Smart Phones as Room Keys

Starwood introduced a “Smart Check-In” pilot program in February 2010, allowing selected Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) to skip the Front Desk and use their SPG cards as room keys. This pilot program provides guests an option of skipping the Front Desk during their stay. Today, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) introduced a similar pilot program at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago O’Hare and the Holiday Inn Express downtown Houston. In these two locations, guests may choose to use their smart phones as room keys (as demonstrated in the embedded video). Here is how it works:

• Guests opt to participate in the program by registering through e-mail or at the Front Desk.
• On the day of arrival, the room number as well as a secured link will be sent to the registered guests’ smart phones via text messages.
• Guests may then open the door with the secured link.

Even though IHG plans to introduce this “mobile-key” concept to more properties, guests may still choose between the smart-phone key and the traditional keycard options. As a manager, how do you evaluate this smart phone practice as a company’s mobile strategy? As a customer, how do you use your smart phones when you travel?

References:
U.S.A. Today: http://tinyurl.com/linchikwok09202010
The embedded video was brought to us via http://innovationcenter.ihg.com/

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