Digital Hotel Key

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:

  1. 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 🙁
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Digital Key
Digital Key

Stand by door
Stand by door

Touch to Unlock
Touch to Unlock

Unlocking
Unlocking

Unlocked
Unlocked

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