Road Warrior

HotelTonight adds keyless entry, mobile check-in to app

New features on the HotelTonight app include a keyless room entry option.
Source: HotelTonight

HotelTonight, a last-minute mobile-only booking app, has added keyless entry and mobile check-in features that will likely become a routine part of the travel experience within five or 10 years, CEO Sam Shank said Wednesday.

The experimental features were introduced as part of the Google I/O developers conference. HotelTonight is one of the companies capitalizing on the trend for mobile in travel, as its booking and other features are only available through an app.

"What was seen as a niche has become more mainstream," Shank said in an interview with CNBC.

The 3-year-old company now has 10,000 hotel partners in more than 400 destinations in 27 countries, compared with only 100 destinations in 12 countries one year ago. HotelTonight has logged more than 10 million downloads of its free app, which is available on iOS, Android and Windows devices.

The company has raised more than $80 million in funding through partners including Coatue Management, U.S. Venture Partners, Battery Ventures and others.

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A few independent hotels have already enabled the HotelTonight express check-in feature, but Shank declined to identify them by name.

"They're in the alpha stage of this as well," he said.

The feature lets customers check in to their room with just two taps on the app, which notifies them when the room is ready. For now, they'll still need to pick up the keys.

The keyless entry option on the app still requires buy-in from individual hotels, which will need to install hardware in their doors to work with the HotelTonight app, Shank said. The keyless entry function in the app was created by Brivo Labs.

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Starwood launches mobile check-in

Earlier this year, Starwood announced that two of its Aloft-branded hotels, in Harlem in New York and Silicon Valley in California, were testing keyless entry. Other hotels have said they are examining the technology for future use.

Read MoreHotels testing keyless entry via smartphone app

The trend toward mobile technology in travel continues to grow, according to a survey released Monday by Smith Micro. It found that 62 percent of travelers who are smartphone and tablet users would prefer to purchase or reserve hotel services through their mobile device.

Check-in and check-out was the most sought after mobile feature, according to the survey.

—By CNBC's Amy Langfield. Follow Road Warrior on Twitter at @CNBCtravel