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Hospitality Blog

Keeping Pace With the Evolving Capabilities and Potential of Hotel Mobile Keys

By Li Wang 25. April 2023


Since being introduced to hospitality-based businesses, mobile key technology has become a symbol that for much of the industry, represents the ultimate in enhanced guest convenience and instant service. Countless major hotel brands and independent properties alike have endeavored to incorporate the solution into their own operations in order to cater to the two thirds of guests now seeking the ability to gain guestroom access using personal devices as a secure digital key.  

Yet while mobile keys first began to have an impact on guest experiences and expectations almost a decade ago, the technology has by no means remained unchanged since its initial launch. Instead, it has steadily continued to expand its capabilities and features as guest behaviors and preferences change, and as hotel operations inevitably need to evolve to keep up with new trends. Today, the global hospitality industry now has an ever-increasing number of deployment options available, with several able to be seamlessly customized to fit the specific needs of properties and their guests.

From mobile app integrations to standalone digital key services, what follows is a breakdown of the various ways that digital key functionality can be provided to guests and why each option should be on the radar of hoteliers seeking to provide a stay experience that’s both memorable and exceptional.  


A Room Key that Fits Right into Your Digital Wallet

Ever since the rise of smartphones, consumers have wanted to interact with more services and accomplish more tasks via the convenience of their personal mobile device. With payments and purchases representing a sizeable aspect of modern daily life, it’s hardly surprising that consumers have embraced the development of digital wallets that sidestep the inconveniences of digging for easily misplaced credit cards and cash. As many as 49 percent of consumers in fact now use digital wallets to pay their bills.  

Yet digital wallet technology offers so much more potential than simply serving as a means of electronically storing credit card information. Also now frequently used to store and retrieve airplane passes, concert tickets and restaurant reservations, to name just some examples, digital wallets can now also be used to even store and use hotel room keys. For a hotel’s guests, the advantages of digital wallet-compatible mobile key services consist of several key benefits. First, being able to utilize digital wallets as a location to store and use mobile guestroom keys means there’s no need to continuously navigate around an unfamiliar hotel app. Guests seeking a fast and painless check-in process can sometimes have their desires for instant guestroom access replaced by frustration if they first need to ask staff for assistance on how to use the service. By alternatively uploading their key and room number information to their digital wallet, guests can instead know precisely where and how to retrieve their room key the very moment it’s needed.

With guests often struggling to keep track of multiple keys, tickets and payment options, digital wallets also featuring mobile key compatibility are an ideal means of achieving hassle-free organization throughout the course of their stay. Significantly, many guests can experience enhanced convenience and satisfaction with just the simple knowledge of discovering that they do not have to download and interact with several mobile apps for each aspect of their journey.

More advanced digital wallet-compatible mobile key solutions can even come with several value-added features that make guestroom access that much more seamless and free of potential complications. Examples include guests being able to gain room access even when their device is locked or is in need of a battery charge. Combined together, the capabilities of mobile keys and digital wallets are fast redefining what industry businesses and their guests consider to be instantly convenient service.



The Endless Possibilities of Mobile Key Integration

In the battle to provide a guest experience that’s seamless, personalized and always effortlessly convenient, hoteliers across the industry are recognizing the tremendous value of integrating their various service offerings into one single and easily accessible source. Major hotel brands now almost universally provide guests with the option of downloading their own guest-facing mobile app, with the trend overwhelmingly catching on as nearly 90 percent of guests now indicate a preference to manage their stay without the need for human interaction according to some studies.

With digital key solutions also able to integrate with a property’s mobile app, hoteliers significantly have the opportunity to allow guests to instantly manage their stay from the moment they arrive until their stay ultimately ends. The fact that a majority of today’s guests are seeking out digital key services means that integrating the feature into a property’s mobile app can act as a high-value incentive for each guest to download prior to arrival. This not only provides guests with the instant service and enhanced control that they seek, but also increases the likelihood of them encountering other mobile-enabled services and promo offerings that can further enhance the quality of their overall stay experience.

 Hoteliers don’t even have to have their own guest-facing mobile app in order to adopt the service and integrate it with other functionalities. More advanced and established mobile key solutions are able to boast a wide range of potential app designs that incorporate solution functionalities from the industry’s leading technology providers. Examples include combining digital key services with the ability for guests to control in-room amenities such as thermostats and lighting via personal device. Other options may also include integrating room service ordering or AI-based chatbot features in order to ensure that guests always receive a swift response. Ultimately, mobile key integrations can provide industry professionals with the foundation they need to create a digitalized hotel stay experience able to address the specific preferences of their target guest demographic.


A Simple and Straightforward Approach to Adopting Mobile Keys

One of the leading benefits of the more advanced mobile key solutions is that they are designed with an eye towards flexibility and scalability. Hoteliers who are unsure of which type of mobile key service offering makes the most sense for the needs of their business or guests are not locked into one type of functionality should preferences or behaviors eventually evolve. If desired, industry businesses can even start out by offering mobile keys as a standalone service, with the option to add third-party integrations or create their own guest-facing mobile app as the need arises.

Yet to ensure that their digital key service strategy is successful, hoteliers should first always seek out the guidance and recommendations of reputable solution providers. Doing so can sidestep the possibility of making avoidable errors in judgement, while ensuring that any digital key strategy adopted ultimately lives up to the needs and expectations of a property’s guests.


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By: Li Wang

Li Wang serves as Senior Vice President and Head of Hospitality for ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions. He is tasked with working together with the Hospitality team to further develop market-leading solutions and services to serve the needs of hotel operators. Prior to his current role, Li served as Managing Director of Biosite Systems LTD, a company he founded a decade ago to provide biometric workforce management solutions for the construction industry. Under his leadership, the company has quickly grown into a market leader in the UK and has since been acquired by ASSA ABLOY in 2020. Li holds an MBA and a PhD in computer Science from the University of Warwick.

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