SPG has been testing RFID based room keys at number of Aloft hotels in North America. SPG member had to sign up for this and the SPG would then mail the key that could be use to access the room.
Now, the SPG is trying to use a Smartphone app to function as a key and hopes to roll this service to Aloft and W hotels sometime in 2015 if the demo goes well at its Aloft Harlem and Cupertino properties.
The actual door would be opened using Bluetooth technology (battery drainer) that would be somehow paired to your SPG app and phone.
Starwood executives say they recognize that some guests prefer the personal touch at check-in and have no plan to remove front desks. But they are also betting that a virtual-key approach will win over guests at a time when people are increasingly reliant on mobile devices for everything from ordering food or movie tickets to watching their favorite sports team.
No idea how this is supposed to work if you are traveling with someone else and would need two keys. Do you you need to visit the front desk? Also, this could work best with limited service properties such as Alofts that don’t have much to offer for SPG Platinum members in term of upgrades.
At least the Starwood is developing this using technology from a reputable Swedish lock company Assa Abloy.
I have seen quite a few tests by the hotel companies trying to get guests to use self service check in machines (they never worked with the Hyatt) or some sort of mobile check in (Marriott) that requires you to pick up your key from the front desk defying the purpose of the mobile check in altogether.
Considering what else has been on the news in the past few months and today (NSA is using mobile apps to snoop user information), I certainly wouldn’t be the first one to use these.
The Bluetooth on my phone is always off and there are other far more serious risks involved with it than just draining your phone battery