If I had a dollar for every time I locked myself out of a hotel room, or lost an electronic key card, I would be driving around in a Tesla Model S, just not very fast. The folks at Hilton Worldwide want to make lost key cards a thing of the past, by introducing a phone app that would work as your room key.
The Hilton HHonors app (available for both iOS and Android) wouldn’t just allow you to enter your hotel room, but it will help cut wait times in hotel lobbies considerably. The app allows you to pick an available room based on the hotels floor plans, and check-in, all without having to wait in the lobby. In addition, the app gives users the ability to purchase upgrades and request items be brought up to their rooms, all from the convenience of their smartphone screen. While this sounds very intuitive, and particularly handy if you happen to be in a hurry, it is also a quite frightening. This app will essentially cut away any human interaction involved with a hotel stay, outside of opening the door to get food and drink delivered. There is no question that technology makes things easier for us, but when we start moving away from even speaking to one another, it makes you wonder if we will be a society of hermits in 20 years.
The process hasn’t been completely streamlined yet. Hilton plans on having digital room selection, and check-in, in over 4000 locations by the end of this year. Starting next year, they will begin incorporating the “smartphone as a room key” model in their hotels. Digital check-out is presently only available in the US, and will be available to the rest of the world by the end of 2016.
Change can be difficult at times. It will likely take some time for this technology to catch on with the masses. As can be expected with anything new, there are several questions to ask here. Prime among them, is how safe will this be? The world is full of malicious, tech-savvy minds. Things get hacked; identities get stolen all the time. What will prevent a hacker from duplicating your digital keycard on their phone, sneaking into your room, picking through your possessions, and nonchalantly walking out of the hotel? Who will question this person? He/she probably just digitally checked out, right?
I am sure Hilton will have countermeasures in place to prevent these types of scenarios, but that won’t help ease the minds of those among us who are a bit more paranoid than the norm. Luckily, those unwilling to jump on the digital future, still have the option to use a traditional keycard, and face to face check-in, for now.
In the end, this will likely be how all hotels will operate in the future. The key to this (no pun intended), is to give users the choice. Whether they want to use the traditional keycard, or move to an all-in-one app, the choice should be theirs to make. As long as big name hotels understand this, then all will be well in the hospitality industry.