Monday, January 27, 2014

Lost Your Room Key? It's Ok, Just Use Your Smartphone!

Traveling of any kind can bring its own set of comforts and worries. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, we can all agree that our homes away from home carry their own stresses. More so for business traveling-- keeping up with all of your belongings can be an issue that you don't really anticipate. Your laptop is in check, you made sure to tip the waiter on your way out of the diner, but when you look for your room key, it's gone. Again, this is a common occurrence for anyone traveling, no matter what the reason may be. But once again, technology comes through for humanity. Don't have your room key on you? Don't worry. There's an app for that.

The new Starwood app for Starwood Hotels & Resorts is now offering an added new feature. Its added functionality of a "virtual room key" has given their customers the opportunity for less headaches when checking in and gaining access to their rooms. The app is set up to have a payment method and check in access directly involved with it. Now, when you book at the hotel, you don't necessarily have to wait in line or ring the bell for service at the front desk. When you arrive, check in and pay on your app, head to your room, and even enter your room via the app!

The access to your room is completely based on the app, should you choose to do it that way. It all works via Bluetooth technology. However, you need to have at least an iPhone 4S or newer for it to work. An Android device using the Android 4.3 OS or newer OS will also work. The locks on the door contain sensors which become active as soon as the Bluetooth connection is detected. One other good note is that the locks are completely battery powered. That means that although the batteries will need to be changed regularly, you will still have complete access to your room should the hotel's systems go down.

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This all seems very well and good, but could it be seen as just another gimmick to attract more customers? The CEO of the Starwood Hotels, Frits van Paasschen, actually addressed that very question. He admitted to seeing how the idea of it could seem to be a bit of a "novelty" when it first comes into use, but also said that he could see it actually being the new standard for checking into your hotel and your hotel room.

So far the only drawback is that this feature will only be available at the Starwood Aloft hotels in Cupertino, CA and Harlem, NY. Since they are the ones piloting the program, they do plan to see how well this new app works for their customers. Should the app and its uses see success, then Starwood plans to move it to all of their hotels by the end of 2015. But should you still want to keep things old school, you can always gain access through the front desk. You are not limited to the app. Just remember that having your key card and your phone become the same thing, essentially, can make life just a little bit easier for your travels.


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