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Hilton turning your iPhone into a front desk, room key, and more

Front desk, Hilton Garden Inn Denver South/Meridian

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. has spent over a half-billion dollars to provide new technology that will ease choosing hotel rooms, checking into hotels, and even unlocking the door to a room -- from your iPhone or iPad.

As announced in a Wall Street Journal post yesterday, guests are already able to check in or out of any US Hilton property using the free Hilton HHonors app, and can also make or modify reservations, get special offers, have items delivered to a room upon arrival, and more. By summer's end, travelers will be able to select their own rooms by phone at six of the Hilton brands.

But the real push comes next year, when guests arriving at a Hilton property will just pass by the front desk and unlock the door to their room with their iPhone or iPad. The company expects that capability to be in most worldwide properties by the end of 2016.

Making this massive rollout possible is the result of a project that has been underway since 2007 during which Hilton took 13 different property management systems (one for each brand) and melded them into one, then upgraded servers, back-office equipment, and more. Hilton's setup allows guests to interact directly with its reservation system, eliminating the need for front-desk employees to input guest information.

The company also expects that since guests will be able to perform a number of functions from a smartphone, they'll also see efficiencies in the future as fewer front-desk personnel will be required. Other hotel companies, including Starwood, Marriott, and InterContinental, are also moving in a similar direction.

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