by Michael J. Shapiro | August 04, 2015
Hilton Worldwide's Digital Key technology should become available to open guest rooms in more than 250 properties by the end of the first quarter in 2016, according to Rob Scypinski, Hilton's senior vice president of industry relations and events for the Americas. The functionality, which resides within the HHonors smartphone app, will soon be in use at 30 properties as part of a nationwide pilot program. It already is available at the 252-room Hilton Alexandria Old Town, in Alexandria, Va.

Currently, the app can be used to check in and select a room at all hotels within Hilton Worldwide's portfolio, as long as the guest is an HHonors member and booked the hotel directly using Hilton's channels. "One out of four HHonors members check in this way already," noted Scypinski, "and our studies show digital check-in and room selection have a 93 percent satisfaction rating. So we intend to extend this to the whole solution, from room selection to room unlock."

Of interest to planners, Scypinski added, the team is looking at extending the benefit to room blocks. "We don't want to penalize HHonors guests who are booking into part of a convention block," he admitted, although it isn't clear when that capability will be added.

The Digital Key function currently works on the iPhone 4S and later, in iOS 8; by the end of this year the feature will be released to Android and Windows phones. The technology will be rolled out to Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and Canopy hotels first before being installed across the rest of the Hilton brands. Eventually, added Scypinski, e-folio billing data also will be added to the app.