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What I found inside Hilton’s ‘Innovation Gallery’ in Washington

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Just outside Washington DC, just off the lobby in the Hilton McLean Tysons Corners hotel – directly next to the Hilton global HQ – is the Hilton Innovation Gallery.

Opened late last year, it is a 4300 sq ft space where Hilton highlights its new ideas.  These are not necessarily things which are destined to make it into hotels in the future, but it showcases new ideas and new ways of thinking.  It also highlights new projects currently underway in the group.

I had a tour of the space last week.  Here are a few things from the Hilton Innovation Gallery which I personally found interesting.  The first two are already happening, whilst the bottom three are just concepts at the moment which may never be used.

Amazon Lockers

These are already in place at 100 Hilton properties in the US, allowing guests to receive packages.  The real value is for resort properties.  Why travel with nappies, baby milk, sun cream etc when you can order it via Amazon Prime and have it waiting for you at your arrival?

Five Feet To Fitness

This is a ‘hotel gym in a room’ concept which is currently being trialled.  Your bedroom is, basically, a gym with specially designed equipment which won’t disturb your neighbours.  The idea is that a hotel will have a couple of these rooms as part of their overall inventory.

Natural Walls

The picture below isn’t very obvious.  It is a hotel bedroom with the wall made of Swedish moss.  It does not require watering, drawing moisture from the air.  It improves air quality in the room.

The Chest Which Becomes A Table

We were quite impressed by this one.  I should have taken a ‘before’ picture too.  The seat area of the table below pushes back into the cabinet.  Similar, the table top splits into two and swings back against the wall, creating a 2nd top and side for the cabinet unit.  Voila – you have a dining table for two or four which takes up virtually no extra space than the cupboard unit.


Hotel TV sets may now be thin, but do you need them at all?  This hotel bedlight doubles up as a wi-fi projector.  It can project a TV picture onto the wall opposite, or content from your mobile device.

There is a lot more going on which I didn’t photograph, including in-room cocktail makers.  Some of it is more simple, such as wireless charging units for smartphones built into desktops or table tops.

It isn’t all ‘tech’, reflecting the fact that simple innovations like the Amazon lockers can also make a difference.  Hilton has also installed a virtual reality simulator which gives potential franchisees or developers views of typical rooms.

You can’t, unfortunately, just walk in to the Innovation Gallery if you are in McLean on business.  If you book into the hotel, however, you might find some of the ideas being tested out in your room, and if you speak to the staff they may let you take a peek.

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Comments (62)

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  • Rob H says:

    Amazon, possibly the worst treatment of suppliers in all of retail. Make Tesco look like heroes.

    • Mikea says:

      Maybe so, but as a customer I like them.
      Being able to mail order into a locker the week before arrival even for an overnight stay would be a major bonus for me if I want something from the US site that isn’t available / is more expensive on the UK site.

      • James Gibson says:

        You don’t need a locker for that. Just have it sent to the hotel where you’ll be staying. I do this quite regularly when travelling to the US. Never had a problem.

        • callum says:

          There are many things in life you don’t need but are actually quite useful!

          I’d much rather use a locker than have to pre-check with the hotel that they’d be willing to hold the item and that they aren’t going to charge for doing so. Plus I can then pick it up whenever I want without having to join a queue for the desk.

        • the_real_a says:

          My experience has been the opposite! Ive been refused on a number of occasions in the US when i asked if they would accept a package. These lockers are a great idea IMO.

        • Jenni says:

          These lockers also finally make it easy / possible to return items to Amazon whilst in the US.

    • Andrew says:

      There are a few brutal retailers out there, bricks and mortar isn’t all jolly best mates.

      One in particular, was well known to slash invoice settlement values if they caught a supplier using a factor.. Their view was that their their credit worthiness was as good as any financier and if the supplier can afford to lose 3% to a finance house, they can cut their prices by 3% to them and still wait 90 days for payment. The same retailer also went through a phase of cutting out the middlemen, and tracking down the OEMs – putting a few suppliers out of business.

      • Lady Londonh says:

        That sounds like Tesco.

      • Alex W says:

        I don’t see what’s wrong with cutting out middle men if they are not adding any value to the product.

        • Rob says:

          A lot of retailers unilaterally cut payments to suppliers. They announce one day that all outstanding invoices will be cut by 3%-5% because they want to some money to fund some random project. Imagine if your company announced it was cutting all salaries by 5% next month to pay for a new carpet in the lobby.

          Oddly the travel sector is a lot better for paying. The only time we have ever had to wait 3-4 months to get an invoice paid was from Chivas Regal for the advertising they booked last year, and we expected that to happen. It is not unusual for our bills to be paid within a week.

  • TripRep says:

    I’d use the lockers, I’ve ordered items online from the US Amazon and had them delivered in advance to a familiar Hilton for my arrival, handy for Black Friday deals and for products you can’t buy in the UK.

  • Adey says:

    Not sure go the need for Amazon lockers. It’s good for Amazon – more physical locations for the lockers (I’ve used them when in the US and they are great).

    I also ship plenty of stuff to hotels in advance (mainly online purchases). Collect during my stay. Admittedly there are small charges on occasion but mostly free.

    • callum says:

      I’m sure the reception would much appreciate the Amazon lockers if it means the presumably ever-rising volume of packages gets easier for them to handle!

      • Alan says:

        Agree, have shipped stuff to hotels before but can be a hassle, esp if they don’t have a good process for dealing with guest parcels – would happily use lockers.

  • Susan says:

    One Hilton innovation I don’t like (at least it’s the first time I’ve come across it) – at Hilton Queenstown (NZ) the free continental breakfast is enforced by putting a “HHGold Breakfast” plastic marker (a bit like a casino chip) on the table so staff can instantly check if illicit items have been taken. Made me feel as if I were not to be trusted. Wish they’d put as much effort into ensuring they made tea with fresh water rather than coffee machine dregs.

    • callum says:

      Human beings as a species categorically can’t be trusted – hence the existence of millions upon millions of security personnel and trillions spent on running it. You really shouldn’t take it personally – Hilton don’t know who you are!

    • the_real_a says:

      I hope you sent an email to the manager afterwards with your thoughts…

    • John says:

      When did you stay? Flyertalk reports that since 2016 you get the full breakfast

      • Susan says:

        A couple of days ago. Continental is the correct benefit for HH-G but Queenstown is the only time I’ve ever had it specified so firmly- at check-in, at the breakfast greeting (it was marked on the breakfast room list) and then with the table marker. Didn’t get the free water (promised but never delivered) or an upgrade (a suspiciously empty full hotel) It was a late booking so I was willing to cut some slack but overall a lovely hotel let down by poor management. OH summed it up as “that was one of the nicest Hilton rooms we’ve stayed in and I never want to go back.”

        • Andy says:

          Please put all of this on TripAdvisor too and message the hotel manager with your concerns. They seem to actively discourage guests!

  • Barrycutters says:

    Totally off topic but wanted to make the point . Been in Russia now since Friday morning and can’t believe this place, totally different from what you see in the media, and what you would expect, both Moscow and nizghy novgarod have both been absolutely fantastic, as someone who has been to over 60 countries Russia really wasn’t on my to do list – how wrong I was. The food , the people, the beer , the vodka , the perfectly organised tournament , the free sleeper trains to other cities – all make somewhere I want to come back to . (used 2x 241 vouchers and RFS to come out in club) and sat next to frank lampard on the plane .

    • Mohammed Khan says:

      Good on you mate! Enjoy!

      How was frank lampard? He seems like a great guy

    • callum says:

      I’ve seen several people say this but I’ve never seen Russian hospitality questioned by the media? Or are you blindly assuming dodgy country = bad citizens?

      Though you are surely also aware that things like a perfectly organised tournament and free sleeper trains have nothing to do with how Russia is normally? It’s quite obviously a big PR exercise.

      • Barry cutters says:

        Sorry maybe you misunderstood what I’m saying , or perhaps you just want to turn my comment in to something else . All the negative media was around the tournament itself – which in my opinion is running perfectly.

        . As someone who has lived in 3 different countries and traveled to more than most ,I’m not stupid enough to ‘blindly assume’ anything about people based on a stereotype. Generally when Iv told people in the uk we were going for this tournament they said ‘really -russia’ and also demand for tickets also Points to people not wanting to go. If the games were in Spain or Miami I’m sure would be different.

        A pr exercise for the government maybe – but for the people it’s not about that. Made many friends since we have been here and drank side by side in bars with Mexicans, Germans, Swedish, Tunisians, Americans , and plenty of Russians

        I guess what I’m saying is Moscow is worth a visit. With or without football the food, drinks, weather and people are great.

        • Genghis says:

          +1 for the food. You can get some really good fine dining for what seems like peanuts.

        • Anna says:

          I’d love to visit Moscow but my OH is the kind who pulls a face at the slightest perceived “dodginess”, so it’s off the table for now, along with Cairo and a few other destinations on my wish list! ( I’ll just find someone else to go with once the rugrat is older!)

        • Anna says:

          …or actually just take the rugrat. And watch the OH’s face when I tell him we’re going in F on a 2 4 1????

    • BS says:

      I agree. I also have been impressed by Russia, and feel the media have been portraying their view of the Russian government rather than that of the Russian people.

      I did not use a 241 though- I discovered adding a LHR-DME-GOJ sectors on the end when flying back from South Africa was cheaper than just flying to only LHR. So basically a free World Cup trip, and the extra TPs will get me silver.

    • Alex Sm says:

      I’m normally against OT but being from Russia originally (though living in the UK for the last 15 years) I’m pleased to hear that. I have always been very sceptical of stereotypes about any country. And to the point made further below – it’s not just about the WC. I brought a British-Chinese colleague to St Petersburg in May, she was so impressed that she is now coming back in August, now to see Moscow

    • the_real_a says:

      I love Russia! St Pertersburg and Moscow are up there with the best cities in the world. Education is very good indeed, and the sense of humor is typically very dry (you can translate a British joke and typically get the same reaction in Russia). The issue was always communication, but in the last few years many more young people speak very good English, so its becoming very easy to travel around. Food was surprisingly good.

    • John says:

      I’m sure Russia is a nice country (perhaps not so nice in winter) and I do want to go some day but you may change your tune a little when you need to pay for a visa and they aren’t trying to impress the world, much like China and the Olympics

      • Alex Sm says:

        Russians also have to pay for their visas to travel to Europe, the UK, the US and many other places like China. And it’s still more burdensome financially for an average Russian than for an average Brit/European. Due to diplomatic stubbornness on both sides there is little progress on this unfortunately…

        But let’s not hijack this thread with further debate about Russia! It’s was about Hilton innovations – you can think of a topics farther away from each other than these two!

    • the real harry1 says:

      Try to keep out of the casinos, Bazza! 🙂

      Enjoy the footy, mate

    • TripRep says:

      Awesome stuff BC, glad you’re loving the place, had seen fans interviewed on TV saying how well they had been received by locals.

      Travel can definitely broaden the mind, especially so given our Anti-Russia MSM.

  • @mkcol says:

    Premier Inn LHR T4 has Amazon Lockers FWIW

  • shd says:

    I’ve been ordering stuff to be delivered to hotels for ages, I pick up at the front desk. Works with any sender, not just Amazon.

    What’s the point of a locker which only accepts items from one sender?

    • johnny_c-l says:

      Presumably it’s easier for the staff, plus will be used by other people who are in the area, not just guests. In turn they may well get some more lunch/coffee meetings scheduled in their restaurant which would help with revenue and keep the Hilton brand top of mind.

      • shd says:

        Don’t see much real benefit for the property apart from the rent that you’d hope Amazon are paying for the space occupied by the lockers!

    • Rob says:

      A lot of people, including me, have little trust in that system and would never do it (and we never have). I would happily send stuff to an Amazon locker.

      • shd says:

        Why “little trust”, if you’ve never tried?

        I’ve had dozens and dozens of packages delivered to hotels in Europe and the US over the years, including high value items. Never had a single issue. Even had an item delivered late (after I’d checked out) and that particular [Hilton!] hotel noticed it had missed me, returned it to sender, and I was refunded automatically.

        • Alan says:

          I’ve had a few shipped to hotels when in the US. One took a day to locate the package, I also see some have started charging fees to receive parcels for guests.

      • David says:

        +1 here Rob – I’m not going to sleep well knowing that a high value item I’ve paid for has been signed for by a hotel receptionist and would be sitting in their back office for a few days until I arrive.

    • sunguy says:

      Why cant we have a bit of both…..the hotel gets less packages to store in their back rooms but guests can still have items sent to them?

      (I even remember getting a valentines card and chocs sent to a hotel I was at in the US whilst with work – and my wife being in the UK)…..

      No idea why people pick issue with the idea of Amazon having a collection point – seems helpful for those that want to use it – and if you dont, still have the traditional way….

      • shd says:

        Far more efficient to store ALL senders’ packages in the back room (together), than have EACH sender reserve space for sender-specific lockers in a public space.

        Great for Amazon, hope Hilton are earning the $$$ to cover it.

  • Lady Londonh says:

    If anyone can get rid of TV’s in the room that show a red light all night I’d be grateful. I keep trying to remember to bring black tape to stick over them but always forget.

    • Peter K says:

      I use one of the many little cards in the room (e.g. “We want every stay to be 10/10” gumph) to put in front of it.

    • Alex Sm says:

      What’s the point of having a TV in a hotel room in the first place? It’s a very questionable essential for any type of a journey – be it for business or pleasure

    • HAM76 says:

      I‘ve a roll of black tape that always stays in my suitcase. Many TV‘s now have a blue and a red light plus there is half a dozen other light sources in the room, sometimes. Even the mini bar fridges are illuminated with a glass door in some places.

      As TVs are now often wall mounted, I used to build towers using the info material in the room to put something in front of the lights. Hardly satisfying, though.

      • Alex Sm says:

        you might need to speak to a specialist to check the overall state of your nervous system. Something tells that it’s not about the light at all…

    • Wally1976 says:

      I’ve always found I can locate the socket and so turn the telly off at the wall. Haven’t travelled that much though (well I have but most of my travelling was in my younger days staying in hostel dorms).

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