Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Global Hotel Mobile Check-in and Digital Key Rollout - where are we at?

For the last five years Hotels have been experimenting with 'mobile check-in and digital keys'  With Hilton and Starwood Hotels about one year into their global ‘mobile check-in with digital keys’ roll-out, we thought we would check-in now on other hotels to see where they are at.

We've included a table below with updates about the top ten global hotel chains 'mobile check-in with digital keys' situations, but what about the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) hotels? 

According to STR Global, a leading hotel and accommodation market research group, there are approximately 13,443,014 hotel rooms available globally (of which 50% are in Europe) and 90% of European hotels are SMEs which represents 5.45 million SME hotel rooms in Europe and around 600,000 more across the globe. 

We don't have any statistics yet on the number of SME's that have installed 'mobile check-in with digital keys', but we believe its very low. You might even be able to count them with both hands. Both Hilton and Starwood report that they already rolled out the 'mobile check-in with digital keys' product in about 30,000 rooms each, in dozens of hotels across the globe. And a few other chain hotels have made recent announcements about their 'mobile check-in with digital keys' installations too (e.g in our last blog post we talked about Bloc Hotels (UK) and Next Hotels (Singapore) installations). So clearly there is still a long way to go in the rollout of 'mobile check-in with digital keys' across the planet to reach the 13.4 million mark. Perhaps we are about 70,000-80,000 rooms in of the global roll-out, which is about half a percent of all hotel rooms on the planet.

Just like the rollout of keycard locks which began in the nineteen eighties and is still on going today, the global digital key rollout will take some time. Starwood and Hilton estimate that 10% of their guests have started to use digital keys. Expect these statistics to rise, and expect hotel chains to step up their 'mobile check-in with digital keys' rollout as people get used to the technology, and as awareness of the benefits of the product increases.

What will speed up the rollout of 'mobile check-in with digital keys' across the globe is having a solution available for SME hotels. At the moment the ‘mobile check-in with digital keys’ products available in the marketplace are built specifically for large chain hotels. For example see this article here about Hilton working with Google to let guests choose rooms with views via Google Maps on mobile check-in. 

If a SME hotel wants to offer guests the ability to choose rooms with mobile check-in and digital keys, then they need to have digital maps/plans of their rooms available in the app/online or a relationship with Google so Google can do it for them! 

Sure, SME Hotels can still offer mobile check-in with digital keys without online plans, such as having hotel staff choosing the rooms for the guest like they do now, or alternatively they can have the computer randomly choose a room for them.  But the problem is, well there is nothing available in the marketplace right now that offers these features. 

Another feature which the SME hotels need with mobile check-in and digital keys is compatibility with Online Travel Agencies, and interfaces to travel agent/bedbank software. Our company LEAPIN Digital Keys have built prototypes of mobile check-in with digital keys with all the aforementioned features, and we plan to bring this product to SME hotels and chain hotels later this year. If you are interested in learning more about our solutions please get in touch with us.

So finally here are the top ten hotel chains and brief updates about their mobile check-in with digital keys situations.

Top 10 largest hotels by number of rooms
Hotel Group
No. of Hotels
No. of Rooms
Digital Keys/SmartLock Announcements
Intercontinental Hotel Group (GB)
Been trialing digital keys since mid-2010 and currently testing a form of express check-in in 60 of its hotels. Smartphone app for Rewards Club that enables bookings and check-out, but not digital keys.
Hilton Hotels (USA)
Announced a €550 million investment to rollout digital keys/smartlocks in all rooms by 2016 however, thus far they have only been deployed in the US and a couple of overseas hotels. A global roll-out for all Hilton brands in anticipated by end 2017. There is the HHonours smartphone app for bookings and check-in and digital keys.
Marriot International (USA)
Has smartphone check-in through its app at 330 properties, with plans to expand to all 4,000 Marriott International by the end of 2016.  Check-in is mobile, but guests still have to pick up a key at the desk, although an express line is available so it's as quick and easy as possible. The hotel company says it is holding off on digital keys until all the potential bugs can be resolved.
Wyndham Hotel Group (USA)
No announcements yet.
Choice (USA)
Launched first global hotel booking app in 2009. No mobile check-in or digital keys apps.
Accor (FRA)
Announced a $330 million smartlock/digital key rollout in Oct 2014. No announcements yet about installations.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts (USA)
Has begun to install 30,000 digital keys/smartlocks in partnership with Apple and Assa Abbloy with plans to roll out to all rooms. 190,000 people have already registered for Starwoods keyless check-in. Estimated €15 million investment.
Best Western International (USA)
Has had its own booking app since 2009, but no mobile check-in with digital keys.
Home Inns (CHI)
No available app
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (USA)
Launched a check-in app in 2013 but no mobile check-in with digital keys

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