U.S. Hotel Chain Plans To Replace Room Keycards With iPhone App

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has begun a pilot program in two of its major hotel locations in Manhattan and Silicon Valley, which does away with keycards altogether by allowing guests to enter their rooms using just their smartphones.

Hotel guests will receive a message sent to a dedicated Starwood app, containing a virtual key, which then opens their hotel room due using Bluetooth. Starwood had claimed that the technology will work with the iPhone 4s and newer — in addition to several competitors.

Starwood is hoping that the innovation will trigger a change in the hospitality sector, which can then be rolled out more widely.

Setting a standard won’t be easy, though. While many guests will, for example, happily hand their room keycards over to their kids, it’s not known how many would do the same with their iPhone.

While the pilot program has yet to be completed, Starwood is nonetheless optimistic: claiming that it plans to introduce the virtual key in all its luxury W Hotels and Aloft hotels — which today consists of around 120 properties — by the end of 2015.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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