Smartphone applications are quickly gaining popularity amongst some of the biggest hotel franchises across the world. Major franchises including the Marriott Group, Sheraton, Hilton, etc. are all integrating popular features like check-in & checkout, room service, housekeeping, and mobile room keys with their local mobile apps.
Business Insider UK reported back in 2017 that offering hospitality mobile apps increase revenue and also deliver a more personalized experience for every guest. In 2014, Starwood Hotels became the first franchise to introduce a fully functional mobile room key system to their hotels. Today, SPG Keyless technology powers over 160 Starwood hotels across 30 countries, the franchise is now part of the Marriott Group.
“Mobile access control makes identity and credentials management much easier than cards. You can activate and deactivate mobile phone IDs”,
Brett St. Pierre, Director of Education Solutions, HID Global
Why Use Mobile Room Keys at Hotels
If we look back at history, the once revered plastic key card was a brilliant revelation to the world of hospitality. Over time we got to experience that although they are reliable & cheap, they are prone to risks like loss, theft, cyberhacking, and demagnetizing. In addition, these cards must be disposed of with care increasing disposal costs and waste at hotels.
The recent boom in Bluetooth, NFC, and internet-enabled room keys has been a definite winner for hospitality with large hotel chains announcing immediate conversions to keyless entry. Much of the migration to this technology is attributed to business travelers and premium members of loyalty programs.
Hotel technology solution provider Hetras identified five reasons to integrate mobile keys at hotels:
- Saves guests time during check-in, stay, and checkout
- Saves hotels significant costs in programming, tracking and replacement costs of plastic cards
- Keyless entry personalizes guest expereince, making re-bookings easier
- Mobile key apps offer data synchronization to cloud PMS systems allowing hotels to deliver improved service to returning guests.
- The key is always in guests smartphones, encrypted to ensure no one can access the digital key and cannot be transfered to another device.
3 Benefits of Implementing Mobile Room Keys in Hotels
Major technology giants like Samsung, Sony, Ericsson, etc. and service providers alike have one specific projection in common, the smartphone will drive customer experience by 2020. Even popular technology thinktanks & researchers estimate that there will be over 6 billion smartphone users across the world by 2021.
Hotel businesses remain busy integrating their services into simple and accessible mobile apps that define the customer journey with a great deal of personalization. Anyone who has experienced the holiday season knows how enduring check-in, payments, and plastic cards can be.
A simple mobile app can help quickly onboard the guest and check them into their room. And, even better without having to wait for programmed plastic keys that can be lost and hacked. Furthermore, mobile room keys offer hotels great sustainability and save massive operating costs that directly affect revenue.
Here are three major benefits of using mobile room keys in hotels for enhanced guest security management.
Instantly Reduce Costs
The most obvious benefit of implementing a keyless entry system for hotels is its cost-effectiveness. Mobile apps or keyless entry systems have a single cost when they are initially developed, afterward, all they require is activation and deactivation.
Vintage plastic entry cards accompany printing, programming, replacement, theft & loss, and hacking costs, some of which can be considerable. A mobile key system may feel expensive in the short run, but in the long run, it brings significant efficiencies and cost savings that are directly reflected in the guest experience.
Plastic card readers also require routine maintenance, where every faulty door sensor must be individually inspected & repaired. A bluetooth or internet based keyless room system requires a simple upgrade. These upgrades can be performed by the app developer or your official hotel data security provider.
“Hoteliers should work with a provider that they can trust to determine what additional hardware is needed, such as if a complete replacement of door lock components is necessary or if a mere addition of a [Bluetooth Low Energy] reader is all that is required,”
– Nicolas Aznar, president of Assa Abloy Hospitality
Remarkable Guest Experiences
As we discussed above about the inconveniences of being stuck in a lobby and waiting to check-in, the mobile room key technology is a blessing for any traveler. Not only will mobile entry systems have a positive effect on guest experience, but it will also encourage them to recommend the hotel to others.
Guests can conveniently use mobile apps complete the check-out, personalize their stay, unlock their rooms, pay their bills, and checkout with complete control. This vast customization of their experience at the hotel will eventually lead to astonishing guest reviews on social platforms, travel blogs, and booking websites.
The interoperability of mobile apps with hotel cloud PMS can further provide staff the ability to deliver services faster and have the latest information on guest preferences. Guests can not only use their mobile key apps for entry but even control temperature and order room service with it.
After the multiple instances of security failures of plastic cards and their access systems, the mobile key is a phenomenal upgrade that addresses both cyber & physical security of hotel guests.
The latest trend of professional technology management at hotels is completely changing the way hotel owners look at security. A professional hotel technology manager carefully analyzes the tech infrastructure and suggests owners about the various areas of concern.
Mobile keys are always with the guest and have close to no chance of being physically stolen. The use of cutting edge biometric recognition technology makes it close to impossible for guests to lose their room access.
A highly secure mobile access system is also essential to address the growing needs of privacy among millennial travelers. Encryption, beta testing, and real-time monitoring are all essential to ensure a flawless guest experience.
Hotel owners need to understand here that implementing a secure and highly efficient mobile room key system demands uniformity and reliability. Since such a system requires access to hotel PMS and 3rd party software, it should be contracted to a trustworthy hotel technology company that can manage the entire service with utmost security.
As smartphone technology evolves we can expect much more than just mobile room keys to enhance the guest experience. Mobile will deliver opportunities to reach out to over 6 billion people, provide faster holiday & room bookings, add more touch points for revenue, and offer even more personalization for guests.
I hope you enjoyed our brief introduction to mobile room key technology. If you are interested get in touch with our expert technology consultants to learn more about integrating keyless entry in your hotel. For more interesting reads, and hotel technology ideas remember to subscribe to our newsletter.