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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card
Technology has truly revolutionized the travel industry, whether it’s staying connected while on the road or using keyless entry to access your hotel room. Sometimes these enhancements are just plain cool, like the feature Hilton just announced for its app. When you complete your online check-in using the Hilton HHonors app on your iOS or Android device, you’ll now see Google Maps integrated into the user interface, allowing you to select your room based on its geographic location.
According to the official press release, Hilton HHonors members have used the app over 13 million times to check in and choose their specific room, and now this process comes with more information about the hotel’s specific location in the neighborhood. This new functionality is the result of member feedback, says Geraldine Calpin, Chief Marketing Officer of Hilton Worldwide. “Our guests love having the ability to choose their own rooms, but they have asked us to provide more detail about the hotel’s surroundings, and we have delivered.”
It’s also all about personalizing the travel experience, according to Mark Weinstein, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Loyalty and Partnerships for Hilton Worldwide. “By continually evolving our Hilton HHonors app, we’re empowering our members with more control over their stay experience,” he says.
The new functionality is limited to those who book directly through Hilton channels or preferred corporate travel partners, and while Google Maps is currently only integrated in the mobile app, it will become available through the various Hilton brand websites this summer. You can begin the room selection process at 6am the day before your stay. After indicating your arrival time, you’ll be given a floor plan of the hotel and shown the available rooms (denoted by green circles):
These maps are also accompanied by photos and other details of the available rooms, ensuring that your selected accommodations match your preferences. You’ll even be able to use the app to request a Digital Key at participating hotels and head straight to your chosen room upon arrival, armed with your smartphone to unlock the door and skipping the hassle of stop at the front desk.
Is this truly worthwhile?
On the surface, this may seem like just a neat enhancement, but I can definitely see the utility in it. I enjoy a room with a view (as I’m sure many of you do), so by seeing the hotel floor plan laid out on Google Maps, you can identify whether your selected room overlooks a freeway or has views of the adjacent park. There are also plans to integrate popular landmarks and nearby attractions into the app, so you can get a feel for whether your room offers a view of a local point-of-interest.
I also like the ability to select a room based on the direction its windows face. I have first-hand experience of what happens with an east-facing window and a one-year old in a hotel room. If the sunrise happens at 6:42am, she wakes up at 6:42am! By choosing a room that doesn’t face east, I can minimize that bright sun streaming through the window at the crack of dawn.
Maximizing stays at Hilton properties
Of course, there are many ways to make the most of your stays at Hilton properties besides choosing your room based on its geographic location. You’ll first want to decide whether to double-dip with an airline partner or choose to earn bonus Hilton HHonors points instead. You’ll also want to make sure to sign up for any promotion, like the current double points offer for summer 2016, and if you have status with another chain, you could take advantage of a status match.
Another way to earn Hilton status is by signing up for one (or more) of the chain’s co-branded credit cards. My personal favorite is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of two weekend nights after making $2,500 in purchases within the first first four months after account opening. You’ll earn another free weekend night if you spend $10,000 in a cardmembership year, and the card comes with automatic Gold status.
It’s great to see travel providers continuing to innovate, and this newest feature in the Hilton HHonors app isn’t necessarily revolutionary but still may provide some added value for your next stay. I’m spending a night at the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island later this month (with my anniversary certificate from the Citi Hilton Reserve card), so I’m excited to give this new functionality a spin!
What do you think about this new integration?
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