Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) has been sending out quite a few invitation this past for week for program members to participate to this Smart Check-In experiment at select few Aloft hotels in the United States.
This program started in 2010 at Aloft Lexington and has slowly spread to handful of location and some more are coming online later this year. According to Starwood’s press release this May the program already has more than 10,000 participants.
If you decide to participate, SPG will send you a new RFID card that you can use to bypass the front desk altogether and swipe it at the hotel room’s door. SPG will send you the room number by a text message to your mobile device.
This is right now by invitation only and there is no way to participate unless you were invited for it.
I would imagine that over time this would spread to other SPG brands and hotel chains as well. The very limited number of participating hotels doesn’t make it very useful for a business traveler. I have experimented with the self service check in machines at Hilton and Hyatt hotels and they rarely work as intended.
Also, I would prefer to have a human contact at the full service hotels to ensure that the proper upgrade have been provided by the property and this usually requires some face time with the front desk agent. I can see something like this working at lower end SPG brands such as Aloft or Four Points, where the upgrade room/suite pool is very limited.