The key to the future of hotel booking (in a manner of speaking) might lie in new technologies being developed by BMW. The company is researching a way to allow drivers to book a hotel room from their car's navigation system, be directed to the hotel and then proceed straight to their rooms where they can then unlock their hotel room doors using a chip in their car key.
Before you start counting the ways this can go wrong, read on. BMW has been working with electronic lock and safe company VinCard Elsafe and Micros property management systems to create the new mode of booking, which works through near-field communications (NFC) – which is short-range wireless technology. Hopefully it can't be remotely scanned.
Drivers will be prompted to enter their credit card information into their navigation systems(one time only). BMW's navigation system will then use Google to detect nearby hotels, generating a list for the driver. The system will connect to the hotel reservation system, which enables guests to book and pay for the room from the car. At this point, drivers must confirm their identity by entering a personal identification number. A credit card clearing company handles the invoicing and the hotel is notified that the reservation is guaranteed. It sounds complicated, but the entire process will only take a few taps on a screen.
The hotel room assignment is then sent back to the car, where drivers can press a button on their navigation system that directs to the hotel. Their car key, which is equipped with NFC, will then receive an access code to the guest room. Guests have no reason to check in at the desk; they can go straight to their room where VinCard Elsafe locks, which are NFC-enabled, will let them in with the swipe of a key.
There was some buzz about the research in April, but a press release from VinCard Elsafe confirms that development is underway. Whether or not this will be a universal system or brand specific remains to be seen. Still, as they say, what man can invent, man can defeat and somewhere there's a 10 year-old who's reading this and already has an inkling of how to access the data. Of that much you can be certain.––Paul Duchene