While on a trip to Destin, FL USA (first time) my wife and I stayed at an Embassy Suites (Hilton brand) hotel. It was a nice hotel, staff were friendly and it was convenient for our trip. I was excited to see the beautiful Destin beaches, but I have to admit that I was almost more excited to try out a mobile feature at a hotel which I had not yet been able to use – a Digital Key. Yes, the Embassy Suites at Miramar Beach was equipped to offer a digital key via the HHonors app. I took advantage of the app to check-in, choose our room and then accepted the digital key. I was ready!
Digital Key Experience
Overall my experience using the digital key was great. It started with a few pains though…to activate the digital key I had to go to the Front Desk and request help. Ultimately they needed to “verify my credit card” by swiping it. A little odd, but once it was activated (which took a few minutes) it was very useful. While I did also request a physical key I never used it. I was able to unlock outside doors (post 10pm) and my room door with ease.
The advantages of the digital key for hotel guests are a bit obvious, but I’ll detail a few from my perspective:
- No need to request new physical cards or have them re-programmed because they’ve stopped working. I recall a recent stay at a Marriott in Virginia Beach, VA USA – I had just finished a workout routine at the gym (on the first floor). I took the elevator to my floor and when I attempted to unlock the door I get the unfortunate red light on the door lock indicating the key card did not work. This was particularly frustrating because I had to go to the Front Desk in the main Lobby after having been in the gym for 45 minutes. Not cool 🙁
- Related to the aforementioned benefit I did not go through the typical shaming by hotel employees when requesting a new or re-programmed key card (“did you have it near your wallet or any magnetic devices?”). When you just need a key and not an accusation the digital key option is fantastic.
- Super convenient. I always have my phone, I don’t need to get the digital key re-programmed at any moment during the stay, I don’t lose the key, I won’t worry about leaving it behind at check-out, etc.
The only thing which could have made it better was a more seamless integration with my stay. In other words, having to “check-in”, as it were, to activate the digital key defeated part of the convenience. I imagine a stay in which I’m able to check-in on my mobile device, choose my room, and activate my digital key without interacting with a human being. I arrive to the hotel and just walk to my room. That would be nice. For now, I have to congratulate Hilton on what they’ve done, it truly was a good experience and look forward to the next time I’m able to use the Digital Key.