Starwood’s W Hotel in Leicester Square, London, today became the latest in the group to offer keyless door entry, with the official launch coming as Apple Watch went on sale.
The landmark property is allowing Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty club members, which is free to join, the chance to use the technology.
Scanners that read digital keys via guests’ smartphones and wearable devices have been installed on all the hotel’s room doors, in the lifts and other public areas that require key entry.
The roll-out follows initial trials of the Bluetooth enabled technology that started at the W in Doha last November.
In jurisdictions where legislators allow, the keyless check-in enables guests to access their rooms without interacting with a member of staff.
In London guests are still required to show identification and lodge a credit card, but the keyless technology alerts the hotel of their arrival.
Daniel Kerzner, vice-president digital, loyalty and partnership marketing EMEA, said this will allow its staff to spend more time customising the guest experience.
“The idea of keyless was not specifically to bypass front desk. We want to be able to give back time to our guests and hotel staff.
“We are saving time at the front desk because we don’t have to cut a key and our guests are having a much better arrival experience.”
Keyless entry was demonstrated on a smartphone and the new Apple Watch, which went on sale today. The Starwood group issues 33 million plastic keys a year and estimates that with check-in averaging three minutes, this equates to an estimated 142,266,790 minutes spent checking-in each year.
The group also says its room doors are opened 383,250,000 times a year.
It is pushing the new technology particularly in its tech-savvy brands like the W, Aloft and Elements and will soon have 30,000 doors fitted with devices in 150 properties.
Already 130,000 customers have signed up to use Keyless SPG in 130 countries.
Kerzner said Apple Watch was primed to be a big bit among its customers. “Our guests are very excited for Apple Watch but I think they are excited for wearables in general.
“We are very focused on giving our guests a better way of experiencing the world and wearable technology will do that.
“It’s how our guests travel and about how we can give them a better travel experience, whether that’s through technology or partnerships.
“With the Apple Watch it was not just a case of how we shrink our app down to fit the device, it’s very much thinking about how our guests would want to interact.
“Wearables will be one of the fastest-growing technologies in our lifetime and it’s something that will be well integrated with our guests and Starwood.”
Starwood has previously announced tie-ups with taxi booking app Uber and airlines including strategic partners Delta and Emirates, under which guests earn loyalty points.
Ultimately, Kerzner said this enhanced experience will help the hotel operator drive up loyalty and direct bookings.
“Our guests have a choice of where they stay and what we are doing through our partnerships and technology is creating loyalty beyond reason for our guests.
“That’s driving more share of wallet to Starwood. We are doing this to generate more business by creating a better guest experience.”
In select hotels Starwood has also been allowing guests to communicate with it through various instant messaging apps, like WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.
It says that 75% of guests in these hotels globally use WhatsApp which hotel staff monitor and offer an instant response to questions and requests.
Kerzner said this allows guests to interact with the hotel in the same way as they do with colleagues and friends.
“The people in the hotels managing that are the same people who were previously answering phone calls.
“We have found that the time it takes to have a two-way message conversation with a guest is less than on the phone and we can have multiple conversations going on at the same time.
“It also allows us to be more proactive on offering other services. It’s not about selling to the guest but offering a better experience.”
Daniel Kerzner, demonstrates SPG Keyless at the W London Leicester Square on his new Apple Watch.