Sometimes you just want to get to your hotel room as quickly as possible. Hotel chains had the idea that they could accommodate this guest desire, and save on front desk labor costs, by rolling out check-in kiosks.
I even won 60,000 Starpoints a dozen years ago by winning a contest to name Sheraton’s solution (“Sheraton SpeedCheck”). But I never actually used one. And it turns out that people don’t choose to go to the kiosk instead of the front desk.
Hilton announced mobile app checkin two years ago along with a pick your own room feature. Now they integrate Google Maps to help you know which room to pick.
Marriott’s mobile app check-in and keyless option had real porblems because they didn’t properly verify credit cards at first, someone with a $1 gift card balance would get a room and never get charged for the room.
The rollout of new check-in technologies hasn’t been completely smooth. Starwood launched the technology first but I tried to use Starwood’s keyless last summer unsuccessfully.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work:
In practice? At about 10pm, wanting to get sleep before morning meetings, that appealed to me. I checked in with the phone and got the message that I’d still need to go to the front desk.
That’s still the screen that showed up half an hour later when I arrived at the hotel, and I had tried restarting the app already.
At the front desk they were a bit perplexed, but refreshed the key and I restarted the app and it appeared to work.
Only it didn’t work. I couldn’t get it to let me up the elevator, the front desk tried to refresh it, it wouldn’t open my room. The front desk printed me a room key and suggested I try keyless again with them the next day. Why would I put more work into getting keyless to work once I had a key?
Over the winter Starwood offered 2500 bonus point for trying the feature. But I didn’t stay at any property with the option during the promotion period, rollout was still fairly limited.
Starwood, though, has announced their 2.0 technology that should solve both functionality and availability constraints.
- More properties including rollout to some Westin, Sheraton, Le Méridien, and even Four Points hotels.
- Multi-key functionality more than one person can have keyless access to a single room.
- More reliable promising better stability and speed in actually unlocking doors using Keyless.
We’ll see. What I find most interesting is that they’ve continued the IT development on keyless despite the pending Starwood acquisition by Marriott. So much of Starwood’s capabilities already seems to be shutting down in deference to the merger and Marriott intending to take over with their own systems. So one imagines much of this was already ‘in the chute’.