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TPG Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss and TPG Content and Community Manager Ryan Gaines sat down with Starwood Hotels and Resorts CEO Frits van Paasschen and Senior Vice President, Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital, Chris Holdren yesterday at the W New York Downtown to discuss SPG Keyless, the new keyless RFID-based entry system rolling out through SPG properties starting this afternoon. Here’s their report:
When you’ve been traveling all day, the last thing you want to do is wait in a long line and deal with checking in to your hotel. It’s no fun digging out your credit card and ID, bags in hand, when all you want to do is collapse on your bed. Starting today, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members can bypass the check-in process at select hotels and go straight to their rooms with no lines and no hassle, thanks to the new SPG Keyless App.
Now live at 10 properties (including the Aloft Beijing, W Hollywood, W Hong Kong, and Element Times Square), with a gradual roll out to all W Hotels, Aloft, and Element properties by early 2015 (and other SPG brands at a later date), SPG Keyless provides for a truly self-service experience. In order to use SPG Keyless, you must be a SPG member who books a hotel room through Starwood (hotel websites, SPG.com, the SPG app, or over the phone) with a compatible device. Those who book through third-party vendors such as Expedia or Priceline are unable to use this new feature, as their reservations are not kept on the SPG App. SPG Keyless is now available on all iPhone 4s and newer phones running iOS8, and select Android devices running Flavor 4.3 and above.
How SPG Keyless Works:
- As an SPG Member, you must register your phone once through the SPG App and allow push notifications.
- After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel and approximately 24 hours before arrival, you can opt in to SPG Keyless.
- Upon registering SPG Keyless, you can add preferences such as high or low floors, arrival and departure times, and other room preferences.
- You’ll receive a push notification that you’re checked in, and the SPG App will update with your room number and a Bluetooth key when the room is ready.
- Upon arrival at the hotel, you can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to your room.
- After ensuring your Bluetooth is enabled, you simply open the SPG App, hold the smartphone to the door lock, wait for the solid green light, and enter the room.
After a personal demonstration of SPG Keyless by Holdren, we were informed that this is just one step in the evolution of the Starwood Preferred Guest experience, with new and exciting changes coming down the line. Van Paasschen discussed the upcoming launch of in-app room service (similar to Seamless), with which you can order room service before you even arrive at the property, so your food will be ready when you reach your room. We were told to expect more news next week as SPG announces further updates to their loyalty program.
Security is of utmost concern to guests and Starwood alike, and we were told that providing a safe and secure system for displaying private room information was a top priority. Room numbers are not displayed on the phone in a static state, and are only shown when logging into the app and for a few quick clicks. As Holdren mentioned, you won’t have to worry about someone seeing your room number printed on your key card holder anymore.
As I explained to him, one of my biggest pet peeves is getting to my door to discover that I’ve either forgotten my key somewhere or that it has been deactivated, and having to traipse all the way back to the front desk to get a new one. With SPG Keyless, those problems are (mostly) solved.
SPG Keyless is an evolution of Starwood’s Smart Check-In, which debuted at Aloft hotels in 2011, and allowed guests to bypass traditional check-in and access their rooms with a RFID-equipped key card. Building upon that foundation, Starwood worked with Assa Abloy (the world’s largest lock manufacturer) to create an all-new, Bluetooth-enabled lock, as well as keyless software, designed to securely recognize and connect with a guest’s mobile device.
This is a really awesome feature to see rolled out by Starwood, and I’m excited to see the guest experience evolve in such a tech-savvy way. It will be interesting to see if and how other chains incorporate this type of technology moving forward.