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.”

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. RobertKCole

    I don’t believe “keyless entry” technically does not become a first until it happens in a hotel. A hotel rekeying a few rooms for PR purposes should not really count either.

    Mobile/online check-in with key pickup at the desk or kiosk is available at select Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Omni and IHG properties, but not all properties as yet.

    Not to diss the effort, I think it is great they are pushing the technology forward. However, NFC is not going to be the way to go unless Apple supports it. All indications are that Apple has not figured out how to completely control the environment without the meddling of the hardware manufacturers or mobile carriers. I see Apple’s support of NFC and Adobe Flash as being pretty similar…

    HT can talk to the brands all they want, but that isn’t going to make keyless entry happen – it’s the hotel owners who have to pay and the $150-$240, and that amount is just for the door lock/hardware – excluding labor. In many cases, the hoteliers are going to have to swap out the entire door, which would cost much more.

    A bit puzzled why they didn’t go with Bluetooth LE – much better probability of its use as the hotel lock platform of choice due to support across all mobile OS’ and significanty expanded universe of use cases associated with Beacon functionality.

    My guess is that they wanted to offer functionality that Apple could not replicate; regardless of the fact that it would make no sense for a hotel to support it either at this point…

  2. Valentin Dombrovsky

    Recently we have discussed how iBeacon might help in that case –

    So there’s space for someone else to be the 1st using this technology for hotel check-in. If I didn’t miss anything.


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