Skift Take

Hilton knows that while technology can be a great problem-solver, the company can't ever forget that it's rooted in the hospitality industry, where, oftentimes, service and true hospitality simply can't be automated.

Hilton, the global hospitality company, turns 100 next year, and while the company has accomplished a number of achievements in innovation for the last 100 years, it’s not content to rest on its laurels for the next 100.

That was the key message Chris Silcock, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Hilton, noted during his conversation with Skift CEO and Founder Rafat Ali at the inaugural Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley this June.

“Our relentless focus for some time now, because of changes in distribution, sales, marketing, disruptors, has been on the experience,” Silcock said. “Singly put, that’s the most important thing.”

For Hilton, that means doubling down on the guest experience.

“The one thing that will enable us to remain a leader in hospitality is if when [guests] arrive at one of our hotels, when they engage with us, they feel it’s s different experience,” he said. “They feel it’s a better experience for them. That may mean personalization, that may mean ease of use, that may mean efficiency. But ultimately it has to feel different.”

Silcock described Hilton as “100-year-old startup” and said the company will continue to try to find ways to not only differentiate the guest experience but make it better, whether it be through features such as the Internet of Things-powered Connected Room, Digital Key entry, and many other tech investments.

He also hopes the travel and hospitality industry as a whole seizes on the opportunity.

“We collectively have this multigenerational opportunity right now with the changing needs, desires, wants of our customers, along with the maturation of technology,” Silcock added. “We collectively have the opportunity to reinvent the travel experience. Relevancy has to be at the heart of how we reinvent this experience. Not gimmicks, not tech for tech’s sake, but relevancy.”

And even as Hilton harnesses technology to try to solve problems in the guest experience, Silcock said the company won’t forget that it is a business built on the idea of “people serving people.”

You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Tech Forum.

At Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley, travel tech executives gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation.

For more details on the upcoming Skift Restaurants Forum and Skift Global Forum in New York City, please visit our Forum site for details.

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Tags: hilton, skift tech forum, stf2018, videos

Photo credit: Hilton executive vice president and chief commercial officer Chris Silcock spoke at the inaugural Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley in June 2018. Skift

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