How'd you like to get out of standing in line at the front desk to check in? If Symbol Technologies, Holtsville, N.Y., has anything to say about it, guests will soon be able to check into a Starwood Hotels property by having a bellman swipe your credit card on a Palm-like device — and hand you a key. A successful pilot program involving this new technology has just been completed at the Sheraton Parsippany in New Jersey.

The device includes a two-way radio, a scanner, a magnetic-stripe credit-card reader, and a wireless connection to a printer. It is simple to use and rugged enough to withstand repeated drops on concrete; it comes with extended-life batteries that last the duration of an eight-hour shift.

Wyndham, Philips Hotel Group, and Opryland are looking into the product as well, says Symbol's director of hospitality and gaming John Harker. “The hospitality industry is an emerging market for mobile wireless technology; once one company goes, the rest go.” Harker believes the curbside check-in will eventually become a standard in the hospitality business, and for a good reason: greater operational efficiency.