Unlocking Mobile Keys for Independent Hotels

The mobile revolution has and continues to impact the hospitality industry in a big way. According to the J.D. Power 2017 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Survey, incorporating mobile technology into the guest experience results in higher guest satisfaction. This is no surprise considering the ubiquity of smartphones. From Googling the answer to a burning question to online shopping to sharing our experiences with the world, our smartphones allow us to satisfy our desires instantly, on the go, and have become a convenience few of us think we can live without.

When it comes to hotel stays, smartphones are unlocking a new level of self-service convenience for guests with mobile bookings, direct messaging, self-check-in and more. According to recent research by TripAdvisor, 45 percent of connected travelers would like hotels to provide a mobile app with booking functionality (yet only 16 percent of properties do), and 34 percent of connected travelers want self/mobile check-in (yet only 11 percent of properties actually provide this).

Often going hand-in-hand with self-check-in, mobile key technology (or keyless entry) is increasingly in demand by today’s guests (especially millennials), and offers significant advantages for hotels too.

What is Mobile Key?

Mobile (or digital) key technology allows guests to unlock their hotel room via an app on their smartphone. Facilitated through NFC (near field communication) technology or Bluetooth, mobile key works by the guest simply holding the authorized smartphone close to the door lock, or touching a button on their smartphone screen. Guests can even unlock their door from anywhere inside their room (like from the bed), which is handy when receiving room service.

Starwood Hotels began rolling out mobile keys back in 2014, quickly joined by the likes of Hilton, Marriott, Choice Hotels and InterContinental Hotels Group. According to Hilton Hotels, guests who use mobile keys are more likely to rate their efficiency of arrival almost 10 percentage points higher than those that check in at the front desk, and leisure travelers who use mobile keys rate their overall stay experience 5 percentage points higher than those who use traditional check-in.

Why Do Guests Want It?

Why do so many guests want self-check-in and mobile keys? The answer is quite simple: to skip the queue. Just think of the popularity of self-check-in at airports and ticket-printing kiosks at movie theaters and train stations — the same logic goes for hotel check-in. Fuelled by mobile technology, our culture of immediacy has whittled away our level of patience and given rise to the “silent traveler.”

Efficiency has always played a significant role in guest satisfaction and, thanks to the rapid advancement of hospitality technology today, the level of attainable efficiency is higher than ever. Mobile key technology affords a seamless check-in experience that enhances the entire guest experience.

Guest demand for self-service convenience doesn’t mean that guests don’t want to interact with hotel staff; many travelers will always prefer dealing with people over technology. But it’s important to offer a choice – the modern traveler wants to be in control of how they interact with hotels.

Advantages for Independent Hotels

It’s not just guests of big brand hotels that want (and expect) more self-directed experiences. Mobile technology is becoming a standard across the board. Luckily, the transition to a mobile key system has many benefits for independent properties.

Streamlining the check-in process frees up time for hotel staff to interact with guests away from the front desk, in a more natural way. And authentic experiences are a significant motivator for customers choosing an independent hotel.

It also shouldn’t be understated that offering keyless entry can save money as well as aid in efforts to become more eco-friendly. It is estimated that a 200 room property goes through 12 000 plastic keys in one year. That is a lot of wasted money (and non-biodegradable material!). Once you factor in the economic and environmental cost of key-encoding software and the envelopes keys are handed to guests in, it is not difficult to understand the momentum behind keyless entry technology in the hospitality industry.

Transitioning to new technology can be unnerving.  The time and cost associated with replacing existing locks might be a deal-breaker for an independent property. However, with WebRezPro’s interface with Lock Up, adoption is easy because properties won’t have to change existing key card locks.

People do everything from their phone these days—and they love it. Consider adopting mobile key technology to give your guests what they want and increase efficiency at your property.