Hilton Worldwide and Uber customers wanted an elevated customer experience and, as a result of the expanded partnership between the two companies, that will happen via an integration of apps.
Rich DiStefano, Senior Director, Mobile Products at Hilton Worldwide, explained the expanded partnership and heightened customer experience to Loyalty360.

What factors prompted Hilton’s expanded partnership with Uber and what are Hilton’s goals for this from a customer engagement/customer experience perspective?
DiStefano: Originally launched in September 2015, our partnership with Uber was prompted by the fact that today’s travelers want their trips to be personalized and customizable, and they seek on-demand services that can make travel more convenient. The March integration of our apps gives guests the convenient and personalized experiences they desire, while also better connecting travelers to not just our properties, but to their local surroundings – driving added customer loyalty and affinity to our brands. Uber shares our customer-centric mindset and vision for making the travel experience easier and more seamless. By partnering with Uber, we’re continuing to take the friction out of the travel planning process and making unfamiliar cities even more accessible to our guests.
How long has Hilton had a mobile app and how popular has it been?
DiStefano: Our mobile app has been a key part of our history in recent years. We re-launched the Hilton HHonors app in July of 2014 with the introduction of digital check-in with room selection, which allowed guests to check in and choose their desired room through a digital floor plan. A year later, we launched Digital Key, allowing guests to go straight to their room using their smartphone. Since the app’s re-launch, it has been downloaded more than four million times and has received the highest average Apple Store customer rating of all hospitality apps.
In September 2015, we partnered with Uber on two new features that are making it easier for our guests to travel like locals. Ride Reminder sends automated notifications to remind guests to order transportation to and from the hotel. Local Scene is an exclusive list of popular restaurants and nightlife locations hosted on the HHonors app and chosen based on Uber rider drop-off/pick-up data. Local Scene is available in 20 North American cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington D.C., among others, marking the first time a company has leveraged Uber’s data in such a way to provide local recommendations.
Since launch, more than 250,000 travelers within the U.S. have used Local Scene and Ride Reminder to simplify their stay. Within four months of its launch, almost one-fifth of HHonors members who engaged with the app prior to or during their stay explored the Local Scene, a list of the most popular venues in a market based on the destinations of Uber riders in that area. The level of Local Scene usage made the tool one of the top performing features on the Hilton HHonors app.
What makes this partnership unique?
DiStefano: Our partnership is focused on new ideas with Uber based on our collective data and services. In a first for the hospitality industry, we now offer a unique digital tool for our guests to use when exploring their destinations: Local Scene, which lists the most popular restaurants and nightlife locations with Uber riders in select U.S. cities. The recent co-branded enhancement enables another level of simplicity for our guests and Uber riders staying with us.
How big is digital customer engagement at Hilton, and how big can it be?
DiStefano: We’re dedicated to making the digital customer experience seamless, easy-to-use, and more personalized in order to delight our guests with a memorable, holistic experience. As travel companies, we need to bridge the physical and digital worlds in a way that’s personable, meaningful, and not distracting to the traveler’s experience. So much of our success in connecting and building loyalty with travelers hinges on being nimble and rising to the challenge to bring all guests the type of experiences they seek. We’re seeing commonalities in our guests’ desires for customization and personalization. They want unique experiences. They want authenticity. They want transparency.
We engage with our guests on the digital platforms and channels they use most in order to gain insights into their needs. We’ve enhanced our mobile and digital tools to allow them to customize their stay experience. We have several initiatives in place to ensure our guests receive the best experience possible that’s tailored to their specific needs. Our enhanced Hilton HHonors app has become a “one stop shop” for HHonors members – now they can book, check-in, select their exact room, order amenities prior to arrival, and use their smartphone as a key, in addition to exploring their destinations off-property for a holistic digital experience. This is an exciting time in our industry – we only expect to see these experiences grow and improve for simpler, more seamless travel.  

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