How Technology Can Turn Your Phone Into A Personal Hotel Key

For decades, hotel guests picked up metal keys at the front desk and used them to gain access to their hotel rooms. Next came a card that, when swiped, caused a hotel door to unlock. Now, technology is moving hoteliers toward a mobile keyless entry system that allows us to check-in while we’re still traveling by using a smartphone app and Bluetooth technology.

For hotels and resorts on the front end of this technology, this is an investment in enhancing the guest experience. Industry-wide, early adopters are upping the ante on how travelers perceive a hotel brand. By making check-in more convenient by reducing long lines and eliminating the often-tedious check-in process, both guests and hotels are expected to benefit.

In early 2014, Starwood Hotels and Resorts launched a pilot program in New York and California using iPhone and Android virtual keys as part of their preferred guest programs. In 2015, the company is hoping to implement it at its other hotels.

Others in the hospitality industry are watching this closely and eventual adaptation is anticipated. That raises questions about how hospitality managers will focus the personalized service that builds customer loyalty to a brand.

Will guests embrace the opportunity to have their reception at a hotel “personalized” through technology?

Self check-in kiosks at hotels were once seen as the beginning of the end for the check-in desk and the personnel who staff it. If keyless check-in provides yet another reason to rethink the hotel front desk experience, how will a hotel redeploy its personnel to ensure that guests who enjoy interaction with staff are not alienated?