Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is beginning to roll out a keyless entry system for its guests that uses an app on their smartphones (and/or smartwatch) to access their rooms and, in some cases, allowing them to bypass the front desk.
Currently available in more than 100 hotels under the Starwood brand, including Aloft, Element, and W Hotels, the keyless entry requires guests to download the Starwood Preferred Guests app for their smartphone or smartwatch. A couple of days prior to their scheduled stay, the guests receive an alert asking them to give an estimated arrival time as well as options for room access. While the traditional key card remains an option, the ability to use a phone and/or watch is also available. Choosing this will allow guests in the US to not visit the front desk at all, though in the UK guests will still need to provide credit card and passport information to the concierge.
Once the key card feature is activated, the phone and watch function as keys, allowing guests into their rooms, the elevators, and even into the hotel itself after hours.
There are drawbacks: while the phone and the watch work fairly seamlessly, accessing the “unlock your door” option on either takes longer than simply using a traditional keycard. Moreover, the phone or watch must be on, meaning guests who run out of battery life with no charger nearby may be out of luck. Finally, the system is limited to either the key card or the smart device; guests can’t use all three to access their rooms.
Starwood is planning to expand the rollout of this feature to 150 more Aloft, Element, and W Hotels around the world. Along with allowing guests to use their personal devices as keycards, Starwood Hotels is upgrading their top-end hotels with other features and innovations – such as smart mirrors, RFID-enabled floor tiles, and hotel rooms with Internet of Things capabilities – over the course of the next several years.
According to Daniel Kerzner, the Vice President of Digital, Loyalty and Partnership marketing for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, these upgrades are about empowering guests to be able to have far more control over key elements of the room like lighting or heating.
“In five years we expect the room will customize around you,” explains Kerzner to Pocket-lint. “It will know that you are coming so sets up the room whether that means your lights, your heating, or something else.”
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