5 Factors to Consider When Upgrading To Mobile Keyless Entry

5 Factors to Consider When Upgrading To Mobile Keyless Entry

With the onset of new IoT technologies, the travel and hospitality industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation. New technologies and solutions can make it difficult to make sense of what’s right for your hotel and equally important for your guests.

Some of the hardest decisions hoteliers face include deciding if upgrading to new tech solutions such as mobile keyless entry is worth the time and investment.

As a hotelier debating tech upgrades, you’ve probably asked yourself questions like “Will this work for my hotel?”  “Will our customers want to use this?” and “Can we afford the time to train hotel staff?” These are all valid questions you should be asking yourself prior to committing to such an upgrade. To help answer these pressing questions, we’ve put together 5 important factors to consider when upgrading your hotel to mobile keyless entry.

Perhaps the best place to start is identifying what exactly is required for a hotel to evolve from a traditional plastic keycard solution to digital key access.  Mobile key requires a guestroom lock that is capable of communicating with a smartphone (or smartwatch), and that communication is best enabled via Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a communication standard resident in nearly every smartphone produced in the last 10 years.

Many hotel lock manufacturers offer a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) upgrade for their RFID products.  Many hotels still have magstripe locks that cannot be upgraded by the manufacturer. OpenKey offers a Universal BLE Upgrade Module that can be used to add mobile key capability to any hotel guestroom lock.


Are your existing locks falling off the doors?  Have they become a maintenance nightmare? If so, you probably want to replace them.  Nearly all hotels being built today are installing RFID locks that are Bluetooth Enabled – which means the lock has everything it needs to be used for mobile keyless entry.  If your hotel has RFID locks today, you likely have the option of upgrading to BLE with a module from the lock manufacturer.

Most hotels still have magstripe locks – and many of those have years of usable life left in them.  To solve the issue of upgrading magstripe locks to BLE while still maintaining the plastic keycard capability, OpenKey created the Universal BLE Upgrade Module.  The module will upgrade any hotel lock to work with keyless entry at a fraction of the cost of a new lock.


According to Deloitte Consulting LLP’s 2017 hotel guest experience survey, only 65 percent of respondents feel a hotel truly knows them.  Knowing your guest preferences and needs is the basis for delivering the next generation of customer experience.

Mobile keyless entry should help you create a more personalized stay experience for your guests.  Hotels can integrate digital key capability within an existing branded app to incentivize guest loyalty like what Hilton and Marriott have done or it can be used in a stand-alone app such as the popular OpenKey app.  In either case, the mobile key creates a utility for the guest to engage within the digital environs of a hotel brand with various personalization options that range from loyalty offers specific to the individual to personalized announcements from the hotel staff.

“Adding mobile keyless entry is a perfect example of how hoteliers can innovate and deliver a personalized guest experience” stated Brian Shedd, VP of marketing and sales for OpenKey


Every hotelier wants to deliver value for their guests, and that value can take many forms.  Prior to investing in adding a mobile key to your property, take a minute to understand what value doing so will contribute to your guests and their perceptions of your hotel.

Guest convenience and security are two aspects that keyless entry has a big impact on.  Mobile key provides the capability for guests to check-in remotely and skip the front desk line upon arriving at the hotel.  Keyless entry is also the safest form of room access available with multi-factor authentication required to gain access to a guestroom vs the rather insecure option of a plastic keycard.

Both of those will be interpreted as adding significant value to your hotel by the majority of travelers, however; if your hotel is popular with an older demographic and your guests are primarily over the age of 70, you may want to hold back on investing in technology that utilizes smartphones as this guest segment still prefers the ‘flip’ phone and likely won’t have Bluetooth functionality. Younger guests tend to be more tech-savvy, and having tech-friendly amenities may set you apart from the competition.


One of the most common barriers to adoption of mobile key platforms and Bluetooth locks is the cost of replacing or upgrading existing door locks. Additionally, hoteliers are wary of the challenges involved in replacing existing locks due to the concern over “future-proof” features of new locks. Today’s hoteliers want to make sure that the significant investment they make in upgrading their existing hardware will remain viable in the years ahead.

Luckily, hotels with magstripe or older RFID locks can use OpenKey’s Universal BLE Upgrade Module to add Bluetooth capability to their existing locks while maintaining the plastic keycard functionality.


Guests will return to a hotel that provides them with an experience that matches their expectations and needs.  Smartphones have become a part of that expectation and hotels are using the device to deliver a better experience in nearly every area.  Guest retention can often require understanding where frontline personnel can add to a guests’ experience and when they should not be part of the process.  Keyless entry provides hoteliers with one more option along that spectrum to drive guest satisfaction and repeat visitation.

“Digital Key is the latest technology for a more efficient arrival experience.” Reggie Piercy, SVP of operations, Vision Hospitality Group recently shared with Hotel News Now. “We are finding that our front line associates can spend more time assisting guests with local information and attractions. This has increased guest satisfaction scores for the arrival-experience metric as the hotel front-office team serves more as a concierge than as a financial transaction touch point for the guest stay.”


Technology is changing nearly every aspect of our lives and smartphones have become our digital connection to the world around us.  The ‘smart hotel room’ is becoming a reality – and it will be controlled by the guests’ digital device. The question of keyless entry in the hotel industry is not one of ‘if’ but ‘when’ – and the answer to that lies with knowing your guests and what to expect from this evolution in room access and guest engagement.

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