Holiday Inn has been testing its Mobile Room Key program at it's properties in Houston and Chicago, and plans to expand it at other locations soon.
The program allows guests to bypass the front desk entirely and use their mobile phones as keys. Guests get an email or text prior to arrival that provides them with a room number and a toll-free number. Dialing the number produces an audio chirp that unlocks the door via an audio reader on the lock. Because it's audio and not visual, any phone, smartphone or otherwise, works.
There are other companies working of new ways to streamline the check-in process. One company has developed a registration process where front desk personnel can scan a guest's ID that can will fill in forms and minimize manual entry. The company is working with Accor to implement the technology in Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties across North America.