Mobile phones replace keycards at Hilton Hotels

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Hotel guests in the UK will be able to use their phone as a key to enter their rooms, as part of an international roll out of the technology by Hilton. On Thursday, Hilton said it was launching its digital key in 10 UK hotels, with plans to extend that to 100 by the end of the year. The system has been running in about 1,700 hotels, mainly in the US and Canada, with the company aiming for it to be in use at half of its 5,000 hotels globally by 2018.

Geraldine Calpin, Hilton’s chief marketing officer, said Hilton had spent more than $100m to develop and install the digital key technology, as well as a further $550m on technology “infrastructure” to run its app and hotel management systems.

Hilton’s system requires customers to download an app and “activate” their digital key a day before arrival. Using the app, they can check-in early and also choose their preferred room. On arrival, customers press a virtual “unlock” button on their phone as they approach the door to their room.

It is expected that the use of key-cards will be outdated in the near future, and mobile phones and contact features will operate hotel rooms effectively. This type of technology is being tested by numerous global hotel chains seeking to transform the way their hotel operates and interacts with their guests.