Hilton Worldwide CMO Geraldine Calpin has taken major steps to redefine and reinvent the guest experience. In May she was named to the Ad Age Women to Watch list, in no small part because of her leadership and innovation in using digital, mobile, analytics, and internet of things (IoT) technology in new and creative ways.
In this exclusive interview, Calpin, who sets the strategic marketing direction for Hilton’s 13 brands, provided insight into the evolution of the guest experience. She also talked about what it will take to outdo the expectations of demanding, digitally-connected customers in the future.
DS: Every CMO is vexed by how to engage, empower, and delight tech-savvy and always-connected customers. Where does a marketer need to invest to gain sustainable competitive advantage and deliver a superior guest experience?
Calpin: In today’s environment, to deliver a superior guest experience you need to go above and beyond and be obsessive about innovating for the guest–[to] never stop, make things much simpler, eliminate friction in the travel experience, and better recognize and reward your best customers.
Technology gives us an amazing toolkit to redefine the guest experience in game-changing ways. [It gives us] analytics to better understand customers; mobile and intelligent devices to engage, track, and assist guests; and digital and social channels to communicate.
The trick is to use these technology tools to find new and better ways we can deliver white-glove treatment [to our guests], like providing advanced check-in, room selection, and keys to the room right on their mobile phones; helping them find local hot spots or relevant activities to enhance their stay; anticipating their service needs in advance to exceed expectations and avoid problems before they happen; and giving them more control and choice when it comes to rooms, amenities, activities, and environment.