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At Starwood hotels, smartphones will be room keys

Oh, no. You lost your hotel room key.

That might not be a problem in the future.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the hotel giant whose brands include Sheraton, Westin, W and Aloft, is testing out new technology that enables guests to check in and open their rooms with a smartphone.

If all goes well, some hotel guests won’t have to speak to any front desk workers.

Starwood is testing the technology in the next few months at the Aloft Harlem in New York and the Aloft Cupertino west of San Jose. It plans to expand the technology to its W hotels next.

Other hotel companies, such as Marriott International, already allow guests to use smartphones to book rooms and check in but still require a worker at the front desk to hand guests a key.

But the trend toward mobile check-in is on the decline, said Bruce Baltin, a senior vice president for PKF Consulting, because for many things, guests still want to talk to someone face to face.

“The industry has a history of trying to make technology more sophisticated than they need it to be,” he said.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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