Holiday Inn Testing Smartphones To Unlock Guest Rooms

Written by Evan Schuman
May 23rd, 2010

As retailers evaluate practical ways to use mobile payments in-store, they have a new pioneer ally: Holiday Inn. The hotel chain is trialing a program at two Holiday Inns—in Chicago and Houston—where visitors are allowed to use their own smartphones to open their rooms. Hotel guests go to the Web and download an app the chain calls Open Ways. “Guests ultimately will call up the confirmation E-mail on their smartphone and hold it up to a sensor on the door to unlock it,” a USA Today story said.

The advantages are the elimination of going to the front desk to pick up and return the key, plus the convenience of not having to carry anything else. This trial could be key—pun not intended—to helping retailers eventually use the smartphones for authentication and payment. The more consumers get used to the idea of phones for authentication, but not necessarily for payment (door access at a hotel, to borrow books at the local library, to access a private gym, to pick up a package at the Post Office, etc.), the easier it will be to get them to use the phones for payment.


2 Comments | Read Holiday Inn Testing Smartphones To Unlock Guest Rooms

  1. Robert L Santuci Jr. Says:

    I find this curious. While the number of cell phone users in the United States is estimated to be about 91% of the population, only about 17% (in 2009) in the U.S. are “smart phones”. And even if all cell phones migrate to be smart phones, not all the population will have one. So two systems of entry will be needed where only one in required currently. Seems to be an added expense with little or no ROI.

  2. Hugh Jabbawls Says:

    The ROI will come over time given the expense of replacing plastic cards. The real gotcha is that the simple card key is just that – simple. A cool concept but in the end, widespread use is probably not attainable – hence a novelty.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.