Singapore-based hotel chain SilverNeedle has developed a ground-breaking app that lets guests use their smartphones to open hotel rooms, check in and out, and pay bills.
The Next app, as it is called, is one of the first in the world to offer such a service.
It can be used in SilverNeedle's Next Hotel in Brisbane, Australia.
Mr Sudhir Abdul Rahman, SilverNeedle's senior vice-president of information services, told The Straits Times: "This app lets our guests, who are mainly business travellers, bypass our front desk and avoid waiting in line to get service."
Guests book rooms online, then download the app on to an iPhone or Android device and manage their entire stay.
The app can be used as a "virtual" door key: A guest clicks on the app, waits for a tone and then places the phone next to the door handle. The door opens when a light on the handle turns from amber to green.
SilverNeedle spent about $300,000 to develop the app together with American hotel lighting firm Fingi and Singapore IT vendor iOneSoft. Fingi provided lighting control technology for the smartphone while iOneSoft added other innovative features.
These include letting guests check in and out, order room service and pay bills from their smartphones.
Guests can also use the app to change room temperature, manage lighting and switch off the TV. "On hot days, guests can turn down the room temperature on their way back to the hotel.
"They can also order room service, which will be ready by the time they reach their rooms," said Mr Sudhir.
He stressed that if guests prefer to interact with staff, they can. The app also frees up hotel employees to better engage guests and provide better service, he added.
SilverNeedle will release the app for the Next Hotel in Colombo and gradually roll it out to its other properties.
Apart from Next Hotels, SilverNeedle's brands include the Chifley and Sage hotels in Asia. It also has independently owned, branded luxury boutique hotels and resorts.
This article was first published on Dec 18, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.