Major Hotel Brands Begin Digital Check-In And Room Key Access Via Cellphone

Following in the footsteps of the airline industry, hotels are starting to incorporate new ways to help streamline the check-in process for travelers simply by using their smartphone. From checking in via smartphone or using the device to unlock your door, hotels are starting to adapt these new digital programs with Starwood Hotels and Resorts leading the way.

On Monday, Starwood Hotels and Resorts became the first hotel chain that will allow guests to unlock doors with their smartphones. Currently limited to only 10 Aloft, Element, and W hotels, the feature, called SPG Keyless, will come to 140 additional locations sometime in the middle of 2015.

SPG Keyless is an app-based system that utilizes a phone’s Bluetooth which will make it possible to automatically check a customer in, provide the room number, and can allow a person to unlock the door without having to visit the front desk and receive a physical key. A user just needs to register their smartphone in advance and opt in to the system by a push notification. When done, a second alert will notify a person when they’ve been automatically checked in on their arrival date.

Starwood's SPG Keyless system will work with iOS devices starting with the iPhone 4s and upwards, as well as Android phones that run version 4.3 or later.

In the meantime, Hilton Worldwide is the only other hotel chain that has revealed its plans for mobile room keys. However, Hilton hasn’t provided many details except that it plans to roll out the feature at the end of 2015 for some of its U.S. properties.

Last year, Marriott International introduced a check-in feature through its app at 330 North American hotels with plans to make the program live at all 4,000 hotels worldwide by the end of this year. The check-in program will notify a guest on their phone whenever a room becomes available but doesn’t use a keyless system. At the hotel chain, traditional room keys will be pre-programmed and waiting at the front desk. Similar to airlines, there will be an express line that will allow customers to bypass crowds, flash their IDs, and get their key.

But while hotels are looking to make the check-in process easier for its customers, there is another reason why the businesses are going this route. By allowing consumers to use their apps to check-in, it also means that a hotel’s app is being used and, as such, gives the hotel additional opportunities to advertise and sell other hotel services such as spa treatments and room service.

According to Marriott senior vice president of the company’s digital side George Corbin, he revealed that the hotel chain had made $1.25 billion in bookings last year through its mobile app alone.

Are you looking forward to using your smartphone to check in and out of a hotel?