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Hotel keys go mobile

Hotel keys go mobile
Hotel operators are continuously finding ways to enhance the overall experience of the guest and a major hassle guests have to go through is the process of checking in at the reception area. This has led to the development of the mobile key technology which is the number one trend right now.

An example of this technology at work in Asia can be seen with Assa Abloy's SPG Keyless system, which was developed for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. It was launched last year in select hotels worldwide, including Beijing, Hong Kong, and Singapore; and the hotel conglomerate aims to install the system in all of their 150 global hotels.

Using this system, registered members use an app on their phones to bypass the queue at reception and go straight to their rooms. A mobile "key," in the form of an encrypted code, is sent to their phone via the Internet and used to directly gain access to the room through their phones' Bluetooth function which can easily be done by holding the phone to the lock.

Advantages of a Mobile Key System
Aside from convenience, an added advantage for the guests is enhanced security as mobile keys cannot be replicated or easily lost. If a guest loses his phone, it can be deactivated or tracked instantly while the lock can be immediately deactivated using the hotel's server. To address concerns regarding the security of the wireless data transfer, many companies employ an additional security layer with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) 128-bit AES encryption standard.

This would be cost-efficient for the hotel because the system will reduce the number of people needed at the front desk. "From a hotel's perspective, there are operational benefits as well: reduced expenses on key cards, fewer requests for replacement key cards, and — depending on a hotel's preferences — an expedited guest check-in experience," said Jeffrey Wong, Assistant Product Manager of UTC Climate, Controls & Security. "As the percentage of hotel guests who are comfortable with technology prefer the convenience it can provide increases, it will become increasingly important for hotels to offer mobile-based services."

Integrated Applications for the Future
There is a growing demand to have interfaces with various systems such as a hotel's loyalty app. A highly integrated security system can also be used to help with property and energy management as well as workforce management. Investigation of complaints from guests about things missing from the room can easily be done using the lock's entry logs.

Integration of mobile keys with various software is definitely a trend that the industry is heading toward. "For ease and convenience many guests want to have as many hotel services as possible at their fingertips – booking, check-in, room key, room management, on-line concierge, ordering meals, and other hotel services. Delivering these in a coordinated way on a single platform offers more flexibility to the guest, returning greater value to the hotelier than the sum of their individual parts." said David Rees, VP of APAC at Salto Systems Asia.

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