R&B music artist R. Kelly is not a prophet but as early as 2003, he had been telling us that he would need just his smartphone to replace his hotel room keys. Now, that is happening for real. Starwood Hotels & Resorts is making it possible.
The hotel brand has just announced plans to roll out a technology that would enable guests to bypass the typical front desks in hotels so that they could instantly enter their rooms using just their smartphones. This would mean that guests would have to soon bid goodbye to those cards that serve as hotel room keys.
Starwood claims that the adoption of the technology could be considered as a milestone for the industry. In a statement, it said that for many years now, the hotel industry has just been dreaming of a new concept called mobile check-in. The company is just very excited to announce that Starwood is converting into truly mobile and keyless system for checking in.
If this plan pushes trough, it may mean that most of the guests would be spared from long lines. They would not have to bother to stop by the front desk or get into kiosks just to ask and get their hotel keys.
Initial roll out
The technology would be piloted early this year at Starwoods Aloft hotels located in Cupertino, California. It would also be launched in the Aloft hotels in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City. The hotel operator plans to roll out the keyless system to more Aloft as well as to W Hotels by the end of this year.
Members of the Starwood Preferred Guest list would be able to sign up for more information about this new system as soon as it becomes available. Guests at participating locations will receive a message through their smartphone containing the virtual key. It would then unlock the assigned hotel door using the wireless Bluetooth technology.
Thus, the new feature would require newer models of smartphones to be useful. Initially, the list of devices include iPhone 4S and newer iPhone models. For the Android devices, the handsets should run on at least the 4.3 Jelly Bean version.
Starwood assured that this would only be the latest in its series of innovations that are stemming from its multi-layered investment in mobile and digital technology. It will target digitally savvy guests and facilitate personalized online and offline experiences.