Marriott Told Us Mobile Room Keys Will Keep Us Safe, Then Delayed Roll Out Of Mobile Room Keys

Last week Marriott laid out its plan to assure guests a clean environment when they return to travel. Among other measures this includes increased frequency of cleaning high touch surfaces placing disinfecting wipes in all guest rooms.

Marriott emphasized that they have 3300 hotels active with mobile room keys and more being added. This means not having to check in at the front desk with an employee, or having the employee handle your room key. Instead you check in with your phone, and use your phone as a room key.

That’s great, and Marriott is proud of how widespread this feature is (though not yet at half of their hotels). What they didn’t tell you, it turns out, is that they’ve actually pushed back the roll out of this technology at hotels which don’t currently offer it.

Even as they’re using the feature to tell guests it’ll be safe to travel, they’re delaying the implementation so that it will be more than a year before this is fully available to reduce expenses for hotels.

Marriott confirmed this,

We now offer mobile key at 3,300 properties and the number will continue to grow throughout the year. We are committed to full implementation across the portfolio. Given the current economic situation, however, we are giving owners and franchisees added flexibility to deploy through July of next year.

Maybe some of those Bonvoy devaluation dollars could be used to fund keyless? And stop making guests share toiletry dispensers – and indeed stop lobbying to make single use bottles illegal.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How about a functional IT? Some of the billions in buybacks would have been nice to invest there instead.

  2. What is funny is that whenever @Gary ranks hotel loyalty programs, he invariably puts BonVoY ahead of Hilton honors, even though (a) everyone knows that to be a joke and (b) as is clear in this post, he has not had much good to say about BonVoY other than constantly claiming, against all evidence to the contrary, that BonVoY is “better” than HHonors.

    We well, let me just borrow a passage from OMAAT that further emphasizes how bogus the ranking claim is. In a post about Hilton’s recently launched “CleanStay initiative”, there was this bit about Hilton use of “its award-winning Digital Key technology” to increase guest safety:

    “Contactless Check-In: Hilton will double-down on *its award-winning Digital Key technology* for guests who desire to have a contactless arrival experience. Guests can check-in, choose their room, access their room with a digital room key and check-out using their mobile devices through the Hilton Honors mobile app at participating hotels. Hilton will continue to expand its Digital Key capabilities to common doors and access points throughout the hotels.”

    How many Hilton properties now have Digital Key?
    “Hilton has installed Digital Key for Honors members at more than 4,250 of its 5,700 properties worldwide over the past five years, said Nigel Glennie, a Hilton spokesman.”
    -NY Times, 24 July 2019


  3. I don’t understand how coronavirus hasn’t put a stop to the nonsense of toiletry dispensers. Every scientific study has said these things are unsafe. We know coronavirus and other diseases/germs can live on surfaces for multiple days. Why is Marriott still pursuing dispensers? I stayed at a hotel for two nights last week. The first day I had toiletries. The second day the dispensers were installed while I away from my room. Front desk told me they’ve been doing this room-by-room, floor-by-floor for 3 weeks.

  4. Marriott should use this time to invest in better keyless technology. Hilton’s is so much better. I can be walking down the hall and unlock my room with Hilton’s system. I’ve had to go back down to get a key card so many times because the Marriott keyless tech didn’t work. Aggravating.

  5. Keyless technology is a wasted investment, current key cards are easy to sanitise! Use the money saved to sanitize rooms and pay housekeepers more!!!Replace single use plastic shower gels with small good quality bars of soap.

  6. Endless clown show from this dumb company. Finally cancelled the Amex card today and even the rep agreed it’s the worst designed card out there. Bonvoy will go down as one of the worst rebrandings ever.

    But yeah hold out for those nonexistent mobile keys

  7. Keyless tech is the best! I’ve been loyal to Hilton for over two years because of it! You can filter out Hotels that don’t offer it when you search, and the system sends a key when the room you picked is marked ready. I think the problem with Marriott and Hyatt is, the front desk has to send the key, not the system. So most times you try to use it there, they either don’t know how to send it, or don’t want to. Hyatt has no idea how theirs works, I’ve tried it 3 times and each time it said visit front desk, customer support and front desk agents said it shouldn’t do that and they don’t know why. So I gave up on them. (They have a list of digital key locations in their app is why I tried it)

  8. @dcs everyone has their own preference, I prefer hilton and stay with them 100+ nights a year because they are way ahead in digital check in and key. But all the other hotel programs have slightly different perks that might be more relevant to them. You can say Hilton is the best, and I would agree, but others may not, and that’s okay! Maybe he really likes one of the more consistent perks on the Marriott program, I say consistent because most hotels are owned by local business owners, the guy that owns a Fairfield may own the Hampton beside it, and share employees if the need arises. That’s why I think Hilton shines in that they took the digital check in into their own hands, and not the hands of the random front desk employee!

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