Hotels testing using smartphones as keys

We’re quickly moving toward a future where your smartphone is the center of everything, as the good folks at Holiday Inn are testing a program where you can use your iPhone, BlackBerry or favorite device as a room key.

The hotel is using technology from Open Ways (warning: that website is loud and annoying) to work with Apple, RIM and various Android devices to bypass the front desk. If everything’s in place, you’d register and pay via the hotel’s website, then use the Open Ways app near a sensor at your hotel room.

“The proliferation of smartphones is growing in such a way that we have to look at what people are already bringing with them to make their stay more enjoyable,” InterContinental Hotel Group exec Bryson Koehler told USA Today. “We don’t need to burden people with additional items; it just clutters up their lives. The beauty of the smartphone is that they’ve already got it.”

The hotel company and others are also testing out RFID ways to open your door but that could be more difficult to achieve at scale because it would require the doors to be retrofitted and for a new wave of phones to appear (maybe the next iPhone?) The app-centric approach would still require new sensors to be installed on doors but it works with the current crop of devices.

I’m all for this because the check-in process just seems like an antiquated process. Still, there are a few business and technological problems before this can go mainstream. The app has to work consistently or it could lead to a lot of cheesed off customers. Additionally, hotels could lose that personal touch and branding connection with the customer, which is always a problem.

What do you think, friends? Would you miss that check-in desk or is the convenience of using your phone worth skipping out on forced pleasantries?

[Via USA Today]

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