The latest fad in hotel technology is the careful introduction and integration of keyless entry in hotel chains such as Starwood and Hilton. Before mobile devices can completely replace the beloved plastic key card, there are a few bugs that need to be worked out first.
Hotel Brands using Keyless Entry
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is backing this technology with a $15 million investment and introducing keyless entry to several of it’s properties around the world including Aloft Beijing, Aloft Cancun, Aloft Cupertino, Aloft Harlem, W Doha, W Hollywood, W Hong Kong, W New York-Downtown, W Singapore and Element Times Square. Starwood have plans to introduce 30,000 keyless doors to all of its worldwide branches of W, Aloft and Element hotels.
Hilton is expecting to be able to offer this digital amenity to all of their US properties across four of their brands: Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Canopy by Hilton. They will then launch this application globally to the rest of their international properties in 2016.
Ultimate Goal to Boost RevPOR
The ultimate goal of a keyless system is to further drive usage of the hotel app, which brands and properties can then use to boost RevPOR. By encouraging or even forcing guests to download the hotel in order to gain access to their rooms, guests will then have a greater range of products and services that they can access directly through their mobile devices.
“It’s a potentially major revenue source to sway hoteliers who might still be on the fence.”
If everything went smoothly then the introduction of keyless technology could be a great asset to the hotel industry, but how often does anything go completely smoothly?
High Costs & Non-Competitive Markets
There’s no doubt that initial costs of installing this new technology will be significant; Starwood is spending $15 million and the product isn’t completely finished yet. Since this technology is not universally available there will be a limited supply of vendors and developers; this is turn creates a market in which these suppliers can dictate their rates without fear of being undercut by competition.
Usability & Guest Frustration
Is keyless entry technology being introduced to add real value to your guests, or is it a way to make your hotel seem trendy and more tech-savvy? Not all guests will respond well to room access via their mobile device. Grandma Jean may be a lifelong guests at Starwood but still doesn’t know how to check her email, let alone how to download and use a hotel app.
She may have been happier in the days when keys actually looked like keys, and introducing even more technology just to access her room is likely to frustrate and alienate her as a guest.
With any new technology that provides access to sensitive material (in this case it even provides access to your rooms) there will security concerns. As yet these concerns have not been fully addressed, with both Hilton and Starwood are offering only a cursory overview of the security features driving the new keyless systems.
Is it Worth the Effort?
It remains to be seen how guests will embrace keyless entry, but the appeal of encouraging the downloading of the hotel app is evident and that’s why the big brands are chasing it.
“Digital tools offer franchises a high return on investment through increased brand loyalty and revenue from push notifications, up-selling opportunities and pre-arrival requests,” said Dustin Bomar, VP of digital acquisition at Hilton.
If you’re not quite ready to embrace keyless entry, that doesn’t mean you can’t still take advantage of the revenue Bomar mentions from having a hotel app.