Now you can skip the front desk and go straight to your hotel room with a virtual key. Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen tells Christine Romans why this new technology is easier and safer than traditional keys.
Starwood Hotels kicked off the smartphone-as-a-room-key trend last year by announcing that select W, Element, and Aloft Hotels would be testing the technology via the Starwood Preferred Guest mobile app, available on the App Store and Google Play. SPG members are first required to register their device through the app. On the day of their stay, guests will receive an update on when the hotel room will be available along with a room number. Once the room is ready, guests can skip the front desk, head directly to the room and open the door with the phone via a Bluetooth connection. (The app has since been updated to also work with Apple Watch.)
This summer, Hilton Hotels introduced their own Digital Key program which they are testing in 10 Hilton Hotels. Much like SPG's Keyless Entry, Hilton's Digital Key works only through their loyalty program app, HHonors, available on the App Store, Google Play, and the Windows Store. But unlike Starwood, Hilton allows guests to select the room they want via the app's mobile check-in function, which offers a digital floor plan for guidance.
Using a smartphone key also eliminates the dreaded demagnetization of the plastic key card, which typically happens when its magnetic strip gets too close to your phone.