Starwood’s keyless entry takes self-service to a new level

Later this week, ten Starwood hotels will let customers use their smartphones to unlock their hotel room doors, bypassing the front desk for check-in. The program, SPG Keyless, will be available to Starwood Preferred Guests who book their rooms through the Starwood mobile app.

When those customers’ rooms are ready, they will get a notification along with their key code, and then they can just pop into the hotel and go directly to their room. You have to open the app to unlock the door, which means you’re going to need a phone with a charge and your hands free, but many will consider it a small price to pay in order to avoid a wait.

However, the service, which was been beta-tested by about 50 Starwood rewards members, is putting more of an onus on customers to handle their own booking and service. This will be fine for the myriad people who already book online (although having to book through the Starwood app means Priceline or Expedia users will not be able to take advantage of the new keyless entry), but there are plenty of people who will either worry about the security of the key codes or still want to chance to haggle with the front desk for a room upgrade.

Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s senior VP of distribution/loyalty and partnership marketing, said the chain will roll out keyless entry to 30,000 rooms in 150 hotels in early 2015, focusing on the W, Aloft and Element brands. He said it was a relatively small investment for the company to buy the locks and train the staff, but with well over 50 percent of the hotel’s guests enrolled in the Starwood Preferred Guest program it has the potential to make a big impact.

SPG Keyless goes live Wednesday, November 5 at Aloft Beijing, Aloft Cancun, Aloft Cupertino, Aloft Harlem, W Doha, W Hollywood, W Hong Kong, W New York-Downtown, W Singapore and Element Times Square. Starwood is working with the world’s largest lock manufacturer, Assa Abloy, to build the new, Bluetooth-enabled lock as well as the software.