Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is adding a “virtual room key” to its Starwood app in hopes that it can help make the checkin process less of a hassle.
Rather than waiting on a long line to get your key from the front desk at the hotel, users can check in and set their payment method on the app. The app then becomes your room key.
Starwood’s CEO Frits van Paasschen told The Wall Street Journal that he believes this new feature will “become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel.” He concedes that the idea might “be a novelty at first” but said he thinks “it will become table stakes for managing a hotel.”
The technology works using Bluetooth and will work with any iPhone 4S or higher, and Android phones running Android 4.3 or newer.The Bluetooth connection in the phone connects to a sensor on the door that activates the lock. The locks are battery-powered, meaning they will work even if a hotel’s computer system goes down.
This isn’t the first time using a smartphone as a room key has been discussed. As far back at 2010, Apple filed patents for using the iPhone in various travel and retail scenarios.
Starwood is going to pilot the program in its Aloft hotels in Cupertino, Calif., and Harlem, N.Y., hotels in 2014, but hopes to roll the feature out to all of its Aloft and W hotels by the end of 2015.
For those users that still want the more traditional check-in experience, that will remain an option (source).
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