Instagram is about to hit you with ads whether you Like them or not

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The iPhone just made room keys obsolete at Starwood hotels

The dream of replacing all the pieces of plastic in your wallet with your smartphone got a little closer to reality today as Starwood hotels announced that its new keyless entry system – SPG Keyless – is rolling out to hotels worldwide. Guests…Read more ›



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Starwood Begins First Phase of Mobile Phone Hotel Room Key Rollout With 10 Properties

Following an initial pilot program at a pair of its properties, hotel chain Starwood today announced the official launch of its SPG Keyless program that will allow hotel guests to use their iPhones or Android phones to check in for their stays and unlock their doors via Bluetooth. The system will go live this Wednesday in ten hotels around the world under Starwood’s Aloft, Element, and W brands and expand to 150 hotel comprising 30,000 hotel room doors by the end of next year.

SPG Members must register their phone once through the SPG App and allow push notifications. After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel and approximately 24 hours before arrival, SPG members are invited to opt-in to SPG Keyless. Guests will receive a push notification noting that they are checked in and the SPG App will update with his/her room number and Bluetooth key when the room is ready. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room. After ensuring his/her Bluetooth is enabled, the guest simply opens the SPG App, holds the smartphone to the door lock, waits for the solid green light and enters the room.

Starwood’s SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts app [Direct Link] has been updated today to support the iPhone check-in program, which is going live at hotels in Beijing, Cancun, Cupertino, Harlem, Doha, Hollywood, Hong Kong, New York City, and Singapore.

Starwood is not the only hotel chain working on phone-based room keys, with Hilton previously announcing its intentions for a similar program including check-in and room selection via app available in 4,000 hotels by the end of this year and and mobile phone room keys rolling out in 2015. And just today Hilton has reiterated those plans, announcing pilot testing of room keys early next year with an initial rollout to its Conrad brand soon after and expansion to additional brands coming in the summer.




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Apple’s Mobile Payments Initiative May Include Rewards Program

Apple may be developing a rewards program as part of its mobile payments initiative, reports Bank Innovation. Apple is reportedly working on a pilot program that will see it developing partnerships with multiple retailers, which goes hand in hand with several previous loyalty program rumors. A proprietary rewards program could give Apple a way to distinguish itself from other mobile payment services.

According to sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans, the company has been in talks with InterContinental Hotels Group (seemingly incorrectly referred to as „IGH International“ in the report), a global hotel chain, about a possible partnership for a loyalty program and has been hiring to fill positions related to the pilot program, which may be built into iTunes.

Bank Innovation specifically points towards an Apple job opening seeking a „Senior World Wide Partner Marketing Manager,“ who will create programs and training materials for „external partners“ and who will focus on driving customer adoption of „existing and new features.“ Other similar job postings also hint at the development of a major program focused on third-party partnerships, which may be a loyalty program.

The site suggests that the company is just now beginning to hire for the division, which means a possible loyalty program is unlikely to be available right when its payments service launches.

Sources close to Apple say the company has just started hiring for this division, and that, before the recent high-profile iCloud hack, the plan was to announce the pilot on Tuesday along with Apple’s other announcements. That very well may happen, or the announcement could be postponed until a later date – when more deals are in place and the mainstream media moves on from the iCloud cyberattack. Since Apple’s hiring for positions for this program now, but we don’t expect this program to be fully ready in the near future.

If a rewards program is indeed in the works, it appears to be in the early stages. There’s no word yet on the scope of the program or how it might work, but more information may be revealed tomorrow, when Apple unveils its mobile payments initiative for the first time.

Rumors about Apple’s payment plans have been leaking out in recent weeks, and the company has reportedly signed deals with major credit card companies including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, as well as major credit card issuers. Apple is also said to be partnering with multiple retailers for the service, including Walgreens, CVS, and Nordstrom.

Apple’s payment service is said to rely on NFC, which will be built into both the iPhone 6 and Apple’s upcoming wearable device. It will also integrate with Touch ID for security purposes, and it will take advantage of tokenization to provide additional security and to prevent theft.




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Hilton to Adopt Digital Check-In, Smartphone-Based Room Keys Worldwide

Hilton Worldwide, a company that operates thousands of hotels around the globe, today announced plans to roll out new mobile-based check-in and room selection tools, as well as digital smartphone-based room keys.

Hilton guests will be able to select their rooms online using their smartphones, which will be able to display floor plans for each available room. Guests will also be able to check-in/check-out using their smartphones, as well as purchase upgrades and make special requests for item deliveries.

Room selection: At 6 a.m. the day before a booked stay, Hilton HHonors members can sign into their account via their mobile device, tablet or computer to check-in and choose their preferred room through floor plan maps or lists populated from the hotel’s available inventory. Photos of rooms are also available to help with their selection. Hilton’s digital lobby function is updated in real-time, so guests no longer have to wait until they are physically in the hotel lobby to be assigned a room.

While Hilton’s new service is limited to check-ins and room selection at the current time, next year the hotel chain plans to allow guests to unlock their hotel rooms with their smartphones.

Hilton is planning to roll out its digital enhancements to select hotels during the summer and the fall, and by the end of 2014, smartphone-based check-ins and room selection will be available for more than 650,000 rooms across 4,000 hotels. The technology that allows smartphones to be used as room keys will begin rolling out in 2015, with wide availability in 2016.

Hilton is not the first hotel chain to begin allowing guests to enter their hotel rooms with their smartphones, as Starwood Hotels & Resorts implemented a pilot program to test the technology earlier this year. Hilton’s eventual rollout will be much larger, however, and it also includes the aforementioned tools for personalized room selections and easy check-ins.




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