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Aloft Hotels' New Smart Check-In Pilot Lets Guests Bypass Front Desk


As Starwood Hotels & Resort's newest style at a steal hotel brand, Aloft has been ahead of the curve in its technology strategy since its inception. Each Aloft property is built to be wired for the future, providing guests with intuitive, accessible high-tech amenities such as free Wi-Fi using CAT-6 high thru-put wires that provide the fastest speed available and high definition bandwidth throughout the hotel. An in-room connectivity solution links multiple electronic gadgets to a large flat panel HD-TV screen.

The latest innovation from Aloft is the new Smart Check-In pilot program which allows travelers to skip the front desk at check-in and head directly to their rooms. Made possible through a partnership with VingCard Elsafe, Aloft's Smart Check-In caters to a new generation of guests on the go who are more interested in high-tech rather than high-touch service.

Through the Smart Check-In pilot, which is currently being tested at Aloft Lexington (MA), select Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members who opt to participate in the program, receive an SPG / Aloft branded RFID keycard. This keycard is their SPG member card, and also acts as a room keycard when guests are in the hotel. On the day of a planned stay, an SMS text message is sent to the guest's mobile device with their room number at Aloft Lexington. Once at the hotel, guests can skip the check-in line and go straight to their assigned room, where their card will unlock the door, giving guests control of their check-in experience in the palms of their hands.

Future proofing
At Aloft Lexington, door locks were chosen based on the ability to eventually upgrade to RFID, future proofing the hotel for this technology. Then, Zigbee, the network on which these locks work, "routers and gateways" were strategically placed in the guest room corridors allowing the locks to communicate with the central server.

Aloft's Smart Check-in has provided our guests with a new level of convenience and ease. The special key card and quick access to the hotel room make guests feel like an Aloft "insider." The RFID technology allows guests to simply tap on the door lock without the need to pull their card out of their wallet in order to unlock the door to their room -- a plus when you have your hands full with luggage and laptops. By allowing guests to skip the conventional check in process, front desk talent is free to be more social with the guest and the overall arrival experience rather than a mundane transaction.

Aloft's Smart Check-In program will begin to roll out to other Aloft properties this year. As the high tech innovation lab for Starwood, the system will also inform check-in solutions across the company's portfolio.

Brian McGuinness is the senior vice president of Starwood's Specialty Select brands, including the Aloft, Element and Four Points by Sheraton brands. McGuinness is responsible for the development, strategic and creative direction, and overall performance of each of Starwood's select-serve lifestyle brands.

Hotel Locks Leap Ahead
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