Skift Take

Starwood's keyless entry program is rife with bugs, but it's still a win.

Last November, Starwood launched its keyless entry campaign. The program was built to allow smartphone and smartwatch users the ability to remotely check into their rooms and unlock their doors, bridging the gap between today’s hotel systems and tomorrow’s smart technology. Now deployed to nearly 150 hotels though, the rollout has not been smooth.

The majority of Starwood’s woes come from the teething problems associated with vetting any new technology. Early testers, many of whom posted their experiences on FlyerTalk, reported myriad bugs and inconsistencies from difficulty in staying signed into the app to inconsistent functionality to problems with using the app to check in. The Points Guy also wrote a thorough trip report highlighting a variety of similar issues.

Based on the early reviews, it appears that Starwood faces an uphill battle in ironing out the program’s wrinkles and truly bringing the technology to mainstream use. But in developing out the keyless entry program, Starwood is creating far more than a short-term technology solution — they’re building the infrastructure for the next generation of hotel technologies and travelers.

On the technology side, that means building and testing the IT system to connect reservations, devices, front desks and guests, seamlessly stitching together all fronts when a visitor checks in or requests room service.

By engaging a mobile and wearable-centric technology, Starwood is also endearing itself to younger, more tech-focused guests, building up loyalty with the next generation of travelers.

Irrespective of what happens with the keyless entry campaign, Starwood still stands to profit. Sure, the technology may still be too early to catch on and go mainstream, but the brand loyalty and the IT infrastructure that goes into the program will be profitable on multiple levels and on multiple platforms for years to come. And if by some chance the bugs get worked out keyless entry turns into the next best thing? More icing on the Starwood cake.


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Tags: starwood

Photo credit: Still from a promotional video for the new SPG Keyless. Starwood Hotels and Resorts

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