InterContinental is to become the first chain in the industry to pilot technology that allows guests to open their guestroom with a smartphone.

The group will roll out the technology, designed by OpenWays, to two US Holiday Inn properties, gathering feedback from the first guests to use the system.

Travelers staying at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago O’Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown will have the option to enroll in the program prior to their check-in date.

They will be sent a text message with their room number and a link to receive the audio key.

When they arrive at the hotel, they will be able to go straight to their room and unlock the door using the secure, encrypted key which is “played” from their smartphone to the lock on the hotel door.

OpenWays says that each key produced is encrypted and unique, becoming obsolete after it is first used for security reasons.

“More and more of our guests — especially Gen Y and business travelers — are looking for simpler, more efficient ways to check-in and get to their rooms,” said Bryson Koehler, senior vice president of revenue and guest technology, IHG.

“Due to the proliferation of mobile devices, a MobileKey could be a great option.”

InterContinental says that the system is compatible with the latest smartphones (including the new Apple iPhone 4 and 3GS, the Google Android-based phones and Blackberry models) and every other cell phone and carrier worldwide.

Earlier this year, Aloft, owned by InterContinental’s rival Starwood, announced that it was piloting a program that also allows guests to skip the front desk.

Guests using the Aloft scheme are sent a special RFID-enabled Loyalty Card, which allow them to unlock their rooms without receiving a keycard on check-in.

Source: AFPrelaxnews