Keyless entry has been implemented in hotels for a few years already but overall adoption has been slow, the experts say. Last year seemed to be the turning point with Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide all making pushes toward mobile key. That has in turn impacted independent hotels as well, lock companies have seen.
“Hoteliers are beginning to see frequent travelers requesting mobile key both at and before check-in, so among that group, it has really caught on,” said Brian Shedd, OpenKey VP of sales and marketing. “We’ve seen guest usage as high as 80 percent but the real driver is the front-desk staff. There is a direct correlation between hotel staff offering mobile key and the guests using it. From a functional perspective, mobile has far fewer ‘fails’ for room access than typical card keys but it does require a smartphone and not all guests have one.”
Markus Boberg, VP of business development for Assa Abloy Hospitality, said that the number of mobile key installations has determined the success of the new technology.
“While easily installable and able to be rolled out throughout virtually any kind of hotel or brand, as with all new technology, keyless entry needs to hit a critical mass of installations before it can be considered successful,” he said. “Reaching this crucial goal, however, appears to be fairly more than certain when it comes to keyless functionality.
“What we consequently look at now is how to best support our hotel customers in getting the end user to embrace the technology. What is clear is that when [hotel guests start] to use the technology, they will continue to do so [because] they love the simplicity and time-saving benefits that it provides.”
Not all guests have smartphones, and some just don’t want to use mobile key, and that has slowed implementation. “Not everyone is going to use it,” said Matt Mrowczynski, VP of global hospitality at Salto Systems. “The older demographic of guests just wants a key. Trying to train guests in usage can be frustrating—for the guest and the staff.”
Mrowczynski also warned that Bluetooth could be a battery-drainer for smartphones so not all guests want to use it. Some properties he has seen only allow a single phone to act as the room key, which can be a problem when there are multiple guests in one room.