Some Starwood hotels and Disney are using keyless technology. Guests can open rooms, sometimes bypass check-in counter with digital system.
Opening hotel-room doors with an electronic swipe card isn’t terribly difficult. But industry officials want to make it even easier for guests to get into their rooms.
Starwood Hotels is one of the first hotel conglomerates to use keyless technology nationwide. It’s available at more than 100 W Hotels, Element by Westin and Aloft hotels, including the Aloft Orlando downtown.
Registered users of the Starwood Preferred Guest program can bypass the front desk, open the SPG Keyless app and hold their phone up to the door’s keypad. Using Bluetooth, guests will know a door is unlocked when the flashing green light becomes solid and their phone vibrates.
At Walt Disney World, where resort guests have been able to open their room doors with MagicBands since 2013, updated technology is allowing visitors to skip the check-in counter as well.
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Disney says nearly all of its hotel guests use MagicBands as all-in-one devices that also give theme-park admission and FastPass plus function, as well as being used to charge purchases to the guest’s room during their stay.
Guests who complete the check-in process online must have a credit-card number on file, accept terms of agreement and create a PIN code. They get a notification when their room is ready and can then go directly to it.
“I think that’s the first chapter of keyless entry,” Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said of MagicBands.
Dow, who worked with Marriott for more than 30 years, said Disney has figured out additional benefits to making access easy.
“You begin seeing the thinking process of what this does,” he said. “Because the Disney people have figured it out. Now they know with the bracelets who’s their high spenders, what they’re doing, where they’re going.”
Starwood’s expanded keyless system, which was announced in March, is an upgrade from Aloft’s Smart Check-In, which debuted in 2010.
In December, Hilton Worldwide announced it will roll out digital check-in and room selection in more than 4,100 hotels in 11 brands worldwide. Guests in the Hilton HHonors rewards programs will be able to check in and pick their exact room from digital floor plans.
This year the technology will be available to guests at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotel & Resorts. By the end of 2016, it will be available at a majority of Hilton Worldwide’s properties.
Phil Dumas, president of Winter Park-based UniKey Technologies, said keyless entry has been a long time coming for the hospitality industry.
The new technology joins other amenities, such as free wireless Internet, HBO or a microwave in a hotel room, Dumas said.
“It is an amenity people will pay for and look for when it becomes known,” Dumas said.
Dumas’ company has developed a similar keyless entry, a smart lock that can unlock with the touch of a finger.
He said the next step is to expand the technology, but companies need to remember to make sure any keyless-entry system is actually quicker than the current method.
The magnetized key card is a two-step process: remove key from pocket and insert it into the door.
Keyless entry, though it might save time at the front desk, might take up to five steps: pull out phone, unlock phone, open app, unlock door with app and possibly hold the phone up to the door after it’s been activated.
“It has to be done in the right way,” said Dumas.