Remember when hotels gave guests an actual brass room key? We barely do either… It seems that the key card door lock system has been a staple in the hotel industry for the past two to three decades. Therefore, naturally, the industry is ramping up for another change. With technology moving at the pace it is, it’s only natural that something more hi-tech would come along at some point, just to make our lives easier.
USA Today reported on June 29th, “Starwood Hotels and Resorts is testing out virtual keys on iPhones and Androids at the Aloft Harlem in New York and Aloft Cupertino in California.” The article goes on to note, “the company plans to roll it [virtual keys] out to other hotel brands next year.” Other brands like Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels Group have not said anything about using the smartphones as room keys, however have already begun testing their mobile check-in option, which allows the guest to completely bypass the front desk.
Despite these advances in technology, critics still have their reservations for the new “smartphone key”. For example, what happens if a guest’s phone dies while away from the room? Or what if the guest forgets to bring his/her phone when simply running down to the lobby for something, or when going to work out? Carrying a cell phone while exercising is not always practical for everyone. Further, changing out the locks in every single hotel is a costly endeavor, and will sometimes require hotels to replace the entire guest room door.
While these issues have been a high priority for Starwood, an article in the June 21st issue of Hotel Business indicates that the company is confident that these concerns will be addressed prior to a full roll-out of the product.