Quick Guide to Mobile Keyless Entry

13 February 2018

Words by 
Brian Shedd, VP Sales & Marketing, Open Key


We live in an era of instant gratification where staying ahead of the curve is more important than ever. Mobile keyless entry is no longer limited to Hilton, Starwood and Marriott; it’s arriving across the board as you read this. At its current growth rate, seeing guests unlocking rooms with smartphones will soon be as commonplace as wifi in hotels, while physical keys and keycards are relegated to museums.

The mercurial rise of mobile key has been caused by both standardization of mobile technology and a need for instant gratification. The front desk check-in ritual that has been a stalwart of the hotel experience has suddenly become optional. Now, half of hotel guests are asking themselves, “What if I could skip all of this?” — and finding out they can.

Enter mobile key, the innovative shot in the arm the hospitality industry has been inching toward for years. But like so many other examples of innovation, there will be initial questions about efficacy and practicality. Switching to mobile key is no exception.

Mobile key is a revolution in process and technology, and evolving to mobile keyless entry has some requirements. One of those requirements is a digital door lock that can communicate with a smartphone.  These digital locks are called ‘BLE’ for Bluetooth Low Energy and every major global lock manufacturer offers a line of BLE hotel locks.  If you’re unsure of which locks would best fit your property, we’d be happy to help you find out.

  • Some BLE locks are online, while others just communicate with an on-property server. Online locks offer greater functionality, generally at an increased cost.
  • While many locks are completely wireless, others are hardwired. Hard-wiring door locks will require more installation, which may result in more time and investment.
  • Mobile locks come in all shapes and sizes and moving from a large magnetic stripe lock to a compact BLE lock may require door repairs or refinishing.There are many BLE locks available that will cover the same area as your current magstripe locks.

How Secure is Mobile Key?

In this day and age, hoteliers are right to be concerned about cybersecurity. Mobile keyless entry apps collect guest usage data which must be securely stored and protected.  Knowing the right questions to ask can save you a lot of headaches (and legal fees) in the future.

For easy reference, below are a few questions to ask your point of contact:

  1. Are the company’s servers and portals secured through HTTPS connection?
    1. An HTTPS connection is an encrypted connection between the application and the server it’s connecting to. Essentially, all data sent from the app to the front desk platform and vice versa is encrypted.
  2. Are the company’s servers PCI and HIPPA compliant?
    1. The mobile key company servers should meet the same privacy standards that banks, credit card providers and hospitals are required to meet.
  3. Are the servers consistently monitored for potential problems, hackers or malicious software?
    1. The answer should be yes, 24/7.

Hopefully you’ve got a better idea of mobile key at this point. The details are important, but the top-down strategy behind mobile key comes down to one word: “smart.”

The hospitality industry is witnessing a mobile renaissance. It will result in almost all hotels becoming “smart” hotels, where guests will use their smartphones to control and personalize much of their stay experience. Sounds great from a guest perspective, but hoteliers have reason to be just as excited. Smart hotels will operate at a fraction of the cost of traditional hotels, largely due to automation, all while offering an unprecedented guest experience.

The ‘smart hotel’ isn’t a matter of IF - it’s a matter of WHEN. Let’s make sure your property is ahead of the curve.

Hear Brian Shedd speak on “Removing the front desk: genius or fail?” in the Hotel Technology stream and theatre on Thursday, 22nd February at 14:40-15:20. Visit OpenKey UK at booth HT43 at TTE to learn more about mobile key.