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Holiday Inn Hotels Testing Smartphone Room Keys

by Sean P. Aune | May 30, 2010

The InterContinental Hotels Group is preparing to test a new system that will allow you to forgo getting a key for your room, and just use your smartphone to open the door.

One of the largest hotel chains in the world, the InterContinental Hotels Group consists of the chains InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites.  According to a report from USA Today, the company is beginning to roll out a test that will see people using an application on their smartphones that will open their doors for them.

holiday inn houstonThe system involves you downloading an app for your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone handset from a company called Open Ways.  Once you have the free app installed, you receive a confirmation e-mail of your reservation, connect it with the app and then hold the phone up to your door for it to be scanned.

Over the next 60 – 90 days the system will be tested at the Holiday Inn Chicago O’ Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center.  Guests will be given the option if they want a room with a traditional swipe key or if they would prefer to try the new system.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.– which owns brands such as Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels and more — is going another route of testing  system by a company named IHG.  This system involves key card that have RFID chips embedded in them which will allow you to just be near your door to unlock it.  Hopefully there is a way to disable it once you’re in the room because if you’re inside and walk too close to the door, you could unlock it without realizing it.

Of the two systems I like the idea of the RFID a lot more because, while swipe cards can be annoying, you can get away with using just one hand, but with the Open Ways app ssytem you might get away with one hand, but most times it takes two to hold your phone and open up an app.  The RFID would keep all of your hands free, but is using a key to get into your room really that big of a hassle?  My parents are extensive travelers and have racked up enough Marriott points to rank in the top two percent of that chain’s loyalty program.  Neither of them thrilled to either of these ideas, but both side if they had to choose one, they’d go with the RFID option.

The Open Ways solution strikes me as a cost cutting measure as it will save check-in time and the expense of swipe cards, but it just sounds like too much of a hassle to me to really be a benefit to consumers.

What say you?  Are you ready for whole new ways to get into your hotel room?


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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...