Why Hotels Shouldn’t Upgrade to Mobile Keyless Entry

Why hotels Shouldn’t Upgrade to Mobile Keyless Entry

Fundamentally, the hotel industry revolves around the ability to meet guest expectations and create memorable guest experiences. When these expectations are not met or become too complex, guest satisfaction scores can decrease and guest loyalty may be affected.

One of the innovations that hotels are increasingly integrating in an effort to deliver a more personalized and memorable  guest experience is mobile keyless entry.

Keyless entry is made possible via the Bluetooth capability on a guest smartphone that communicates with a ‘smart’ lock that also has Bluetooth capability.  The guest opens the door by simply tapping a key icon on their phone and the guestroom lock is opened with the exchange of a highly secure encrypted digital token.

Sounds simple and effective enough right? So why is mobile keyless entry not an ideal solution for every hotel? The simple answer is that there really is no single hotel tech solution that makes sense for every hotel.  Like the people that developed them, hotels have a number of unique characteristics that range from the markets they are located in to the decor, amenities offered and type(s) of customer they serve.

Mobile Key May Not Fit Your Stay Experience

When we travel, sometimes we’re looking for an experience out of the ordinary.  This might be one reason some guests choose to stay at an airbnb property vs a hotel.  If your hotel has an Old World feel to it that plays well for leisure travellers looking to step back to a simpler time, adding mobile keyless entry might actually detract from the guest experience.  Some resorts make ‘checking in your mobile device’ part of the check-in process itself. Clearly the appeal of these properties is to help guests completely disconnect from technology during their stay.  As you can imagine, keyless entry would be a poor choice in such an environment.

Mobile Key May Not Fit Your Guest Demographic

As mentioned above, mobile keyless entry requires a guest smartphone.  Although by 2020 it is estimated that 92.8 percent of U.S. mobile phone users will own and use a smartphone, some hotels still have a sizeable amount of guests who do not.  Smartphone usage is quickly becoming universal among age demographics, but guests over the age of 70 still have a lower likelihood of owning one compared to a traditional ‘flip style’ phone.  Knowing your guest demographic is clearly an important factor in whether keyless entry makes sense for your hotel.

Upgrading To Mobile Key May Be Too Expensive

Nearly every hotel being built today will have Bluetooth locks, however; the majority of hotels still have either RFID or older magstripe-style locks that will require an upgrade to add Bluetooth capability.  The type of lock you have will determine what options you have to upgrade it. Most RFID locks can be upgraded with a module from the manufacturer to add Bluetooth.  Both RFID and magstripe locks can be upgraded using a Universal BLE Upgrade Module from OpenKey.  Both options come with cost implications that any hotel should consider when looking at evolving to mobile keyless entry.

Mobile Key Isn’t Cheaper Than Keycards

When considering whether to implement keyless entry many hoteliers want to compare the cost to their current keycard expenditure.  Although it seems to make sense to do this, in reality, the comparison is really apples to oranges. Both are methods for the guest to access their room, yes.  But plastic keycards have none of the security features that mobile keyless entry offers, nor do they have the ability to convey the property information that mobile key is capable of.  Mobile key can be used to allow guest to skip the front desk and go straight to their room upon arrival. Clearly plastic keycards don’t offer this option either.

But from a purely financial perspective – comparing mobile keyless entry to plastic keycards will likely deliver a positive ROI if you’re using RFID, but certainly not for magstripe keycards.  The magstripe keycard will continue to be the cheapest form of room access in hotels for quite some time since many hotels don’t pay for them at all in exchange for advertising Domino’s Pizza or other establishment on them.

In Conclusion

Mobile keyless entry isn’t for every hotel.  For all the advantages it offers that range from guest convenience to better security and staffing efficiency, you owe it to your guests to consider the stay experience they want when patronizing your hotel.  There will always be a market for unusual experiences that remind us of the past or allow us to disconnect from the outside world. There will always be a portion of the population that rejects technology and chooses to use analog devices for the simplicity and familiarity of them.  And hoteliers will always need to make smart financial investment choices for their property assets.

That said, mobile keyless entry has become the future of guest experience and room access around the world.  OpenKey is the industry standard for universal mobile key in hotels – and if keyless entry makes sense for your property, they’re ready when you are.

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