Millions of flyers already use their smartphones to pay for tickets, check in and choose seats. But once they reach the hotel, the check-in and verification process is still, for the most part, a manual experience.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings, owner of 4,200 hotels and resorts globally, will begin integrating smartphones into the check-in and even room unlocking process, according to The Wall Street Journal. Pilot projects will begin by early next year, and a full rollout is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. As customers are becoming more comfortable booking, transacting and even paying for things on a smartphone, the expectation is that the ubiquitous devices will, like other cards in one’s wallet, replace the magnetic key used to open rooms and access guarded-off areas of the hotel.
The $550 million bet is meant to get ahead of competitors like Starwood and Marriot, as customers tend to love using existing technologies to improve their hotel experiences. And as more smartphones come standard with Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC connectivity, it will be easier to use a single platform across most phone operating systems. Hilton also wants to ensure that access will be seamless across all devices, and that security is upheld both for current and future vacationers.
Smartphones are already being used to unlock doors to homes and apartments, and wearables like Bionym’s Nymi aim to use unique biometrics to reinforce security.
No word when Hilton will begin retrofitting its Canadian hotels, but you can bet they will be at the top of the list.