Guests are keyless and on the move

This is part three in a series on electronic locks for the hotel guestroom. Click here for part two: Streamlined lock designs offer more installation options.

One of the biggest changes in door locks comes from keyless entry. Radio frequency identification and other contactless technologies such as near field communication and Bluetooth low energy allow guests to check in and access hotel rooms via their cell phones, often through a hotel’s brand or property app (and sometimes from a third-party app). This is the main way for guests to “skip” the front desk on check-in, and it also opens up new avenues in guest data tracking.

While some would say keyless entry technology is still in its infancy, those people forgot to tell Swedish lock manufacturer Assa Abloy. The company currently has tens of thousands of mobile-access-operated hotel locks installed worldwide, and is expecting that number to quickly multiply.

“As the installed base expands, the service will naturally improve as guests become more familiar with the using their mobile phone as a guestroom key and hotels integrate other on-property features with the apps that manage mobile access,” said Lihong Wu, president, North America for Assa Abloy Hospitality.

Mobile check-in is also a major strategy at Kaba. Stephen Pollack, VP of marketing for the company, said Kaba is shipping locks with mobile-entry options to hotels in advance of their being ready to implement the technology. “We are getting ready for when their property-side strategy is ready. The hardware will already be installed, they just have to flip the switch,” Pollack said.

Hotels using mobile check-in over RFID have an additional, more incremental advantage, according to Bob Keck, VP of operations for Y!kes. If cell phones are used as guestroom keys, there won’t be any material for guests to accidentally leave with, and therefore nothing for hotels to replace since the guest’s phone is their responsibility.

“RFID keycards are on average two times the cost of magstripe key cards, and people don’t turn them back in,” Keck said. “Hotels have to eat the loss. It’s minor, but it’s also one less worry on both the guest and property side. And guests always have their phone on hand.”