Doubletree by Hilton Dubai Business Bay is the first Hilton hotel in the region to use the brand’s cutting edge Digital Key technology. General manager Remco Werkhoven believes it is a game changer, Hotel News Middle East finds out more…
Having a key to your room has been part of the authentic hotel experience for as long as there have been hotels. That isn’t about to change anytime soon but what is going to change is the fact that, if you own a mobile phone, you are already holding the key to your next hotel room right now.
Doubletree by Hilton Dubai Business Bay is the first property in the region to be part of a scheme that will see guests having full access to the hotel’s amenities by using their phone to download the Digital Key via the Hilton Honors app – rather than the traditional means of a key or keycard.
By downloading the app, guests will also have the option to choose their own rooms.
Remco Werkhoven, general manager of the property, speaks to Hotel News Middle East about the Digital Key project that, he believes, will revolutionise the industry.
“Hilton has really invested in this programme that will allow you to first select your room before being able to go straight there without having to pick up a key from reception,” he says.
Werkhoven says the hotel is the first property in the Middle East to use the technology – after it had been introduced in the United States and Europe, predominantly in the UK.
The only difference is that, like every other hotel in the region, guests still have show their passport or IDs upon check-in. But after that, says Werkhoven, the hotel is very much their own.
“We went live in the first week of March and, so far, the feedback has been great. People really seem to like it and it gives us a little edge with guests,” he says.
“We like to do things a little differently in this hotel and this is a good talking point for us. It excites the guests and we like to keep things new.”
The need to be offering a cutting-edge service is very much at the forefront of Hilton’s philosophy, explains Werkhoven.
“Hilton always wants to improve the technology available to guests without making it too complicated,” he says.
“There is a fine line between improving the technology and improving customer satisfaction. You can have technology that makes it quite complicated and other technology that gets outdated very quickly.”
Once guests become used to the new technology Hilton will have something to offer guests, posits Werkhoven.
“There is much more to it than simply using it to open the door to your room via your phone,” he says.
“You can use it all around the hotel continuously. You don’t have to worry anymore about wondering where you left your key. It is just a great convenience.”
The inspiration for the Digital Key came from the airline industry, as Werkhoven explains.
“When airlines gave customers the opportunity to choose their own seats without a boarding pass, it changed everything,” he says.
“It was a unique selling point for the airline companies when it came out and it did not go unnoticed.”
Being the first hotel in the region to have the digital key is going to be a huge selling point for the property, but Werkhoven believes it is far from the only reason why the industry should be excited about Doubletree by Hilton Dubai Business Bay.
“When people talk about the extra supply of hotels in the run-up to Expo2020, what they do not always realise is that one third of the inventory is actually right here in Business Bay,” he says.
“We have a fantastic location here with the Downtown area, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall right here on our doorstep.”
He says the hotel appeals to corporate guests because of the proximity to DIFC and Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) but that guests looking for leisure options are equally catered for too.
“We actually had lengthy discussions about the name of the hotel, because if you add the word business to it then it sounds a bit corporate,” he says.
“But at the same time you have to be very clear about who you are and this is a hotel that is proudly situated in the heart of Dubai Business Bay.”
There is no doubt that being located in Bay Square has given Werkhoven’s hotel a range of options that many others could only dream about.
“Everybody knows the area so well,” he says.
“We have a Pizza Express here which has live entertainment every single night of the week, plus Petit Belge has just opened up with great food and Belgian beer – everybody is aware of it.”
There are 24 F&B options alone in Bay Square. Werkhoven says the choice of venues in the vicinity is so diverse that some guests stay at the property just for that reason.
“I would say come and check us out here at Business Bay and see what’s on offer as there are great things happening here,” he says.
“It has been voted as one of the top 10 neighbourhoods in the world to live by Lonely Planet – there is a very good reason why it was chosen.”