As ITIF wrote at this time last year in Explaining International Leadership in Contactless Mobile Payments, near-field communications (NFC) technology is a form of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that works over very short distances to enable “contactless” secure financial transactions or exchange of identification information via mobile devices. The report noted how NFC technology is used extensively in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and China in mass transit and to make purchases from vending machines, convenience stores, and even movie theatres, and made the case that the United States lags world leaders considerably in adoption of NFC, in part because of a lack of policies to promote development and adoption of the technology.
Last week, Choice Hotels Scandinavia, in conjunction with access control company Assa Abloy and mobile network operator TeliaSonera announced they had joined forces for a world-first pilot test that will replace hotel room keys with NFC-enabled mobile phones. The pilot is taking place at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm in Sweden and aims to discover how well guests and hotel employees take to the idea of using NFC for a variety of hotel services.
In the pilot, guests will be provided with telephones equipped with NFC technology. They’ll be able to reserve their rooms and receive confirmation on the devices, will have the option of checking in even before arriving at the hotel, and have their electronic room key ready in the phone when they get there.
In essence, guests will be able to bypass hotel check-in entirely, which has the potential to both increase customer convenience and save the hotel (and thus customers) money, while raising productivity all-around. We look forward to reporting on similar pilot tests from U.S. hotels soon!