Mobile keyless entry has achieved nearly universal awareness in the hotel industry today, yet paradoxically the penetration of mobile key remains almost exclusively the domain of the brand giants such as Hilton, Marriott and Starwood. There are a number of factors that explain this – principally a lack of understanding around how mobile keyless entry works, what’s required for hotels to implement mobile key and how much of an investment is required.
One thing is certain – mobile keyless entry is not for every hotel. Mobile key offers a great many benefits for sure, such as the ability to check guests in remotely, issue a secure digital key directly to their smartphone and allow them to bypass the front desk check-in line – going directly to their room upon arrival. The benefits of this from a guest perspective are obvious, and research has shown a 7 point improvement in social media scores from guests using digital key over traditional keycards. And it’s also true that every BLE (bluetooth low energy) digital lock required for mobile keyless entry maintains the RFID function to work with plastic keycards.
So why is mobile key not ideal for every hotel? The answer lies in the reason for implementing mobile key in the first place. Mobile key is a great way to improve the guest experience at a property. It can also be integrated with an existing hotel app or have guest services such as room service, valet, housekeeping requests, etc added to the mobile key. Mobile key often costs about half what a plastic RFID keycard does also, providing another cost benefit for hoteliers. But those are all reasons to go with mobile key. The top reason not to go with hotel mobile key is to save money on your plastic magstripe keycards.
Most hotels in the U.S. today still have ancient magstripe locks on their guestroom doors. This is understandable since door locks have a lifespan of about 20 years. The truth is that most hotels put their magstripe locks in decades ago and these locks are starting to fail both mechanically and technically. The likelihood of you checking in to a hotel with magstripe locks, hauling your luggage to your room only to find that your plastic keycard doesn’t work because it has been demagnetised is about 20%. Let’s hope it’s the other guy that has to go all the way back to the front desk for another keycard likely to fail instead of you.
Mobile Keys Enhance the Guest Experience, Improve Satisfaction
Hospitality thrives on brand loyalty that’s fostered by flawless guest service. A satisfying stay leaves your guests excited to visit you again. On the flip side, even the slightest negative experience with a hotel can leave a lasting bad taste in a guest’s mouth. A mere five-minute wait can reduce guest satisfaction rates by as much as 50%. This is particularly significant in the age of social media and online reviews, where a single negative experience can spread like wildfire and damage your brand.
Hoteliers are watching the big brands and their global mandates for implementing digital key very closely – and the discussion is rapidly shifting to whether your hotel can afford not to switch to a mobile key platform, either now or in the near future. Mobile keys keep your guests satisfied, room entry convenient but secure, and team members focused on essential day-to-day operations while lowering labor costs. In other words, a mobile key solution like OpenKey may be the competitive advantage your hotel needs to compete going forward.