The Next Hospitality Trend: Smartphone Apps As Room Keys

Holiday Inn Logo

As hotels begin to experiment with branded smartphone apps, one promising area seems to be a new test by InterContinental Hotels Group to turn your phone into your room key. As soon as July, IHG will being testing this concept for two Holiday Inn branded hotels, allowing guests that opt-in to use their phone as their room key via the Open Ways app. The Open Ways app will work across platforms, including iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. Personally, I have an Android powered phone, so I’m glad to see this isn’t an exclusive to iPhone users like most new technologies are.

[ad name=”Posts”]

If it works, the Open Ways app can work at any hotel, Koehler said. If rolled out more broadly among Holiday Inn hotels, only about 20% of a hotel’s rooms would be equipped with special keyless door locks because it would be a choice for guests that would cost the hotel owner money, he said.

“We see this as an option: ‘Do you want an Open Ways-enabled room?’ If so, click the box,” he said. “That way we can span the Baby Boomer who doesn’t have the enabled phone to the Millenial who just wants to walk in and not talk to anybody.”

It seems like IHG has put a lot of thought into this. While techies like me would be excited about this option, I’m guessing the majority of travelers would still preferred a standard room key. Plus, there is potential that the app doesn’t work, your phone breaks, etc, so having both forms of room keys for a while is definitely a must.

IHG can take this a step further too – the can build out the app to give you directions to your room via an Augmented Reality app, maybe provide tips & advice on nearby attractions and dining, and create a whole experience around the app, allowing it to do much more than simply open you’re door. If you can get customers to install an app onto their phone that directly connects them to your hotel, why not take advantage of that and find ways to connect with them better, make their trip more enjoyable, and take away some of the stress. Maybe the app could alert users when the breakfast buffet has been set, or a reminder that check-out time is coming soon and a prompt to request late check-out – the possibilities are endless.

While this all sounds like talk of the future – these apps already exist. I have an app called “Key Ring” on my Droid that stores all my loyalty cards, like Ace Rewards, Bevmo!, Safeway and other stores I frequent. The app can then display my loyalty card’s barcode to the check-out attendant, and they can swipe it with their register and it will recognize me and apply my discount – it’s a little buggy at times, but it works, and I’m excited to see this technology come to the travel & hospitality sector.

Article Souce: USA Today | Photo Source: Flickr

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: