HotelTonight claims industry first with mobile check-in and key-less entry
Bragging rights it seems to HotelTonight with an update to its mobile app to include mobile check-in for hotels and the ability to enter rooms without a key.
The same-day mobile hotel booking claims it is the first intermediary to offer the two features on a mobile application (both were debuted at Google‘s I/O event today).
The “Express Check-In” feature will mean guests can essentially circumvent the existing check-in process at a hotel’s reception.
Users will be notified by the app when the room is available so they can arrive at a property and collect their room key.
The second feature may well bypass the last part of this process eventually, too, with “Keyless Entry” (operated by Brivo Labs) giving users the ability to unlock a room from within the application.
It works via NFC technology on the Android app and uses an API from Brivo, according to HotelTonight at the event.
Brivo and HotelTonight say they are discussing the key-less entry technology with “several global hotel chains” ahead of some kind of roll-out to users.
CEO and co-founder Sam Shank says:
“Changing the way people think about booking a hotel room has been our mission from the start. In the last three years, we’ve proven that it doesn’t have to be a long and arduous process.
“While booking a room only takes ten seconds on the HT app, the check-in process could often be time-consuming.”
The mobile check-in service is currently being piloted on the Apple version of the brand with a small group of hotels, with plans to include integrate it into the Android system shortly.
A number of companies, such as CheckMate, have been supplying similar services to hotels but only by providing the technology to sit within the property’s own mobile application.
Technology such as RFID and Bluetooth LE has been used alongside NFC to operate the door mechanisms.
Still, many hotels have so far shied away from installing key-less entry technology for mobile devices due to the prohibitive costs involved, sometimes in the region of $150-240 per door unit.
To this point, chief operating officer Jared Simon says:
“The honest answer is that we’re always looking to push the innovation envelope, and we really just saw the keyless entry pilot as a great way to demonstrate what’s possible.
“We’re very excited to get hotels’ perspectives on it and we’ll use those perspectives and level of interest to determine a rollout strategy and relationships between the various parties (hotels, lock manufactures, HotelTonight, etc)
“As always, we want hotels to view HotelTonight and our various features as a set of tools that they can pick and choose depending on what makes the most sense for each particular hotel’s business needs.
“The hotel will always remain in the driver’s seat on HotelTonight.”
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.