Hilton debuts first US iPhone, iPod Touch apps

Hilton Worldwide will launch iPhone and iPod Touch applications for seven of its hotel chains by the end of this year. It is the first time the company has used the channel in the US.

The free apps for the Hilton and DoubleTree brands launched November 10. The company will launch applications for the Conrad, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn brands throughout November and December.

The apps include a “request upon arrival” service that allows customers to order room service and have a meal waiting in their rooms. “Gold” and “diamond” members of the Hilton HHonors loyalty program can also use an “e-check in” up to 48 hours in advance.

Chuck Sullivan, SVP of global online services for Hilton Worldwide, said the apps’ goals include both customer acquisition and retention.

“Our objective is to make doing business with Hilton exceptionally easy,” he said. “If we can reduce the number of clicks and improve the user experience, we’ll make current guests happier, but we also want to share that experience with those who have yet to experience our brands.”

Users can also search and map hotels, as well as make, modify or cancel reservations. HHonors members can also redeem points and check point balances.

Hilton is promoting the applications on Twitter and with an aggressive PR push. Web banner ads promoting the apps will also soon launch across the company’s Web properties, said Sullivan.

The applications will be interconnected so that, for example, users interested in Embassy Suites can also check room availability at Homewood Suites.

“Over time, the different brands may choose to offer services based on their unique DNA and characteristics,” he said. “We wanted to enable that.”

Hilton already has iPhone applications in the UK and Germany that launched earlier this year. Sullivan said Hilton is exploring other markets, such as Japan, with high concentrations of mobile users.

He added that Hilton is considering applications for mobile devices other than the  iPhone and iPod Touch, but there is no timeline for these initiatives. Additionally, he said the company is exploring using travel applications within social media platforms.

Hilton reported a 59% increase in mobile revenue for this year’s third quarter, compared to 2009’s first quarter. The company said in a statement that mobile revenue has increased every quarter this year.

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