The use of mobile devices to access hotel guestrooms has been on the rise for the past several years thanks to the prevalence of smart phones and the growing guest demand for convenient self-service options. For hotel companies making the shift to digital keys, there are several critical considerations in implementing a system that best supports the technology and meets a hotel’s specific needs and goals.
To begin with, there are three things hoteliers should ask themselves when considering digital keys. The answers to these questions are key to effectively deploying the best strategy for upgrading to a mobile access solution.
1. Is the system “future proof”?
Continuous technological advancements and the costs involved in maintaining up-to-date solutions are just a few reasons why installing a “future proof” system is so pivotal. It is also important to consider the legacy technology that the system will need to interface with in order to seamlessly add a mobile solution. A “future proof” system means that only simple hardware additions are needed in order to implement digital key access. In many cases, having a “future proof” locking system in place means there is no need to remove or replace any aspect of the locking mechanism, with only the addition of a small Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) board needed, along with an RFID reader, if not already present. This gives hoteliers the ability to upgrade their door locks in stages, a route that lends itself well to most hotels’ budgets.
With that in mind, hotels need to determine if their current locking system is “future proof” and if their existing security access management software is compatible with mobile access technologies. Specifically, such software needs to be capable of generating and assigning a digital keys to each individual guest. Hotels with this capability can move on seamlessly with an upgrade plan, whereas others will need to devise an upgrade plan for their current locking system.
2. What are the hotel’s options for mobile app integration?
Hoteliers have several choices when it comes to how guests can receive and use digital keys on their smart device. For properties with their own mobile app, mobile access functionality can be integrated alongside other features and services. This can also help increase the chances of the app being used and the likelihood that promotions or other revenue-enhancing services will be used by the guest. For hoteliers using a third party mobile app, working with a locking vendor that maintains certified partnerships with app vendors can ensure seamless integration. If a property simply wants to quickly implement mobile access without additional features, hotels should seek out vendors that provide standalone mobile key solutions or SDKs (software development kits).
3. How can the hotel ensure guest adoption?
Having a strategy in place that can guarantee high guest adoption rates is just as important as the implementation of mobile access itself. While easy to learn and user-friendly, digital keys are still relatively unfamiliar to many guests, as they are not yet mainstream. Properties can overcome this issue by implementing a strategy to actively inform guests about how to use the digital key and inform them of its benefits, such as increased security and convenience, and seamless and immediate room access. Hotel leadership should ensure that staff members are fully knowledgeable and able to demonstrate how the solution works to guests. This can best be accomplished by working with a mobile access provider that gives hoteliers access to consistent, high-quality training and customer support.
Digital keys are clearly paving the way in terms of access technology, and projections show that they will soon become the accepted norm across the globe. Hoteliers wanting to strengthen and maintain their competitive edge need to start planning for and implementing these upgrades now. As traveling consumers grow more and more attached to their smart devices and find new ways to use them in their day-to-day lives, mobile access is destined to become a standard hotel amenity that guests will come to expect anywhere they stay – just as WiFi has today.
About the Author
Riise Walker is the marketing manager at ASSA ABLOY Hospitality.