by Bill Disbrow

CUPERTINO (CBS SF) – A high-end Cupertino hotel is about to become the testing ground for an app that allows guests to bypass check-in and open their hotel room door using their smartphone.

The Aloft hotel in Cupertino, along with two in New York, will begin offering the service in the coming months, according to the Wall Street Journal. The hotels are part of a boutique line from the Starwood Hotel & Resort chain – which also operates the Westin, W and Sheraton hotel collections, among others.

Once the program rolls out, customers at Aloft Cupertino will get a virtual key via the app that allows them to open the key using Bluetooth. Initially the program will only work with newer iPhone and Android devices, according to WSJ. Presumably the program will give the tech-savvy clientele at the Aloft – which skews younger than the other hotel lines – both added convenience and time saving from bypassing any lines or paperwork.

Chami Perera, a Starwood platinum reward member who estimates he has stayed at the with the hotel group about 1,000 times over the last decade, says the program has limited appeal.

“I think that would be pretty cool because sometimes you lose the key or it gets demagnetized, but I also worry about (the app itself)  not working,” said Perera. “It might just be a nice backup.”

As a loyalty program member he said he doesn’t normally experience long lines and he has concerns about how the program would affect his ability to change rooms or upgrade via the device.

“They would probably have to build in some other enhancements,” said Perera. “If they can guarantee upgrades ahead of time and the rooms already set that’s one thing…but if not and it’s just 10 minutes to potentially get an upgrade, that’s still going to be worth (going to the desk) for me.”

Hotel owners have seen limited success replacing human check-in with kiosks and other automated systems. If the program takes off it could spread to 123 hotels by the end of next year, according to the report.


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