CHICAGO – Hotel companies will soon be offering guests a different kind of room key, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Some chains are adopting permanent keys that repeat guests can carry in their wallets and use for multiple trips at a variety of properties. Other establishments are doing away with physical keys altogether; instead, guests can open their room doors by holding their cellphone next to the lock.
The big selling point of the new keys, executives said, is that they let travelers skip the front desk and go straight to their rooms.
"Think of the business traveler who goes to the same hotel every week. He can go straight to his room, drop off his bag and get right to his meeting," said Pete Sears, senior vice president of operations at Hyatt Hotels Corp.
The company, which goes through five million key cards a year in its North American properties, has been testing an "Express Welcome" service at two of its Andaz hotels in California where guests can use their Gold Passport loyalty card as a key. Hyatt will be testing the service at two more hotels in San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, in the next few months.
Hotels do not see much cost saving from the changes but expect the moves will help them stand out in customer service. So far, tests of new types of keys have been limited and it is unclear how widespread the new technologies will become.