A Hilton Honors App Feature Concept

Roles  //  Product Design, Hospitality Design
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Timeline: September 2017 - 36 Hours Hackathon // Team: Cathy Liu, Nina Lin, Nicholas Fan, Emily Chen, Kristin Chen


Hilton Hospitality Hackathon intersected hospitality innovation and technological expertise. The challenge was to build a B2B or B2C hospitality soution that provide a frictionless and personalized experience. This prompt us to tailor travel directly at the customer’s preferences: innovations that deliver personalization are priceless.

As the only designer on the team, I had the opportunity to execute all of the product thinking, product design, and interaction design of the design sprint.


Meet Pam Lee.

Pam is a student from Qingdao, China. She’s never been to Vancouver, Canada but has always been interested in North American culture and has heard that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities. When she visits, she wants to learn to live like a Vancouverite and do what Vancouver people do everyday; she wants to be fully immersed in Vancouver culture. Pam searched on Google and booked a Hilton hotel in Downtown Vancouver, the heart of Vancouver’s localities.

However, when Pam got to her hotel in Vancouver, she felt like a true outsider.

Not only does Pam face this situation, many travelers to brand new places experience the exact same situation. They want to be fully immersed in the local culture and live like a local, but cannot do that because:

1) They find it awkward to go up to local strangers.
2) Information on the internet usually has mixed reviews.


Nina, Emily, and I brainstormed together to try to figure out what matters during a hotel experience and what features to implement. After that, we made a graph including the ideas to identify valuable ones

We decided to focus on combining the above features to fully maximize the hotel experience and allow guests to “live like a local". We also decided to narrow our target audience to be Hilton Honors Members.

Solution Spaces

After determining the ideas to explore, I hand-sketched them to visualize the concepts and conducted quick user interviews to find out whether these potential solutions solve the problems and which idea is worth pursuing most.

Idea 1: Calendar Sync

The goal of the calendar sync is for Hilton Honors app users to sync their Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook Calendar to the app. The HH app will filter out events according to the users' schedules.

- Guests can get access to all the events and highlights around the neighborhood that fit their schedules.
- Guests can click on specific events for pictures and details.

Idea 2: Hotel Tablet

The core idea of the hotel tablet is to display local information in every Hilton hotel room so that all guests have easy access to local highlights and recommendations.

- Guests can pick which type of local business they are interested in. A list of top recommended places will show up, sorted by price and distance.
- Clicking on a specific location will bring guests to a page with images, descriptions, map feature, and deals feature.

Idea 3: Hilton Honors Highlights + Recommendations

The target audience of this feature is Hilton Honors members: HH members want a unique community to connect with and a unique local experience. The goal of the Hilton Honors Highlights + Recommendations feature is to create a community between loyal and frequent HH travelers on the HH App.

- Guests can find past and current experiences by other HH members.
- Guests cpersonalize their visit and share their experiences with others.

Key Findings

I tested the three ideas on 6 different users. Here are some of my key findings:


Idea 1: Calendar Sync

- Default shows all events that fit guests' schedules
- Guests can also chose to show ones that do not fit their schedules

I then referenced already existing features on the Hilton Honors App.

I created screens that allow the syncing of guests' calendars, allowing guests to chose to sync their Google Calendar schedules or Microsoft Outlook schedules.

After I iterated the screens, our group decided that this feature was not strong enough to stand on its own. Although this feature does provide a personalized experience, we decided to focus on our stronger ideas.

Idea 2 + 3: Hilton Honors App Highlights + Recommendations

We realized that idea 2 and 3 were very similar, focusing on the same concept but carried out in different manners. We decided to combine the two ideas into a feature addition to the already existing Hilton Honors app.

Benefits for Hilton Honors Members:
- Unique travel experience
- Community within Hilton
- Earn honors points
- Experience local locations recommended by other Hilton Honor members

Entry Point:
After experimenting with different entry points, we decided to add a gold "H" to the app's bottom status bar as a leading point into our feature. After clicking the gold "H", a welcome page will pop up. With location services, the app will register exactly which Hilton branch hotel the user is in, and begin to cater the local highlights and recommendations to the specific hotel neighborhood. We wanted users to be fully immersed into our feature, so we transformed the bottom status bar, illustrating five tabs: dining, shopping, highlights, entertainment, and attractions.

I then designed example mocks for dining main page and highlights main page. I wanted to do some user testing before diving in into the specific restaurant, highlights, etc pages. Some feedback I received were:
- There should be a better transition between the welcome page and a specific tab page (i.e., Dining page)
- App should gauge user interests before showing them all options

After testing the two screens with potential users, I designed a screen for a specific dining restaurant.

I realized that this specific dining restaurant screen can only show one guest's comment. What if multiple guests comment/recommend the same restaurant? I realized I needed to add a transition screen between the main dining page and the specific restaurant page, allowing users to scroll through all comments and open up ones they prefer.

Information Flow

As shown in the diagram above, the ultimate goal for the feature is to:

1) View/interact with recommendations.
2) Add recommendations.

Final Design Iteration

Dining Experience --> View Reviews Flow

Dining Experience --> Add Reviews Flow

Local Experience Flow

What Can Go Wrong?

After developing the flow, I began to think about the edge cases, and what could possibly go wrong. I realized that if there is no incentives for Hilton Honors users to use the feature, the feature will be hidden and therefore left unused.

After discussing our concern with Hilton Hotel specialists, we decided to implement a "deals" feature that allows local businesses to offer exlusive luxury experiences money can't buy to Hilton Honors members with a certain amount of points or level. For instance, a restaurant can offer "chef's table" experience to a gold star member, an experience that cannot be purchased. This feature allows both Hilton Honors members to have the incentive to use the app, and local places to promote their businesses.

What's In It For Hilton?

We then asked ourselves: What's in it for Hilton? Why would Hilton want such a feature?

- Increase customer retention
- Unique loyality program experience
- Relations with local areas

Final Reflections

This hackathon design sprint is one of my favorite projects of all time because it is the first hackathon I've ever done. Because I was the only designer on the team, I was able to execute UX research, product thinking, visual design, and interaction design all in 36 hours. Inspired by my love for hospitality and technology, I enjoyed combining my interests in traveling to design a personalized and frictionless experience for Hilton.

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