Innovation Finalist Interview with Geraldine Calpin, SVP and Global Head of Digital, Hilton Worldwide
1. In your opinion, what makes a company innovative?
Innovative companies are the ones that create new ideas or build new products with purpose. They are always anticipating consumers’ next want or need, delivering a product or service that surprises or delights consumers before they even knew they wanted it. To do this, they have to know consumers almost better than they know themselves to ensure any innovation is meaningful and resonates with the target audience. The experience must, at its core, be simple and useful so that consumer adoption is seamless. Because at the end of the day, it’s about changing consumer behavior and impacting how they interact with not just that company, but the world around them – now that’s innovative!
2. What makes your company innovative?
Hilton has a long history of innovation. In fact, we were the first hotel company to put televisions in guest rooms. Today, innovation looks different – it’s quicker, it’s often digital and it’s at scale. Hilton, with our 95-year legacy, continues to be innovative primarily because we are able to deliver meaningful, useful advancements to our guests anywhere in the world.
For example, we recently launched a new technology – digital check-in with room selection – that redefines the hotel experience and transforms how guests interact with our hotels in a way that’s simple, intuitive and purposeful. Guests can now check-in and choose their ideal room from the digital platform of their choice, putting the front desk in the hands of Hilton guests worldwide – we were the first hospitality company to provide our guests with this capability anywhere in the world!
This year, we’re taking the guests mobile journey a step further by implementing a feature that will allow guests to use their smartphones as their room keys, enabling guests to bypass the front desk completely. Our innovations empower guests to use their phone as a remote control to their entire travel journey and enrich their overall experience. And it doesn’t stop there – it never does. We’re always on a quest to deliver the best hospitality experience for our guests – it’s an enterprise-wide priority that is powered by the innovative spirit of our brand.
3. What or who are some innovative companies or people that inspire you and your team?
Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft that are introducing easy, convenient and on-demand payment options to customers are great example of innovation. Aside from meeting a clear consumer need, these companies also remove mundane tasks from a customer’s journey, like eliminating the need to dig a credit card out of your pocket, saving them time and effort.
More broadly, we look to leaders and innovators that share our desire to build and create experiences, especially those who constantly and persistently innovate, obsess over rapid change and never accept ‘good enough.’
4. What are some publications, print or digital, you read daily or have read that help you stay on top of your game? These could be books, magazine, blogs, e-newsletters, etc.
The Wall Street Journal, Skift, Hospitality Technology and Fast Company – just to name a few. I try to dabble in a variety of business, innovation and technology publications so that I can have well-rounded perspective of what’s new and brewing in the technology and innovation space while keeping an eye on industry news and trends. The digital landscape changes daily and we see a lot of opportunities here, so we constantly need to keep up with the players in the game.
5. What advice would you give to up-and-coming leaders striving to be innovative in today’s business environment?
Innovate with a purpose. Make sure what you’re putting out there for your customers is something they’ll actually use and be thankful for. In a crowded marketplace of ideas, it can be difficult to stand out, but if you’re deploying something that customers want, or a tool that will make their lives just a little bit easier, it will stand apart.
You can learn more about Hilton Worldwide’s digital innovations here: http://www.hiltonworldwide.com/