Starwood App Gets Mobile Check-in, New Features, and Systemwide Rollout By End of 2017

Starwood launched ‘keyless’ mobile check-in and use of your phone as room key at Aloft, Element and W hotels and Marriott and Starwood combined expect to have the feature at 500 hotels by year end (or about 10% of the combined portfolio).

They’ve announced today that they’re expanding mobile check-in using the Starwood app to 22 more hotels in the U.S. and expect to complete this across the Starwood portfolio by year’s end, matching coverage on the Marriott side. Marriott reports they currently do “200,000 check-ins occurring each week” via mobile.

Here’s the Starwood mobile check-in via app functionality,

Members will receive a notification approximately 48 to 72 hours before their stay asking if they would like to check-in using the SPG app. On the day of arrival, a notification will be sent to their mobile device alerting them that their room is ready and their key is waiting for them at the front desk, and when they checkout using the SPG app, their folio will be emailed to them. With the SPG app, members can also Make A Green Choice® and request early check-in as well. SPG Elite members already enjoy the convenience of requesting a late check-out in the app and Platinum Elite members can choose their preferred arrival gift.

Now, when keyless works — check in using your phone and use your phone as a room key — that’s great for my late night arrivals at a hotel where I just want to get into a room and go to sleep as quickly as possible. I’m an introvert and that’s really magnified when I’m tired. I’d prefer to avoid any interactions at all on the way to bed.

Unfortunately keyless doesn’t always work seamlessly in my experience, and having to head back down to the desk after going to the room and failing to get the phone to open the door is annoying (though no different when the desk fails to code your key correctly, or when you’re given late checkout and you return to your room to find the key wasn’t coded for late checkout).

W Times Square

That’s why I was excited by last summer’s announcement of improved reliability, allowing more than one person to have keyless access to a room, and expanded rollout.

On the other hand mobile check-in — similar to online check-in, or Hyatt’s old 1-800-CHECKIN telephone check-in — doesn’t keep you from having to visit the desk since you still need a room key. And I’ve found agents take pretty much just as long to get me a key when I’ve used mobile check-in as when I haven’t.

If I’m using mobile check-in I want to minimize interaction, but agents give me the same schpiel they’re taught to give welcoming me, asking me how my trip in was, mentioning things about the property (especially the restaurant or bar if they’re prioritizing selling that feature). It may save a swipe of my credit card, but if mobile check-in can save that step then they could just as easily use my card on file for in-person check-in as well.

Marriott tells me, though, that members like mobile check-in. Or at least they like it a little more than I do, because “Marriott Rewards members using mobile check-in rate the arrival experience two percentage points higher” than those who do not.

They also tell me that guests like “knowing that when they arrive their room is available.” The mobile app gives an alert that a room is ready. If I’m checking in at or near a hotel’s check-in time I assume that my room will be ready, and if it’s no we’ll have an issue.

Requesting early check-in and late-checkout via app is useful to eliminate the need for a phone or in-person interaction, although I always worry that it’s really confirmed or unless late checkout is re-discussed at check-in that keys won’t be coded correctly and my key will stop working prior to check-out time. Requesting choice of Platinum amenity is useful, I often find that agents forget to ask and code amenity choice as points rather than breakfast by default.

Mobile check out is probably the most useful. I use check out by computer on many stays so I can ensure I get a copy of my folio without having to stop by the desk or follow up after the stay. That actually does save time (and aligns with my introvert preference for limited interaction).

The first hotels in the Starwood portfolio with mobile check-in are:

Marriott expects the Starwood app to offer ‘mobile requests’ next year, mirroring Marriott app functionality, letting users request “services and amenities, and text directly with hotel associates before, during and after their stays to make special requests.”

While bringing this functionality to Starwood properties is part of the integration work between Marriott and Starwood, continued development of the Starwood app including plans for new features in 2018, underscores the long timeline required to bring Starwood and Marriott together as a single brand and into a single loyalty program.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You didn’t mention anything about upgrades. I agree with you- I don’t find much benefit to mobile check in, and it seems as if it might lessen the chance of upgrades. I haven’t seen very much information on that.

  2. I’ve always had concern that if I use keyless or mobile checkin, or check in early, I would risk losing the potential of an upgrade

  3. But wait!!! A certain troll on these blogs keeps saying “SPG is RIP”, now I’m so confused!

  4. I may not be that useless Hilton Troll that UA-NYC is referring to, but I gotta say that the Hilton check-in experience in the app that lets me select an exact room is fantastic. I don’t see any reference to that by SPG/Marriott, but would love that as a feature. Especially for those of us who frequent the same hotels and have a preferred room…

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