It doesn’t seem that long ago, when we watched science fiction, we all talked about the day that our cars would fly, and everything would be communicated via the airwaves, with no paper involved. In my own field, whenever someone talks about the electronic medical record eliminating paper, I practically convulse with laughter. Has there been a reduction in the paper used in medicine – somewhat, but there is not an elimination of it by any means.
However, on a recent trip to Anchorage, I finally managed to travel without a shred of paper. For years, I have had my boarding pass on my phone. At first, the novelty was intriguing, and while I still see plenty using the old-fashioned paper when boarding, many are now using their phones. It has been a great help in reducing the amount of items needed in hand when getting on the plane, plus my phone is generally easier to read than some of the wrinkled, smashed passes of yesteryear.
My itineraries I have forwarded to Evernote allowing me to access the necessary confirmation numbers and addresses when necessary, eliminating several sheets of paper via this route. My hotel receipts are emailed to me as are my car rental ones, so I have managed to add paperless options to my organization along the way. I check in online for my flight as well as my hotel, eliminating the need to stand in longer lines.
The final step in this process was achieved at my hotel – I was introduced to the Digital Key, an option offered by Hilton hotels. When I checked in online, I was asked if I wanted to use the Digital Key option. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I hastily agreed to that request. I was told that I would not need to go to the front desk to check in or get my key because I had done both of those before ever leaving for the airport.
When I arrived at my hotel, I glanced over at the front desk and made a dash for the elevator, lest anyone stop me en route and keep me captive at the registration desk. As I got off the elevator, I opened my Hilton app on my phone, and beneath my registration, it said “Digital Key requested”. I was afraid that I would have to return to the desk, but soon after pressing the app, this is what appeared on my phone:
It seemed too good to be true, but the next screen told me that my room was unlocked, and it gave me the option to hide my room number from the screen. Like a child with a new toy, I was anxious to try it out in other situations. I was able to open the outside doors previously accessed with a room card. I could open the fitness center and the laundry. Gone were the times that I have left my room card in my room and having to go to the front desk to get another one – like many, I almost always have my phone with me, so it practically negates ever having to go to the desk again for a key. In the past, I have put my room card in the same pocket with my phone only to have my phone erase the room card’s memory – especially frustrating after getting to my room and having to return to the desk because my card would not work.
When I checked out of the hotel, I was happy to tell them to email my receipt – save the paper – you don’t need it to travel anymore!