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.