What to Know Now

Digital room keys are perhaps one of the most exciting facets of the Internet of Things that may soon actually help business travelers. The concept is simple: check in with a mobile device and then get a digital “key” that allows you to electronically open your door once you get to your room.

It’s a straightforward solution to a widespread problem — only it’s much more complicated than it actually sounds. Linking rooms to itineraries to travelers to smartphones takes an ocean of data and it only takes one weak link for the entire chain to break.

Starwood was the pioneer here, and it quickly learned it wasn’t simple to outfit thousands of doors with new readers. Now, Hilton is about to begin its own journey. According to Skift’s Alexandra E. Petri, the hotel chain has digital keys available in five properties but plans to introduce them to all domestic Hilton, Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties through the end of 2015 into early 2016. While Hilton Worldwide started slowly with the five properties, its plans are global. The key is not yet available abroad, as Hilton notes there are different international laws and regulations when checking in to hotels that it needs to sort out.

Hilton’s approach may be more deliberate in pace than Starwood’s was. It all attests to the challenge of making changes on such a large scale.

Social Quote of the Day

2,500 HHonors bonus points when you use Digital Key on the Hilton HHonors app – http://t.co/N8EaxZEdR6

– @MightyTravels 

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Airlines

Etihad Adds Concierge Service Because Butlers on a Plane Aren’t Fancy Enough: The Residence has fully crossed-over to luxury hotel and then flew right past that category at jet-speed. Read more at Skift

In a Shocker, It’s Been an Historic Summer for Plunging Airfares: New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ July 2015 Consumer Price Index (CPI) show that airfares have dropped 5.6 percent year-over-year in July 2015, the largest one month decline since December 1995 — nearly 20 years ago. Read more at Skift

Qantas’ Dreamliner Plans Mark the Beginning of ‘New Era’: Qantas has joined a growing list of airlines with big dreams of improved efficiencies and passenger experience, announcing its intent to purchase eight B787-9 aircraft to replace its fleet of older Boeing 747s. The new aircraft would join its fleet in 2017. Read more at Skift

From Super-Lux to Raw Unbundled, Etihad Introduces 8 New Fare Tiers: Etihad Airways, famous for over-the-top top-tier products, is the latest airline to join the competition with ultra-low cost and increasingly network carriers for revenue-enhancing unbundled fares. With the launch of its new Fare Choices program, the airline introduces a eight different fare tiers, effective September 14. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Seattle Airport Workers Eligible for $15 an Hour Minimum Wage, Court Rules: A divided Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a first-in-the nation initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the city of SeaTac should apply to thousands of workers at the airport. Read more at Skift

This Airport Is Now Tracking Your Cell Phone to Calculate Wait Times: Flyers traveling through Terminal Four of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York will now have a more accurate line wait time displayed on each of the monitors, thanks to Bluetooth beacon technology. Read more at Flyertalk

US Airways to Skip Birth-City Pittsburgh For Final Flight: A former Pittsburgh county executive says US Airways is insulting the city that helped give it its start. Read more at Skift

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Tech

What’s the Value of a Hotel Star Rating in a TripAdvisor World? Seeing a five-star rating by AAA Diamond or Forbes Travel Guide on a hotel’s website signals the caliber of service and amenities guests can expect but leaves unanswered questions about other experiential aspects of a property. Read more at Skift

Why Uber Could Face Its Toughest Fight Yet in China: A year ago, China’s market for taxi-hailing apps was split almost evenly between one service called Didi and another called Kuaidi. Investors began pouring in money and choosing sides. Then, in February, the two merged. Read more at Skift

Hilton’s (Digital) Key To Success in Guest-Staff Relations: After launching its digital check-in service across both its Hilton HHonors loyalty app and its website in 2014, Hilton has further embedded technology into the hotel experience with the digital key, the app’s latest feature. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Starwood Hopes Its New Sheraton Grand Will Revive the Overall Brand: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has launched its newest premier-tier brand, Sheraton Grand, and it hopes the designation will help have a positive impact throughout the overall Sheraton brand. Read more at Skift

Hilton Worldwide to Phase Out Porn on In-Room TVs: After at least three years of being featured on an anti-porn group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, Hilton Worldwide has agreed to begin phasing out adult entertainment at all of its properties worldwide subject to contractual obligations, according to published reports. Read more at Skift

Wynn Resorts Boston Runs Into Opposition From Attorney General: Citing traffic concerns, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is calling upon state environmental officials to deny Wynn Resorts a key permit for its $1.7 billion casino project at the Everett waterfront. Read more at Skift

Hotels Partner With College To Address Shortage in Tourism Workforce: The demand for tourism workers in Wisconsin is exceeding supply. The chronic shortage is prompting businesses and educators to develop new strategies to attract workers and train the next generation of managers in a quickly growing industry, according to the Press-Gazette Media. Read more at Skift

Brazil’s Fasano Hotel Brand’s First Stop in the U.S. Is Miami Beach: A Brazilian company is taking over an Art Deco landmark in Miami Beach. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Runwaygirl Network has a new video series. Called #paxexnetwork, the first episode is here.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin

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Photo Credit: Hilton's new keyless entry app. Hilton Hotels