Two major hotel brands announced plans Monday to roll out mobile-enabled room keys to select brands in their portfolios, beginning in late 2014 and early 2015. Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels and Resorts both announced plans for members of their loyalty programs to check in and get room keys on a mobile device, which will allow access to their room using Bluetooth technology. Both brands have integrated the keyless room system with their existing apps. The apps promise to eliminate the frustration of waiting in checkin lines for an employee to perform a routine task, trading it for an experience a guest can customize for themselves prior to arriving at the property.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts is rolling out the program, called SPG Keyless, to the Aloft, Element, and W Hotels brands across the globe. Ten hotels in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Cancun, Singapore, Cupertino, and Doha will go live on November 5, 2014, and Starwood has planned for every worldwide property at the three brands to launch SPG Keyless in 2015. Guests checking in at an eligible property must be SPG members, have the SPG app on iPad®, iPhone®, or Android™, have registered for SPG Keyless, accept push notifications, and have Bluetooth turned on.
“Not only does SPG Keyless alleviate a perennial pain point for travelers, but it also transforms the first interaction with our guests from one that is transactional to something more personal,” said Frits van Paasschen, Starwood’s President & Chief Executive Officer. “This is just the beginning, because through mobile we have the opportunity to marry high tech and high touch to transform the hotel experience in many exciting ways.”
Guests must also have booked reservations for one room via a Starwood booking channel such as the website, app, or call center. In many properties, guests can then bypass the front desk and go directly to their rooms, although some variation in rate types and local laws can require that guests stop at the front desk to complete checkin; these guests will receive notification of the requirement via the app. Once checkin is complete, guests hold their smart phone up to a sensor on the door of their room and wait for a green light to enter.
Hilton Worldwide also announced plans for a mobile-enabled room key, beginning in the late spring of 2015. Hilton had already launched digital checkin in July 2014, which will be available worldwide by the end of the year. That technology enables guests to select their rooms from a digital map and request that specific items be available in the room upon arrival. In support of the existing digital checkin product, mobile room keys are slated for rollout at U.S. properties in 2015. Pilot testing will begin at 10 properties in early 2015, spreading to all Conrad Hotels & Resorts properties in the US soon after. Rollout will continue across the Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, and the new Canopy by Hiltonbrand beginning in summer 2015. Guests wishing to use the mobile room key must be HHonors members and checkin using the app.
“Our mobile room key technology gives our guests greater choice and control over their entire experience,” said Geraldine Calpin, global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide. “Never before has a hotel guest been able to check-in, select their room from a digital floor plan, request items to be ready upon arrival, and then access their room via their smartphone and find it exactly the way they requested it. We’re truly revolutionizing travel by making the stay experience more convenient.”
Hilton plans to expand the mobile roomkey program to 11 brands globally in 2016.