March 23 2015
Posted in: Hotel Technology

The Hotel Room Key Goes Mobile…What’s the Big Deal? The Answer is “Choice of Service”.

For those that keep an eye on hotel trends and technology, you perhaps are aware of the battle raging within the global hotel brands regarding allowing guests to use their mobile phones as the key to the hotel room. Two of the industries giants are leading the way with recent announcements:

  1. Hilton announced plans to enable mobile room key in 600,000 rooms before the end of 2015.

  2. Starwood is already offering mobile room key in a number of Aloft and W hotels today. Starwood even produced a high quality video to promote the new offering…CLICK HERE

So, the question is…What’s the big deal?

To answer this question, I went to leadership of several of the big brands AND I spoke with a few of the door lock manufacturers. As a matter of fact, just last week, I attended a sales conference hosted by one of the world’s largest hotel door lock manufacturers. The overwhelming answer to the question is CHOICE OF SERVICE. Today’s consumers are learning that a connected experience from their smartphone offers a ton of convenience and time-savings and even reduced costs. Of course, the obvious/crazy popular example is Uber. Fast, super convenient and many times cheaper than a taxi. Banking? Who goes into a branch anymore when you can do what you need on the smartphone?

Mobile room keys bring the following advantages to both the guest and to the hotel (according to the brands and the door lock companies,):

  1. Seamless Check-in…when combined with the rise of mobile check-in, mobile room key introduces the seamless check-in for the guest. The guest can now check-in via his/her smartphone and go right to their assigned room without needing to stop at the front desk.

  2. Reduced load on Front Desk = Labor savings for hotel & enables staff to focus on meaningful interactions with the guests that choose a full service check-in process.

  3. Convenience & Choice of Service for the Connected Guest…those guests that value the ‘full service’ check-in process can go to the front desk as has always been the case. At the same time, the “silent traveler”…those guests that value speed and convenience can choose their preferred silent path.

  4. Increased TripAdvisor Scores… the research is in. Hotels that deliver on service choice and reduced waiting gain higher scores on the all important review sites. And as the industry now knows, increased review scores directly lead to increased revenues. Proof? A hallmark study conducted by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration found a 1% increase in RevPar (an industry measure of revenue) for every 1% increase in the hotel’s “online reservation score” directly equating improved ratings with increase revenues.

To sum it all up, mobile room key is part of a larger industry shift that in the end will be a win-win for the hotel and for guests. The question is, what is your hotel’s plan to offer this choice of service?

I’m interested in your thoughts on the topic. Please list your comments/thoughts and I’ll get right back to you.