Skift Take

Mobile check-in isn't new for a hotel to roll out, but the Starwood Preferred Guest promotion could help it go more mainstream.

A new promotion that Marriott is running for its its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program may indicate how much weight the hotel operator is putting behind the program’s mobile app in the future.

Through the middle of June, anyone who uses the mobile check-in functionality on the Starwood Preferred Guest mobile app will automatically earn 250 points per stay. The promo and online check-in is only available at a portion of the former Starwood’s hotels, including the lion’s share of Four Points by Sheratons, Le Meridiens, Sheratons, The St. Regis and Westins, but with multiple visits, balances can add up quickly.

View from the Wing initially shared news about the promotion.

Starwood points are generally treasured among loyalty enthusiasts because of their broad utility – notably among airline transfer partners. The Points Guy values SPG points at 2.7 cents each (the blog values Hyatt points at 1.8 cents each). A typical free room costs between 6,000 and 20,000 points, though many travelers use the points for other purposes.

Beyond the simple promotion, Marriott’s move is a sign of the operator’s increasing interest in remote, mobile tools to handle guest reservations and check-in. In the same way that airlines moved to kiosks and online check-in earlier this decade, hotels now have an opportunity to cut labor costs and streamline guest flow by pushing much of the arrival process through a mobile app.

The only touch point in which a real human may need to be involved – and that many hotels still can’t avoid – is the process of picking up a key. Already, however, Marriott is working on solving that problem. Late in 2014, before the 2016 merger with Marriott, Starwood started piloting keyless entry at a handful of properties around the world. Since then, the program spread, although it’s hardly in full use across the former Starwood network.

As Starwood and Marriott move closer to a fully merged company, Marriott has its own suite of technology to bring to the table. In 2013, Marriott launched mobile check-in through its own app, and the company has been experimenting with kiosks to automatically issue keys to mobile visitors.

Broadly distributed mobile check-in hasn’t happened overnight — or even as smoothly as the airline transition went. But by slowly integrating the changes and incentivizing travelers to use the online tools, Marriott’s Starwood unit appears to be leading the way among hotel operators. Soon, a traveler may never see a human being between arrival and the mattress.


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Tags: loyalty, starwood, starwood preferred guest

Photo credit: Starwood Preferred Guest enables keyless entry at Aloft. The program is giving members extra points for mobile check-ins. Starwood Hotels & Resorts

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