Delivering check-in capabilities via kiosks and the Web was a logical follow-up to the completion last year of the company's $50 million OnQ customer-information environment, Hilton CIO Tim Harvey says. The transactional information flow required to tie hotel front desks with the check-in process in OnQ is being replicated for the Kiosk and Web channels. "Whether it's done manually by a person, online, or via kiosk, a check-in is a check-in is a check-in," Harvey says. "You just reuse the check-in logic."
Guests approaching the wireless kiosks slide their credit card or Hilton Honors loyalty card into the machine. The kiosk accesses reservation information by issuing a Web-services call to OnQ, then gives guests the option of changing their credit-card numbers and other personal information, after which the machine dispenses one or more room-key cards. The 45 hotels will get an average of three kiosks, and a full-time attendant will be assigned to provide any assistance guests need in using them.
It was hoped the kiosks would be used by 5% of guests arriving at the New York and Chicago properties, but in the six months they've been in operation, 15% of guests have put them to use, Harvey says. With such success under its belt, Hilton will up the ante by introducing two additional kiosk capabilities in relatively short order: VIP guests will have the ability to upgrade their room types by year's end; and sometime in 2005, the kiosks will be able to print airline boarding passes for guests who offer their frequent flier account information.
Meanwhile, the Web check-in tool will let guests print documents with bar codes that can then be read by the kiosks or can be handed to front desk agents to speed the check-in process at properties that aren't equipped with kiosks. Chuck Scoggins, senior director of Hilton.com, says integration challenges made the new check-in options unfeasible prior to the OnQ deployment. "Imagine trying to do something like this with multiple property-management systems. Impossible."
The move toward more flexibility in its interaction with customers reflects the evolving way in which guests are booking hotel rooms with Hilton. Some 13% of guests now book Hilton rooms online, and that channel is growing by 45% annually, says Dar Yasseri, director of CRM operations.