Docomo interTouch, a leading Japanese technology company, is working with OpenWays, an access and security solutions provider, to roll out a new form of hotel room key across Asia-Pacific – the mobile phone.
The mobile key technology, called “Freedom Check in”, enables guests to skip the entire front desk check in and head straight to their rooms upon arrival. Surprisingly, the service does not use Near Field Communication (NFC) or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), but a secure encrypted audio signal to open the door, making it compatible with any mobile gadget instead of just NFC-enabled phones.
Close to their check-in date, guests will receive a text message with the room number and a dedicated telephone number. When standing outside their guestroom, they simply need to call that number and an audio signal will be played back, which will be detected by a sensor to open the door. Click here to view a video on how the technology works.
So far, this tool has been installed at several hotels around the world, including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties in the US, The Hotel in Brussels and at Citadines properties in Lyon and Cannes. With Docomo's help, the technology will be provided to hotels in Asia-Pacific, although specific properties or brands have not yet been announced, and nor has a concrete timeline.
The demand for streamlined check-in procedures is being picked up on by hotels starting to adopt various ways in which to simplify and quicken the procedure. Starwood’s Aloft hotels, for example, have rolled out a special Starwood/Aloft branded RFID membership card for its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programme members that doubles up as a keycard (see story here). Many other hotels, such as the Marina Bay Sands Singapore (see story here), offer paperless check- in options via handheld tablets that can be completed either en route to the hotel or even in the guest’s room.