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by Matt Alderton | November 04, 2014
The race to deploy mobile room keys at hotels is on: Yesterday, Hilton Worldwide announced its plan to deploy mobile-enabled room keys beginning in late spring 2015. Its announcement came only a few hours after Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide revealed its own mobile room key plans.

Although Starwood was the first to deploy mobile room keys -- they're already available at 10 Starwood hotels, and will be rolled out to 150 hotels by early 2015 -- Hilton was the first to reveal its plans when it announced a new digital check-in experience in July. Already available at 3,700 hotels, and by the end of the year at all Hilton properties, the new process allows members of Hilton's HHonors loyalty program to check in via their smartphone, tablet, or computer, and to choose their preferred room when they do so.

Beginning next spring, with continued rollout throughout 2015, the digital check-in process will expand to encompass room keys: HHonors members staying at U.S. properties of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, and Canopy by Hilton brands will be able to use their smartphone to unlock and access their rooms, enabling them to bypass the front desk entirely for a completely digital, totally self-directed check-in process.

"Our mobile room key technology gives our guests greater choice and control over their entire experience," said Geraldine Calpin, global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide. "Never before has a hotel guest been able to check-in, select their room from a digital floor plan, request items to be ready upon arrival, and then access their room via their smartphone and find it exactly the way they requested it. We're truly revolutionizing travel by making the stay experience more convenient."

Hilton plans to pilot mobile room keys at 10 U.S. properties early next year, after which it will begin enabling them at all Conrad hotels in the United States. Rollout will continue at Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, and Canopy hotels beginning in summer 2015, and will be available globally across all Hilton brands by the end of 2016.

"We are providing guests with the digital tools they desire. We expect high adoption of mobile room key, just as we've seen with room selection," Calpin continued. "We are reshaping the way guests dream, book, and stay with us -- helping earn their loyalty and affinity for our brands."