Business travelers are growing tired of meeting in outdated hotel spaces and working alone in their rooms. That’s why Hilton Hotels & Resorts is revamping its events strategy to strengthen its appeal to business travelers by upgrading the technology and design of its current offerings.
The chain says it’s in discussions with a number of franchisees open to adopting two new design concepts called ensemble and character rooms. Each is already in use at select Hilton locations, but the company now aims to expand availability for event planners and business travelers after positive market testing.
Character rooms, such as The Reverbery at the Hilton Austin, pay homage to a city’s culture — similar to lifestyle hotel brands — while ensemble rooms are modeled after a converted innovation lab built by the brand in 2017 at its Hilton McLean Tysons Corner property in Virginia. Both concepts offer wireless charging and digital whiteboards for presentations powered by cloud technology.
“We know that our customers want technology that is intuitive and helps enable successful, productive meetings,” said Vera Manoukian, Hilton’s global brand head. “Our new tech packages give both the meeting professional and attendee what they want.”
Since opening the ensemble room at Hilton McLean to customers two years ago, the property has earned 15 percent more in revenue compared to preexisting rooms, Manoukian added. Groups, meetings, and events currently drive 30 percent of Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ total annual revenue.
EMPHASIS ON COMMUNAL AREAS
Hilton has focused heavily on its meeting room transformation over the past year, including the launch of its meetings and events specific brand Signia Hilton in February. The hotel chain is also concerned with travelers’ willingness to work outside their hotel rooms.
“Customers do not want to be in a room and instead choose to work near lobbies with access to a hotel’s F&B [food and beverage] presence, among other amenities,” said Manoukian. “We are enhancing those spaces to make them conducive for all-day work.”
That includes opening restaurants like Varia in Hilton’s Norfolk hotel to the public outside of business hours, she added. As per any renovation projects at Hilton’s hotels, franchisees will pick up the tab on all changes. Owners can also choose how many concept rooms they want to build.
Hilton says it’s still too early to determine how quickly the chain will expand its new concept rooms and communal areas to its nearly 600 existing locations, but it will work together with managers to implement them.
“While meeting attendees and planners are our customers, the hotel teams and owners are also, so we want this to be a collaborative process that’s customizable for each property,” Manoukian said.