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Smartphones to Replace Room Keys at Select Hotels – Are They Safe?


"It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel."

Business travelers are always looking for maximum efficiency and ways to save time. But smartphone room keys?

Starwood Hotels announced today they will host a trial run of a new, mobile check-in option that will allow customers to access their rooms without any hotel-issued keys.

The program debut will be showcased at the Aloft hotels in Cupertino, Ca., and in New York City's Harlem neighborhood by March. Users will access the features through Starwood's smartphone app and the low-power Bluetooth 4 wireless standard.

The hotel chain's pitch video was released today, and laughingly starts by encouraging their would-be customers,"Everything you do today is smart." The video then follows a young woman throughout her day making "smart" choices, like using her phone to pay for coffee, instead of cash.

Apparently this is the face you can expect to get from Starwood employees when you try to pay for something with cash instead of a smart phone (YouTube screenshot).

Guests at one of the participating properties will receive a message on their phone containing a virtual key, but the feature will only be available for iPhone 4s or newer models and Android phones running at least version 4.3 Jelly Bean, according to The Wall Street Journal.

PC Mag reported:

"For several years the hotel industry has dreamed about mobile check-in, and today we are excited to share that Starwood is announcing truly mobile, keyless check-in," the company said in a statement. "No more lines, stopping at a front desk or kiosk, or hotel keys."

"This is just the latest in a series of innovations stemming from a multi-year investment Starwood is making in digital and mobile technology to evolve with digitally savvy guests and provide a personalized experience online and offline," the company said.

Hackers and users alike are more aware than ever of smart phone vulnerability, yet Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen believes this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel.  "It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel," he said.

Check out the video for yourself, here.


(H/T: PC Mag)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.

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