Starwood plans to make hotel check-in desks a thing of the past

Starwood hopes that the new check-in system will alleviate the stress associated with the traditional front desk check-in (Photo: Starwood)

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc has begun the process of implementing an innovative smartphone-based system that will allow customers to check-in and access their hotel room via an easy-to-use mobile application. It is hoped that the convenience of the SPG Keyless system will eventually do away with the hassle and tedium inextricably associated with the traditional hotel check-in desk.

The SPG Keyless system is due to go live on Nov. 5 in a handful of hotels including locations in Hong Kong and downtown New York. This initial launch is just the tip of the iceberg, with the hotel and resort giant planning an aggressive roll-out strategy that will see the system integrated into 150 hotels, totaling 30,000 doors.

"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," states President & Chief Executive Officer of Starwood, Frits van Paasschen. "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."

SPG Keyless is not the first check-in innovation to be piloted in Starwood hotels. Previously the company had implemented a kiosk-based system that allowed guests to check themselves in with the swipe of a credit card. However, the proposed SPG Keyless system reaches far beyond a self check-in terminal.

Starwood selected Assa Abloy to design the Bluetooth-enabled locking device as well as the software and security protocols that allow the hotel door to safely interact with the user's smartphone app. Following a one-off registration via the SPG app, a client need only make a reservation at an SPG Keyless-enabled hotel and when prompted, opt-in to use the system for the duration of the stay.

Upon arriving at the hotel, the app will push a notification to the guest notifying them that they have been checked in and once the room is ready, update the app with a room number and Bluetooth key. This allows guests to completely bypass the front desk, opening the hotel door by simply touching their phone to the lock. Currently, the service is only available to clients with Starwood Preferred Guest status. App compatibility is limited to smartphones running iOS 8 on an iPhone 4S or later and Android 4.3 and above.

It is hoped that this approach to hotel check-ins will greatly reduce the stress of arriving at a hotel. As the golden age of the smartphone continues apace, we are sure to see evermore life-hacks integrated into our electronic companions.

You can view the promotional video for the SPG Keyless system below.

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