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Your smartphone, the new hotel room key

Posting in Technology
Your smartphone is already your boarding passevent ticket, and television. Soon it will also be the key to your hotel room, at least at two hotels in the United States.

Starwood announced plans to rollout a pilot program that will allow members of its preferred guest program to access their hotels rooms at Aloft Hotel in New York City and Cupertino, California, later this quarter.  

As Starwood's CEO Frits van Paasschen tells Wall Street Journal: "We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel. It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel."

By the end of the year, the smartphone keys could be available at more than 100 Starwood properties. 

Starwood isn't the only hotel company to turn to the smartphone to improve the customer experience. Marriott has introduced mobile check-in services at a number of their hotels, with other companies also considering the idea.

According to a report from Accenture, the hotel industry can benefit from mobile technology in three ways:
  • Improving the guest experience.
  • Increasing revenue from ancillary services (room service, Wi-Fi, etc).
  • Lowering operating costs by using point-as-a-currency and mobile payment services.

Still, it's not clear how much of an advantage hotels that implement mobile technology will have over competitors or if it will be a substantial boost to the bottom line. But it seems to be worth the risk because, as van Paasschen tells WSJ: "investment would not be substantial."

Photo: Screenshot/SPG

— By on January 27, 2014, 2:06 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure