Hilton hotels replace room keys with smartphones

Last updated 12:51 29/07/2014

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Want to choose your hotel room? Soon there will be an app for that.

Hilton Worldwide hotel guests will soon be able to use their smartphones to select specific rooms, make special requests, check in and out, and even unlock their room doors, the hotel chain announced .

By the end of this summer, members of the company's rewards program, Hilton HHonors, will be able to pick out their rooms using digital floor plans at a number of the company's brands, ranging from Homewood Suites to Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

Eventually, guests will be able to unlock their doors using smartphones, allowing them to skip the check-in counter entirely. The service is expected to launch in the United States next year.

Hilton, which went public in December following six years of private-equity ownership, has invested US$550 million (NZ$643.5 million) in IT infrastructure over the past seven years, according to a company spokeswoman.

Two years ago, the company came out with Conrad Concierge, an app that allows guests to make dinner reservations, order room service and chat with a concierge using their tablets or smartphones.

The upcoming HHonors app, which will be available for Apple and Android devices, takes the initiative a step further, executives say.

"Travellers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms," Christopher Nassetta, Hilton's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

A number of hotel chains, including Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, have also debuted apps with similar capabilities.

Choice Hotels International announced Monday that it would begin accepting hotel reservations from Ford vehicles.

Drivers can use the vehicles' hands-free system to search for available rooms via a voice-controlled reservation system.

The Washington Post

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