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Aloft's Smart Check-In Program Is Gaining Serious Momentum. Here's How It Works:

June 6, 2013 at 9:00 AM | by | ()

The back of a sample Aloft Smart Check-In keycard

It turns out that the number of people who check-out of hotels the old-fashioned way is shrinking at an alarming rate. But what about checking in? Are people in such a hurry these days that they can't bear the thought of waiting in line to get their keycard and be told which room is theirs?

In a word, yes. Judging from the popularity of Aloft's smart check-in program, people seriously value convenience over a face-to-face welcome. And the numbers speak for themselves: last month, the program reached 10,000 users, even though only a limited number of Aloft hotels are equipped to use it.

This year, Smart Check-In is set to expand to even more properties all over the world. In case you're considering signing up, here are some fast facts on how the whole thing works.

1. To get the magic keycard, simply sign up with SPG, fill out the application online, and the keycard will show up within 3-4 weeks.

2. The reason we call it "magic" is that the keycard is embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows it to be customized with each guest's personal info and preferences.

3. On the day of your planned stay, a text message will be sent to you with your room number so you can skip the check-in desk and head straight to your room upon arrival. (Though if texting isn't an option, the hotel can email it too.)

4. Worried about missing out on an upgrade? Starwood says most of the card-users are frequent travelers, so they "generally know guests' room preferences in advance." However, should you need to request one, simply call the hotel beforehand, or ask at the front desk.

5. Though the program has taken a while to catch on since it was first announced in 2010, Starwood says it has finally "perfected the program" and "worked through potential flaws" in order to implement Smart Check-In across all Aloft hotels by the end of 2013.

Are you a Smart Check-In user? Has it made your life easier, or is it just another card weighing down your wallet? Share your experience in the comments below, or send us an email!

[Photo: Aloft Hotels]

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