HILTON is confident that its “resilient business model, spirit of innovation” and “a clear purpose” will tide it through this challenging period.
“Ultimately, we believe that will be this swift, responsive and adaptive innovation that will help us progress towards the travel and tourism sector’s eventual recovery,” said Hilton’s vice president, operations in Southeast Asia, Paul Hutton (pictured below) in an interview with Web in Travel.
Amidst all the uncertainty, the importance of having a clear Purpose cannot be emphasised enough. What serves as our consistent North Star has been the safety and well-being of our guests and team members,” he added.
Like most hospitality companies, Hilton has had to adapt its product to changing consumer segments and preferences. For one, it has had to invent guest experiences that now cater more to local domestic travellers rather than international ones.
“Our hotels have begun tailoring their response to local needs and demands, including the curation of creative guest experiences, to allow domestic travellers to immerse themselves in authentic local moments, health and wellness, delectable destination dining and exploration of the great outdoors,” said Hutton.
Hilton had earlier made the news for putting hygiene and cleanliness in the forefront of its marketing campaign. It made sense especially since surveys were showing that customers were valuing a hotel’s enhanced cleanliness, safety and hygiene practices above a good deal or discounts.
“While cleanliness and hygiene protocols used to be carried out back-of-house and after hours, these measures are now being made visible to our guests to help give them the assurance and peace of mind when they stay at any of our hotels around the world,” said Hutton.
Hilton has continued to push its Hilton CleanStay promise which indicates to guests that no one had re-entered their room since it was last cleaned and disinfected. Public areas, including fitness centers and pools, are cleaned more frequently, and stations with hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes have also been made available throughout the property at primary entrances, as well as areas with high traffic.
Hilton has also been minimizing physical contact for its guests, so in addition to implementing physical distancing measures, a contactless experience is also available to guests through innovations such as Digital Check-in, Digital Key and Connected Room.
“While we do anticipate that the new norm around enhanced hygiene and cleanliness will define the hotel experience in the immediate future, we are committed to setting the standard for the travel and tourism industry and will continue adapting to address evolving needs and preferences moving forward,” said Hutton.
Elaborating on Hilton’s “clear purpose” and “consistent north star”, Hutton said the importance of having that in place cannot be overemphasized.
“In every step of our response to this fast-changing situation, we remain focused on the fact that everything we do must be directed towards that very goal – that we protect our guests and team members,” said Hutton.
Illustrating how Hilton has done that, Hutton spoke of how the hotel company was among the first to provide its loyal customers the ability to cancel or modify their bookings, and also extended their membership status and validity of their points since they have largely been unable to travel.
Meanwhile, Hilton is not stepping on the breaks in its expansion plans for the region although delays have had to be accounted for. It recently announced three key openings – DoubleTree by Hilton Weerawila Rajawarna, Hilton Clark Sun Valley Resort and DoubleTree by Hilton Surabaya. Additional developments are in the pipeline including DoubleTree by Hilton Putrajaya Lakeside in Malaysia, and Hilton Garden Inn Phuket Bang Tao in Thailand later this year.
The downturn has also given it opportunity to refresh some of its older properties namely Hilton Bali in Indonesia, and Hilton Petaling Jaya in Malaysia, Millennium Hilton Bangkok, Hilton Hua Hin and Hilton Pattaya in Thailand, and Conrad Maldives. Conrad Koh Samui has had renovations made to its restaurants.
“We know that as the situation around the pandemic continues to be in flux, there is no room for complacency, as any lapse in vigilance can result in serious consequences for us all. As such, with people at the heart of what we do, and we will always strive to protect their safety and wellbeing, while staying nimble amidst these new realities,” said Hutton.