With added security benefits and lower costs, key cards have proven to be an upgrade over metal keys, but the distribution is still the same. Guests receive the key at the front desk, and if they lose it or get locked out, they have to come back down (with ID) to get a new one.
By moving to a smartphone-based access system, a property removes the need for the front desk to be involved, says Todd Morris, founder and CEO of BrickHouse Security. People can check in providing their payment info from an app and have their phone instantly activated to unlock the door.
“No more lines at check-in eliminates the ‘first frustration’ in the hotel experience,” he says. “Clearly, this would be a big plus for customers who have come to embrace Uber and other instant gratification apps.”
However, are there any risks associated with this next-gen option, and will key cards soon go the way of their clunky predecessor?
How susceptible are virtual keys to being hacked? A well-designed smartphone key system is more secure than cards, which can be lifted or copied with ease. The biggest security risk could be that many users do not protect their phone with a passcode. This is changing quickly.
What other benefits are there to offering guests virtual keys? Once the app is connected to the property, it can give directions to the pool or restaurant or present specials, like “Happy hour starts now” or “You just left the gym. Do you want a massage at the spa next door?” It can even get them back to their car if they forget where they parked it.
Do you see a time in the near future when most properties will offer virtual keys? I think in five years we will look at a hotel with card keys the way we currently look at one with metal keys: They’re behind the times, and it’s a sign that they do not invest in keeping their property up to date.
Photo: Mobile Key by OpenWays