Hotel chain testing program of using smartphones as room keys

Jan. 27, 2014 at 6:10 PM

CUPERTINO, Calif., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Hotel guests may soon be able to bypass the check-in counter and unlock their rooms with digital keys sent to an app on their iPhones, one hotel chain says.

The pilot program is being tested at two Aloft boutique hotels in the Starwood hospitality chain -- one in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood and another in Apple's native Cupertino in California, AppleInsider reported Monday.

Room locks at the hotels will use Bluetooth proximity keys, similar to the Bluetooth-based consumer locksets that have appeared on the market.

Starwood said the system would be compatible with Apple's iPhones as well as recent Android devices.

The chain believes smartphone-enabled self-service technology will be an important marketing weapon point for hotels in the future, Starwood head Frits van Paasschen told the Wall Street Journal.

"We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel," he said. "It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel."

Following the pilot program, Starwood said it aims have the system active in more than 100 U.S. locations by the end of 2014.

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