Traveling just got a little less horrible — for an elite few, at least.
This week, Starwood Hotels will roll out a new program that allows you to both check in to your hotel and also unlock the door to your hotel room by using an app on your smartphone — bypassing the long lines and unwelcome human interaction you usually encounter after a long day of traveling.
The program, which will launch at 10 hotels around the globe, is part of a two-year effort to modernize Starwood Hotels’ extensive chains of hotels.
Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital said “We were inspired by the mobile revolution overall. Today, people’s expectations almost completely rely on mobile. They order food through Seamless, arrange travel through Uber, and use their phones to wake up in the morning. We thought it was really time to bring this necessity to a new life.”
This being a hotel technology, there are of course limitations. To use the mobile check-in service, you must first and foremost be a Starwood “Preferred Guest,” which basically means you fill out a form with some of your basic information online.
You can then download the SPG app for iOS or Android and allow it to send push notifications. Then, after booking a reservation at any of the 10 keyless hotels — found in Beijing, Cancun, Cupertino, Harlem, Doha, Hollywood, Hong Kong, downtown New York, Singapore, and Times Square — you’ll receive a push notification inviting you to opt in to the keyless technology.
When your room is ready, you’ll be notified once again, this time that you’re all checked in. The app will also automatically tell you your room number and conjure a Bluetooth-enabled key.
So, when you actually arrive, you can stroll on by the huddled masses of guests in line to check in at the front desk and go straight to the floor your room is on. While you’re in the elevator, you’ll need to enable Bluetooth on your phone. (If your phone is dead, you can head down to the front desk and receive a keycard, like the rest of the Luddites.)
To open the door keylessly, you just need to open the SPG app, hold your phone next to the door lock (which is equipped with a black plastic square), and wait for a green light to illuminate. Then you enter the room and immediately eat seven things from the minibar while wearing your complimentary robe and slippers (optional, but highly recommended).
So, there you have it: The era of a hotel check-in with absolutely zero human interaction is upon us. Yes, the program is currently limited to those using Android and iOS, but it’s only a matter of time until — like everything else — an app like Starwood’s will become the industry standard.
Zachary T. Brown