooms so that attendees may extend their meetings beyond the traditional event space. Interestingly, this technology is extending to wedding ceremonies right now, to help limit the actual physical attendees for the meaningful event.
How has technology become a deciding factor in where hotel guests want to stay?
We believe there are many factors that are influencing guest behaviors, with technology being one of them. As it relates to technology in a COVID-19 environment, we have found that guests are particularly interested in the Connected Room and Digital Key components of the Hilton Honors Mobile App because it virtually limits interpersonal interactions and promotes a nearly contactless experience. The additional benefit of housing all of these platforms within the Hilton Honors Mobile App, is that 106M+ Hilton Honors members will continue to earn points while they utilize our industry leading technology to take control of their experience in so many ways. Beyond technology, we are finding that many guests have been attracted to our Hotel’s large private outdoor spaces for additional social distancing and fresh air.
Will contactless technologies take away from the personal aspect of the hospitality industry?
There is a reason we call ourselves the Hospitality Industry, rather than the Hotel Industry: our product is made up of smiles and warm welcomes – the more personal the better, not less. Finding ways to limit our interactions with guests has never been part of the strategy. However, as an industry of hosts -- the Hospitality Industry -- has always been primarily about the experience that we deliver to our guests. Their comfort is the priority. At a time when personal interactions are intentionally limited and smiles are covered with face masks, the Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City is able to offer our guests additional comfort through the stress of travel, by providing them with technology.