Starwood hotels pilot program swaps physical keys for virtual keys

January 27, 2014
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Smartphones are being used for more and more these days. Aside from the obvious ability to make calls, send text messages, surf the web and use an almost countless number of apps, we are starting to see more using Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication). There is home automation using a smartphone, but in this case we are looking towards Starwood Hotels who are getting ready to turn your smartphone into your room key.

At the present time the program is still listed as coming soon. They are expected to have it up and running, albeit on a limited basis, by the end of the quarter. The limited basis means availability with two Starwood locations. These include the Aloft Hotel, which has a Manhattan and Silicon Valley location.

Furthermore, this will be available for Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members and they will be using the SPG mobile app. For Android users, the SPG App will be available for devices running Android 4.3 or later. There will also be iOS support for the iPhone 4S or later. Using your phone as your room key will mean holding the phone up and unlocking the door with a twist of the device. The connection is over Bluetooth.

Starwood's CEO Frits van Paasschen admits this "may be a novelty at first" however he also believes it will "become table stakes for managing a hotel." Further comments from Paasschen touched on how they feel this will "become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel." While everyone may not be as willing to check-in virtually, this should simplify the process for regular travelers that need a bit less hand holding.

Bottom line here, this means those staying at either of these hotels will be able to check-in virtually, using their smartphone. Then once at the hotel, they can bypass the front desk and proceed to their room and unlock it with their smartphone.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal


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