When it comes to the hotel industry, technology hasn’t exactly been a priority for most hotel brands. This is changing now as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide plans to offer virtual keys to customers through a mobile app, removing the need for a check-in desk.
Once you have reserved your booking with a Starwood hotel, you will simply receive a virtual key on the Starwood app. This means that when you finally go to the hotel, you wouldn’t need to stop at the check-in desk and pause for the keys to your room.
Rather, you can simply enter the facility and go straight to your room. Here, you will need to tap or twist your phone. With Bluetooth on, this gesture will unlock the door instantly. For a start, Starwood will be offering the feature at two of its locations, namely the Aloft hotels at Cupertino and in the Harlem neighborhood.
According to Starwood Hotels, the app it aims to offer will be compatible with iPhone 4S or later iPhone models as well as handsets running Android 4.3 and later. Starwood’s CEO is very hopeful about this unique integration of technology and said, “We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel. It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel.”
Other hotel groups have been dismissive of the idea, citing that customers want to be able to interact at a check-in desk and prefer to be greeted by someone or the other at entrance. This may be true but then, hotel industry has been fairly reluctant in embracing technology and that can also be the reason why many other hotel chains are unwilling to take the tech plunge.
Although Starwood is going to launch its virtual keys soon, the company is playing safe. It wouldn’t be removing the front desk at the two hotels where it will be offering the virtual keys. Rather, the check-in desk will simply be an option which customers can avail if they like. Otherwise, they can head directly to their rooms with their virtual keys.