What if checking into a hotel were as easy as picking up a rental car? A bellhop would greet you at the curb, swipe your credit card on a handheld device, give you a key, and send you to your room.

A pilot program involving this new technology (known as “point-of-activity computing”), manufactured by Symbol Technologies, has just been completed at the Sheraton Parsippany (N.J.). Danny Hudson, vice president of distributed systems for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., says that guests liked the concept, but decisions about who will use the technology and how it will be used will be up to individual properties.

Other hotel chains looking at the technology include Wyndham, Philips Hotel Group, and Opryland, says Symbol's director of hospitality and gaming, John Harker.