31.07.2014

Hilton Revolutionizes Hotel Experience with Digital Check-In, Room Selection and Customization, and Check-Out across 650,000-Plus Rooms at More Than 4,000 Properties Worldwide

 ©2014 Hilton Worldwide
©2014 Hilton Worldwide
First hospitality company to enable room selection and customization via mobile and web-based floor plans; Company also announces that guests will be able to use their smartphone as their room key in majority of hotel rooms by 2016.

In a first for the hospitality industry, Hilton Worldwide today announced its guests will have unprecedented choice and control over their entire hotel stay with the ability to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans, as well as customize their stay by purchasing upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered to their room, on their mobile devices, tablets and computers.  Guests also will be able to check-out using these personal technology devices.  By the end of 2014, digital check-in and room selection will be available at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties across 11 brands in 80-plus countries via members' Hilton HHonors accounts.

"For nearly a century, our guests have counted on us to consistently deliver exceptional experiences around the world, and in today's digitally connected culture, that means providing them with more choice and control over their hotel stay through technology," said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and chief executive officer, Hilton Worldwide. "The tremendous scale of our world-class operating platform enables us to quickly and nimbly introduce exciting enhancements for our guests at all of our hotels worldwide."

Today's announcement represents the latest industry-first in Hilton's rich history of innovation. The company piloted an initial version of digital check-in more than five years ago, and in 2012 it launched Conrad Concierge, the first hospitality software application that enables guests to customize their hotel experience through their tablets or smartphones. Going forward, Hilton anticipates delivering further digital advancements to guests every six to eight weeks.

"We analyzed data and feedback from more than 40 million HHonors members, as well as guest surveys, social media posts and review sites, and it's clear that guests want greater choice and control," said Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide. "In fact, in a recent study, 84 percent of business travelers surveyed said they wanted the ability to choose their own room.  We are giving our guests the ability to do just that by enabling them to select not just their room type, but the exact location in the hotel, all the way down to their room number."

Simple and Streamlined Process

Once a room is booked, the process for guests to manage their stay is simple:

• Room selection: At 6 a.m. the day before a booked stay, Hilton HHonors members can sign into their account via their mobile device, tablet or computer to check-in and choose their preferred room through floor plan maps or lists populated from the hotel's available inventory. Photos of rooms are also available to help with their selection. Hilton's digital lobby function is updated in real-time, so guests no longer have to wait until they are physically in the hotel lobby to be assigned a room.

• Special requests:
After choosing a room, guests can further customize their stay at full-service hotels by purchasing upgrades and requesting specific amenities to be delivered to their room before arrival.

• Room key:
Next year, the company will begin to equip its hotel rooms with the technology for doors to be unlocked with guests' smartphones, enabling them to go straight to their rooms upon arrival. For now, once they arrive on property, guests simply pick up their room key from the front desk, a streamlined process since the guest's payment information and other details are already verified through their Hilton HHonors account prior to arrival.

• Check-out:
Guests can bypass the front desk upon departure as their bill will be automatically sent to their email address.

The Future of Room Keys at Hilton

As part of its digital strategy, Hilton has made a commitment to enable all of its hotel rooms worldwide with technology that will allow guests to use their smartphones as keys.

Said Nassetta, "Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms.  We have spent the past few years testing a number of different options to make this vision a reality, and we are developing proprietary technology that is safe and reliable for our guests to use, and cost-effective for our hotels to install."

Rapid Roll Out Across Hilton Properties Globally

Hilton is rolling out these digital enhancements globally over the next several months:

• By the end of this summer, Hilton HHonors members can check-in and choose their room from digital floor plan maps online or via the Apple and Android HHonors apps across the following U.S. brands: Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites.

• The functionality will also be available at DoubleTree by Hilton and Embassy Suites Hotels properties within the U.S. this fall.

• By the end of 2014, room selection, either from digital floor plans or lists, will be available globally for over 650,000 rooms at more than 4,000 hotels across Hilton's portfolio of 11 brands.

• Digital check-out, currently available at all U.S. hotels, will be rolled out globally by the end of 2016.
In 2015, Hilton will introduce technology that enables smartphones to be used as room keys, and all U.S. hotels across four of its brands will have this capability by the end of that year. By the end of 2016, the majority of its rooms system-wide will be equipped with this functionality.

INFOGRAPHIC: Hilton Worldwide - Digital Lobby Infographic

Hilton Worldwide - Digital Lobby Infographic


31.07.2014

RoboCup WM 2016 is coming to Leipzig

RoboCup 2016 ©Leipziger Messe
RoboCup 2016 ©Leipziger Messe
For the first time in ten years, the world championship of robots will be taking place
in Germany again.

In the summer of 2016, Leipziger Messe will host the 20th RoboCup, the world championship of robots. The leading international robotics event takes place in a different country each year. It was last held in Germany in 2006, parallel to the soccer world championship, and delighted thousands of visitors in Bremen. “RoboCup is a fascinating event − participants demonstrate top scientific and technical achievements in an entertaining way,” says Markus Geisenberger, Managing Director of Leipziger Messe. “This event is just as interesting for experts as it is for the media and the audience. We are so pleased that our joint proposal with the German RoboCup National Committee, WorldSkills Germany, the Free State of Saxony, and the city of Leipzig has been a success. We would also like to thank the Federal Ministry of Education and Science, as well as our many supporters from business, science and media.”

Up to 3,000 participants from over 40 countries have their autonomous robots compete against each other and solve complex problems at the RoboCup World Championship. In addition to soccer-playing robots, visitors will also meet robots that independently search for survivors in disaster regions or that perform various tasks in an apartment in interaction with humans. At RoboCupJunior, the RoboCup for students up to the age of 20, robots not only play soccer but, among other things, dance to music or come to grips
with an obstacle course. Parallel to the competitions, extending over several days, a conference on the latest scientific developments in artificial intelligence and robotics will be held.

With the RoboCup German Open, one of the world’s leading regional RoboCup competitions has been taking place in Magdeburg since 2011. And at the world championships, German participants have represented the largest group for years. That’s why organizing the 2016 World Cup in Germany is a special highlight. “We want to make this RoboCup an event that participants and visitors, as well as Leipzig’s residents, will
remember for a long time,” says Gerhard Kraetzschmar, Vice President of the RoboCup Federation and General Chair of RoboCup 2016. “Together with Leipziger Messe and WorldSkills Germany, we have presented a solid, professional concept and are convinced that Leipzig is the ideal place for our world championship.”

Robo Cup 2016 ©Leipziger Messe
Robo Cup 2016 ©Leipziger Messe
Federal government, Free State of Saxony and the city of Leipzig support the RoboCup World Championship 2016
The Federal Minister for Education and Science, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, and Saxony’s Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Labor and Transport, Sven Morlok, will take on the
patronage for the RoboCup World Championship 2016. “Saxony is a technology state and an extremely important location for microelectronics. This renders the Free State and the
city of Leipzig a good and suitable host for the RoboCup World Championship 2016,” says Minister of State, Morlok. “Saxony is home to innovators who create new products through constantly new ideas. Particularly the excellent networking between science, research and technology companies in the Free State creates the right conditions for high-tech developments “made in Saxony.” Robots that can play soccer are a major scientific achievement and the result of perfect coordination among several disciplines. I am looking forward to the RoboCup World Championship 2016 and am pleased to be a patron.”

The bid was also supported by the city. “Leipzig enjoys an excellent reputation as a location for science,” says Mayor Burkhard Jung. “People have always come here to present innovations, and to exchange information and know-how. The RoboCup World Championship unites science, technology and sports, and audiences can observe spectacular performances. And it doesn’t matter if the robots score seven goals or just one.”

The 20th RoboCup World Championship with accompanying conference will take place from 30 June to 4July 2016, at Leipziger Messe.

For more Information visit: www.leipziger-messe.de


23.07.2014

Future of the events industry explored at Meeting Experts Conference (MEXCON) 2014

MEXCON 2014 ©GCB
MEXCON 2014 ©GCB
The Meeting Experts Conference (MEXCON) was hosted, for the second time, by Berlin last month. Taking place 11th to 13th June, MEXCON gave its 600 participants the opportunity to exchange views – not only with colleagues in the events sector, but also with politicians and economists. The program included specialist forums with eminent speakers and industry experts, a specialist congress as well as numerous networking opportunities.
 
The key subject at MEXCON, which was organised by the German Convention Bureau (GCB) together with the EVVC (European Association of Event Centres), was the future of events. Keynote speakers and experts hosted various workshops exploring the results of the study "Meetings and Conventions in the Future" published in autumn 2013. 
 
For example, one subject on the agenda was working relationships and employees in the future:
"Generation Y" who are less interested in conventional status symbols and rate happiness, recognition and appreciation more highly than a large salary. Experts advised on how traditional work structures need to change accordingly: to make the best use of employees' potential, companies need to allow them more freedom and individual responsibility. Work processes need to be streamlined to make them more attractive.
 
Digitalisation, now apparent in all aspects of everyday life, was another focus of MEXCON, explored in various keynotes and sessions. However, in the events sector one thing stood out: despite the advances in technology which combines digital media and hybrid elements with classical formats, there is still a great need for face-to-face meetings and experiences which only events can provide.
 
MEXCON not only focused on the future of events through its content – it was also reflected in its format with organisers designing an innovative programme with interactive formats. This enabled management and staff in the sector to contribute their expertise to the conference and benefit from each other's experience very effectively.

Alongside the MEXCON organisers, GCB and EVVC, the Germany Chapter of MPI Meeting Professionals International contributed as a co-organiser. Co-operation partners involved in MEXCON 2014 included the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the German Business Travel Association (VDR), the Association of German Event Organisers, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association Deutschland e. V. (HSMA) and the Association of German Stadium Operators. MEXCON was also supported by the visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office.


22.07.2014

Educational trip to Düsseldorf, Cologne and Bonn inspires meeting and event planners

 ©KoelnTourismus_GmbH_Axel_Schulten
©KoelnTourismus_GmbH_Axel_Schulten
Space, classical music and boats all formed part of a successful educational trip organised by the GCB last month.

In conjunction with Düsseldorf Convention Bureau, Cologne Convention Bureau and Bonn Region Convention Bureau, the GCB hosted 11 corporate and association clients along with agencies from throughout Europe.

They visited the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne with many extending their stay in Germany with a trip to Bonn.

Guests from across the UK, Austria, Italy, Netherlands and Denmark enjoyed a packed programme of site inspections at hotels and venues as well as a real insight into the industry expertise and cultural gems of each city.

In Düsseldorf, guests enjoyed a walking tour with a difference. The City Rally takes visitors through the old town, challenging their city knowledge with questions and tasting local specialities like the renowned Löwensenf (mustard) – a fun way to explore and learn about a new location. This was followed by a boat tour through the old town and MediaHarbour – a section of the old Rhine harbour which has been transformed into a centre for the creative industries.
Duesseldorf ©GCB
Duesseldorf ©GCB

A visit to the European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne proved particularly popular as Graham Robinson from Venue Finder Solutions, who formed part of the group, comments:

“The star event was our visit to the EAC – I enjoyed the high quality facilities and professional talks from people who clearly enjoy their job. The venue stands out as being so different from anything else, but of immense interest.”

Cologne’s expertise in aerospace industry was explored with a visit to the Astronaut Training Facilities for European Astronauts as well as a guided tour through :envihab, a medical research facility of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine of the German Aerospace Center. The experience of Cologne was rounded off with a picnic dinner at the reopened venue Flora, where guests enjoyed regional dishes.
Bonn ©GCB
Bonn ©GCB

The visit to Bonn included site inspections at the impressive design hotel Kameha Grand Bonn and the World Conference Center, the city’s former parliament building. One of the cultural highlights enabled guests to celebrate Bonn’s most famous resident with a Beethoven concert.

Gianni Giovine, WOLF CommunicAction in Italy, would like to include Bonn in his portfolio, claiming: “Come to Bonn and take decisions where major decisions have been taken.”

The educational trip was a great success with guests impressed by the offering of all three cities. Participants praised the ‘perfect organisation’ of the trip and the majority confirmed they would recommend the destinations to their clients and consider them for future events.

Last chance to join a GCB Educational Trip in 2014!

Potsdam and Berlin, 31st August - 3rd September 2014. For more details, and to register, click here: http://www.gcb.de/en/gcb-educational-trip-to-potsdam-berlin-2014
For more information please contact Nina Streich (Streich@gcb.de), phone +49 69 24293029.

Sponsored by:

 ©GCB
©GCB

22.07.2014

Germany’s biggest city festival returns to Dresden

 ©Christoph Muench
©Christoph Muench
Over 550,000 visitors are expected at the biggest annual city festival in Germany - Dresden’s 2014 City Festival. Taking place from 15 - 17 August, the event boasts 13 areas, on seven stages in glorious Baroque scenery with a wonderful mix of music, theatre, sport and food – a great way to spend a summer’s weekend.
Dresden’s 2014 City Festival, dedicated to the Royal painter Canaletto, has plenty to entertain visitors. Don’t miss the Dresden Fürstenzug “Procession of Princes”, a 335 ft. long, Meissen Porcelain Wall showing all rulers of the Wettin dynasty - ancestors of almost all European Royalty. The Royal Palace, the baroque Dresden Zwinger and the beautifully rebuilt baroque centre of Dresden are also ‘must-sees’. 
The theme for this year’s festival is ‘passionately romantic’ and the event is set to leave visitors feeling passionate about Dresden for many years to come.
Getting to Dresden is easy with direct flights from London City Airport. 


21.07.2014

Take off with Lufthansa - New Premium Economy Class now available for UK bookings

 ©Lufthansa
©Lufthansa
Lufthansa’s new Premium Economy Class is now available for booking on flights flown by Boeing 747-8 aircraft. From 10 December, the Premium Economy Class will have guaranteed availability on all flights served by the new jumbo. Destinations that can now be booked for onward connecting flights from Frankfurt include Buenos Aires, Chicago, Hong Kong, Mexico City, São Paulo, Seoul, Beijing and Washington, D.C. 
 
From late January 2015, the first retrofitted A340-600 aircraft are scheduled to take off from Munich for Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo and from late April 2015 retrofitted A380-800 aircraft are planned to fly from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, New York, Miami, Houston, San Francisco, Shanghai and Singapore.
 
To mark the start of Premium Economy ticket sales, a range of special promotional return fares are on offer for UK passengers travelling from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. These include £909 to Seoul, £949 to Hong Kong, £999 to Beijing, £1099 to Sao Paulo and £1199 to Buenos Aires. These fares are inclusive of all taxes and charges and can be booked up until 12th June for travel between 10th December 2014 and 28th March 2015. 
 
“We have had an incredible response to our Premium Economy Class since its launch. With the attractive introductory fares this new travel experience is even more within reach allowing our customers to benefit from up to 50 per cent more personal space,” said Christian Schindler, Lufthansa General Manager UK & Ireland.
 
“The design and features of the seat are based on extensive passenger surveys and workshops with sales partners. More than 1.5 million passengers per year will be able to enjoy a new travel experience with the installation of 3,600 seats in all 106 long-haul aircraft in just one year.” 
 
The new seats are up to 3 centimetres wider and provide greater privacy as well as approximately 10 centimetres more room at the side.. As a result, passengers have around one-and-a-half times as much room as Economy Class. Practical features around the seats such as a bottle holder, an electrical socket and lots of storage space for passengers’ belongings also help to ensure a relaxed journey.
 
With a baggage allowance of two items weighing up to 23 kilogrammes each, passengers can take twice as much free luggage with them compared with Economy Class. For an extra EUR 25, passengers can also enjoy the comfort of the Lufthansa Business Lounges before their departure. The Welcome Lounge, with its spacious showers and a breakfast buffet after night flights, can be used for EUR 50. 
An enhanced service awaits Premium Economy passengers on board: They are greeted with a welcome drink and will find their own water bottle as well as a high-quality amenity kit with practical travel accessories at their seat. Meals are presented on menus commensurate with the new travel class and served on porcelain tableware. 
 
Passengers can navigate the extensive in-flight entertainment programme using their own touchscreen monitor on the seat in front of them. The screens are 11 or 12 inches, depending on the aircraft type, which makes them at least two inches bigger than the screens in Economy Class. 
 
Lufthansa Premium Economy Class is located within the cabin as a clearly identifiable separate compartment between Business and Economy Class. It has a high-quality design and contains between 21 and 52 seats, depending on the aircraft type. Installation of the new travel class, which is to be carried out on a gradual basis, sub-fleet by sub-fleet, will start this autumn and finish in summer 2015. 
 
More information is available at www.lufthansagroup.com/de/themen/premium-economy



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