Skift Take

Germaphobes will be relieved not to have to touch a hotel room remote control again.

It’s still light years away before hotels offer voice-controlled guest rooms, but Hilton Worldwide has taken a step toward that happy future by adding a feature to its mobile app that lets your smartphone act like a remote control for key room functions.

At select properties, users of the Hilton Honors app can control the TV, lighting, and temperature of their guest room.

But chances are small that your next stay at a Hilton this year will encounter the Jetsons-like functionality.

For the feature to work, a hotel has to have been one of the nearly 500 rooms to be upgraded so far to the new technology, with about 1,000 rooms set to be outfitted with the technology by end of the year.

It may take a few years before the service is standardized at the chain’s more than 5,300 properties.

Manual controls will remain for guests preferring not to fumble with their phones. The controls for the TV will be found on a simplified remote and the controls for the room will be built into the TV.

The move, dubbed “the Connected Room,” was first announced by Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO, on-stage at the Skift Global Forum in September.

It’s still early days for the Connected Room service. But the vision is ambitious. As Joshua Sloser, senior vice president of digital, shared the next goal to Skift last December: “If you like your room cold and to have ESPN on the TV, the room can start cooling once you check in,” he said.

The hotel group also hopes for operational benefits. One promising idea is that the app may encourage guests to save energy by syncing the air conditioning with their schedule and not run the system when no one is expected to be in the room for hours.

Hilton hopes for commercial benefits, too. A guest has to be a Hilton Honors loyalty member and a user of the Hilton Honors mobile app to take advantage of the functionality. That requirement may help woo more travelers to join the company’s program and be tempted to book directly rather than through agencies.

Hilton’s app breaks with the worldwide standard. “Most hotel apps with in-stay functionality only allow you to book your hotel reservation or message the concierge,” as Skift noted last summer.

Marriott, Accor, and Hyatt have been actively working to add functionality, though. Marriott has led in enabling guests to stream content from their own devices via guest-room TVs. And more and more mobile apps are offering keyless guest room entry as a service.

Another new feature of the app is the ability to let Hilton Honors members stream selected Showtime cable TV programs, such as “Homeland” and “Billions,” for free without needing to have a cable TV subscription.

Now if only the app would let you part the drapes by voice control. Now wouldn’t that be *really* cool?

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Tags: hilton, hilton honors, luxury

Photo credit: The temperature control option being added to the Hilton Honors mobile app in a staged rollout will enable guests to keep rooms set at a temperature they like without having to touch a room thermostat. Hilton

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