Skift Take

Hilton's experiment with the ride-sharing service finally offers a bit more than just reminding you to hail an Uber from the Hilton HHonors mobile app.

Hilton may not have been the first hospitality company to partner with Uber — that distinct honor goes to Starwood — but it is the first hotel company that’s allowing its loyalty members to view their hotel stay information and be able to check-in from the Uber app, all while they travel to their hotel in the very Uber they were reminded to book from their Hilton HHonors app.

Now, when a Hilton HHonors guest’s stay is approaching, the Uber app will pre-set his or her Hilton hotel as the recommended destination and once they get into their Uber ride, they can tap a “View Stay Details” option in the Uber app that takes them to the Hilton HHonors app. From there, they can check in, choose their room, and request a Digital Key while they make their way to the property.

This new feature is an expansion of Hilton’s partnership with the San Francisco-based ridesharing platform that was originally announced in September 2015. Originally, the partnership only allowed Hilton HHonors members to set automatic notifications to request Uber rides to and from Hilton properties, as well as access a digital guide of restaurants and other hot spots highly frequented by fellow Uber riders — all via the Hilton HHonors mobile app.

Now that both the Uber and Hilton loyalty apps are further integrated, it’s much easier for loyalty members to order an Uber directly from their Hilton HHonors mobile app, and simpler for Uber riders to access their hotel stay information from the Uber app. To take advantage of the new benefits, guests must have both apps and have a current hotel reservation booked under their Hilton HHonors accounts.

“The success of our Uber partnership is rooted in a shared passion for finding new ways to take friction out of travel,” Rich DiStefano, senior director of mobile products at Hilton Worldwide, said in a press release. “By further integrating our mobile apps, we’re simplifying the steps it takes for our Hilton HHonors members to obtain the quick information they seek, ultimately providing them with a better experience.”

Hilton says that since the original September partnership was launched, the partnership with Uber has been popular among its guests. According to Hilton, nearly one-fifth of its loyalty members who engaged with the app before or during their hotel stay accessed the digital Local Scene guide, making it one of the app’s most popular features. More than 2,000 Ride Reminders, or notifications synced to Hilton bookings, were also set within the first two weeks of the program’s debut. Of those guests who have set Ride Reminders, 58 percent have set an additional reminder.

Hilton’s Loyalty Push

Providing added benefits to Hilton HHonors members is part of a much larger marketing strategy on Hilton’s part. Like many other hotel companies — Marriott included — Hilton is incentivizing its guests to join its loyalty program for added perks like free Wi-Fi; points eligible for hotel stays; access to digital tools like mobile check-in, a mobile room key; exclusive events and experiences; and the lowest possible rates.

Earlier this year, the company launched its largest advertising campaign ever — “Stop Clicking Around” — promising the lowest exclusive discounted hotel rates to guests who book direct on Beginning April 11, Marriott is taking that strategy one step further, offering new lower hotel booking rates exclusively to its Marriott Rewards loyalty program members.

Both of those initiatives are tied to a bigger conflict between hotel companies and third-party distribution channels that include online travel agencies like Expedia or Priceline. By adding more enticements for their loyalty members, whether in the form of new mobile app features for a seamless travel experience or lowest possible rates, Hilton and Marriott are doing all they can to gain more market share back from those online travel agencies, and gain more loyal customers in the process.

Uber’s Business Travel Push

Uber has been known to partner with various established travel brands, presumably to grow its usage especially among business traveler. As early as August 2014, Uber teamed up with United Airlines to let the airline’s app users access information about Uber rides. Uber’s deal with Starwood, which began in February 2015, lets riders link their accounts to their Starwood Preferred Guest accounts and accrue SPG points to be used at any Starwood hotel around the world.

In February, American Airlines teamed up with Uber to allow its flyers to set a Ride Reminder to call an Uber before their flights, and passengers can use the American Airlines app to find the closest Uber pick-up location at select airports once they land. American AAdvantage credit card holders will also receive bonus miles on Uber spending.

This business travel strategy seems to be working: Uber and other ride-sharing apps have become the transportation option of choice among business travelers, many of whom also belong to the loyalty programs offered by airlines and hotels.

So, it only makes sense for Uber and Hilton to partner together.

“We are always looking for ways to make the travel experience better, and are happy to have found such a strong, inventive partner in Hilton,” Jonathan DiOrio, head of travel partnerships at Uber, said in a statement. “Following the success of Local Scene and Ride Reminder, we are taking an additional step forward in our integration by offering guests access to their stay details while they are in an Uber.”

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Tags: hilton, uber

Photo credit: A user and an Uber driver in a promotional image. Uber

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