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Starwood Wants To Replace Hotel Keys With Your Smartphone

by Brandon Russell | February 2, 2014February 2, 2014 9:00 am PDT

Starwood hotel

The next time you check into your hotel room, you’ll be able to go through the entire process with nothing but your smartphone. New technology being implemented by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. plans to offer the more streamlined check-in process in early 2014 at the Aloft Hotels in Manhattan and Silicon Valley.

The goal is to allow guests to completely skip the check-in desk, and give them the ability to enter their room with nothing but a smartphone. No more waiting in line, showing the proper identification information and hassling with the front desk. The process would almost be similar to getting your movie ticket or boarding pass on your device.

Guests at the hotel that support the technology will need to download Starwood’s app, which will contain a virtual key; the key is capable of unlocking your room’s door through Bluetooth technology. The app is supported on the iPhone 4s and up and on Android handsets running Jelly Bean 4.3 and above. Smartphones are already the center of our universe, so why not expand their functionality even further be integrating them in new ways? Taking the component of having to keep track of a slim key-card is alluring, especially when the process is so simple.

Starwood CEO, Frits van Paasschen is confident the technology will become popular among guests. “We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel,” van Paasschen said. “It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel.”

Other competing hotels have introduced similar methods of checking in, so there’s competition out there for who has the most streamlined process. Marriott International Inc., for example, allows loyalty members to check-in through their phone, and then go to a separate kiosk to pick up their key. Other hotels have entertained a similar separate kiosk idea, but they all still rely on a physical key. Starwood’s method gives guests full access with just their smartphone.

As the year goes on, Starwood says the virtual key option will be rolled out to all of its Aloft and W Hotels—that’s 123 properties across the U.S. As smartphone ownership spreads, it’s becoming more accepted to perform traditional tasks through a smartphone, whether it be checking into a flight or skipping the movie line. Heck, we can order food, taxi services and goods by the click of a button. Will the next frontier be walking right past your hotel’s check-in desk? Starwood is betting it will.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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