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More Hotels Embrace Mobile Solutions

IHG is the latest hotel group to add smartphone-aided convenience to the travel experience.

Checking in for a flight with a mobile device has become second nature to many travelers, and momentum for this kind of technology in the hotel sector has continued to build. IHG Hotels & Resorts announced last week that digital check-in is now available at more than 3,000 of its U.S. and Canadian properties, whether or not the traveler is an IHG Rewards Club member. Digital checkout has been available worldwide for about two years. 

IHG’s digital check-in process isn’t entirely contactless. First, guests receive a push notification from the IHG app or an email letting them know that they can check in. Once they do and arrive on site, they need to show identification and pick up a room key at the front desk. IHG is piloting the program in other parts of the world and plans to roll out digital check-in to 4,500 hotels and resorts by the end of the year.

IHG brands include InterContinental, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, Regent, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and others.

IHG is far from the first hotel company to embrace mobile check-in technology, and others have taken it further with digital room keys; however, many companies limit the option to members of their loyalty programs. The Hilton Honors app, for example, began giving members the option of a mobile check-in process and digital key as early as 2015, and by 2019 had rolled out the technology to some 4,000 properties. Marriott International, MGM Resorts, and Disney hotels are other brands that offer loyalty members mobile check in and the option of using digital keys at some properties.

Accor, another early adopter of the mobile check-in process, is transitioning to mobile room keys. In February the company announced Accor Key, a keyless door-entry solution, and last week unveiled its first “fully digital hotel,” the Ibis Styles London Gloucester Road. The property features online and mobile check-in, in-hotel payment, a digital-key solution, digital food-and-beverage services, and guest relations via WhatsApp. This hotel is “the first step in an ambitious roll-out plan which will impact at least 50 percent of hotels across all brand segments in North and Central America in the next five years,” the company says.

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