Whether Hilton’s New App Feature is Creepy or Awesome Depends on How Big a Reward You Get

Hilton is doing some really cool things with their mobile app.

Now they’re rolling out real-time recommendations for activities and offering discounts based on your geolocation on property.

Personalized offers based on past behavior, combined with last minute excess inventory, is certainly seen as a real frontier of marketing.

In travel ThanksAgain is doing it at airports for users of their mobile app, offering discounts to stores nearby in the terminal, either for the kinds of things you’re likely to want or to try to expand your purchasing behavior beyond the narrow things you usually spend on in airports (maybe you buy parking and food but never retail, for instance, so a discount on clothes could be targeted).

Hilton calls their new feature ‘Fun Finder’ and it’s currently available only at “Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and Hilton Anatole, and will soon be expanding to other Hilton resorts.” My first reaction is, Hilton Anatole is a resort? but it makes sense to include this property.

To work you need:

  • Good offers
  • Frequent offers

A property with lots of features, and lots of guests, will have lots of things they can offer — and also periods where amenities are underutilized so it makes sense to offer real-time discounts for excess inventory.

They start with your arrival and departure information and collect information on preferences based on a pre-arrival survey. Then time and on-property location tell them whether to offer you things like a discount at the spa for an imminent treatment or a drink special at the bar.

To get the best deals in the supermarket you have to let them track your purchases and market to you based off of them. In a way, that’s the very idea of a frequent flyer program. But it’s being taken farther than ever, with miles for tracking your location throughout the day and taking surveys.

Marketing is getting more personalized. The best deals will require tailoring, which requires tracking. My own views on this – and overall comfort level – was significantly influenced by David Brin’s 1998 The Transparent Society. But not everyone will get so comfortable so quickly.

And tracking you and pushing you surveys is a step too far, as most readers pointed out largely because the rewards are so low. Whether or not we get over any hang ups depends for most people I suspect on just how good the offers are.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I happened to stay at the Hilton Anatole this weekend. It was always a huge property with lots of restaurants, etc. but this summer they opened a resort style water park with a small lazy river and two slides. I guess that makes it a resort now?

  2. I have tried the digital key three times and am not impressed. It’s too slow and takes too long to access the door. Also, so far, I still needed a regular key for lounge access. A regular key is better for now I think despite that the digital key let’s you bypass the counter

Comments are closed.