Sunday, 3 April 2016

A revolution of the key is underway

Hotels are following in the footsteps of airlines, using travelers' smartphones to provide services and streamline interactions. Several major hotel brands have announced plans to install digital key systems that can be unlocked directly from a guest’s mobile phone including Starwood Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Bloc Hotels, Prizotel Hotels, and Next Hotels. With keyless entry and mobile/digital check-in, hotel guests will have no need to wait in line at the front desk upon arrival. Many in the hotel industry are hoping that this streamlined process will appeal to increasingly tech-savvy travelers.
In the world of access control, the hotel industry has typically led the way in adopting new technological solutions. In the 1970’s, punched card locks were adopted, followed by magnetic stripe cards or “swipecard” locks in the 1980’s, and then RFID smart cards in the 1990’s and beyond.

Hotel owners and operators everywhere will be increasingly tasked with preparing for and embracing the burgeoning keyless mobile check-in trend, which is already well on its way to making plastic hotel key cards a thing of the past.

The market is still very immature and only big vendors such as Hilton, Starwood and IHG
group are entering into this new trend as part of their digital strategy. Distributors such as Hotel Tonight, and TUI Group are looking into this opportunity/carrying out trials, but none of them have launched any solution nor integration yet. Different vendors in the hospitality industry are looking into how to have a solution to offer to hoteliers including hotel wholesalers, Online Travel Agencies, Property Management System companies, Channel Manager companies, lock manufacturers, and hotel chains.

The two main digital key programs being offered by Starwood and Hilton, will retrofit 30,000 doors at 150 hotels worldwide by late 2016 with their SPG Program, with up to 300,000 more to follow, and Hilton Hotels, have a global digital strategy that will replace more than 500,000 door locks, starting by properties in USA in Europe in 2015, and with a global roadmap across all brands in 2016/17. International Hotels Group is testing express check-in at 60 hotels. Many other hotel groups such as Marriott offer digital check-in, but still need to pick up keys/keycards at reception.


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