InterContinental Hotels Group next month will begin testing new technology at two Holiday Inns that lets guests use their smartphones to unlock their hotel-room door, Hotel Check-In has learned. IHG figures that many guests today already carry smartphones and some would enjoy the freedom to avoid the front desk.

“The holy grail item for us is to simplify the room-key hand-off moment at the hotel,” IHG exec Bryson Koehler told me Friday. IHG thinks that the smartphone just might be the answer. “The proliferation of smartphones is growing in such a way that we have to look at what people are already bringing with them to make their stay more enjoyable,” he said. “We don’t need to burden people with additional items; it just clutters up their lives. The beauty of the smart phone is that they’ve already got it.”

Starwood is taking a different path. At its Aloft Hotel in Lexington, Mass., where the company tests various new technologies, Starwood earlier this year gave participating travelers an Aloft-branded card that contains radio frequency identification, or RFID technology, to unlock doors. (Read more here.)

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