Hotel Technology Trends: Keyless Room Entry and RFID on the Rise

Hotel keyless room entry is arguably the most talked about hotel technology trend currently available.

It’s a game changer. Mobile access at hotels empowers guests with the ability to bypass the usual hotel check-in process. They skip traditional procedures and can head to their room more quickly to unlock their guestroom door through contactless mobile key technology.

It has the potential to improve the guest experience substantially. Today’s guests, particularly those who fall within the Millennial demographic, have shown great appreciation for being able to use their mobile device during travel and hotel stays, even prioritizing packing a smartphone over a toothbrush, deodorant or even a driver’s license. Research even shows that 1 in 8 people are addicted to smartphones and spend an average of almost four hours a day using them.

A major component of keyless room entry at hotels is radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. RFID technology has become a key component in the Internet of Things (IoT) as a means of tagging, or identifying, physical objects on the IoT network. Early projections predicted that 9.2 billion tags would be sold in 2015, up 2 billion from the year before.

Using insight delivered by hospitality technology, employees “move past transactions, into an interactive space where they can personalize the experience.”

“Where RFID is going to play in the Internet of Things is by adding the unique value of what’s going on at a particular point on a specific object at an exact time,” said Doug Bellin, global senior manager, manufacturing and mining, Cisco. “There’s value in that sort of insight.”

For instance, RFID tags placed in items can already provide information about the object such as surrounding temperature and location tracking.

Disney, a leader in creating incredible guest experiences, already uses RFID technology in the form of wristbands (MagicBands) and cards to track unique guest activity throughout hotels, resorts and parks. Implementing RFID has meant the elimination of paper, such as itineraries and tickets. Guests don’t have to carry cash or hotel room keycards.

Using insight delivered by such guest engagement technology, employees “move past transactions, into an interactive space where they can personalize the experience,” according to Meg Crofton, former president of Walt Disney World Resort and one of the original minds behind the development of this digital guest experience system.

“The whole system gave Disney a way of understanding the business,” said Nick Franklin, formerly the executive vice president of Disney’s next-generation experience and another member of the team who started MagicBands. “Knowing we need more food here, how people are flowing through the park, how people are consuming the experiential product.”

Several of the leading providers of hotel room mobile access technology utilize RFID locks, including Kaba Lodging and ASSA ABLOY (formerly VingCard ElSafe). One of the first steps to enabling a property with hotel keyless room entry is the installation of RFID locks. Staff can assign a digital hotel room keycard to guests, sent straight to their mobile device, and guests can then use their mobile device to unlock a hotel room door by holding the device in the lock.

Many hotels are taking it a step further by offering the contactless hotel room entry feature through mobile hotel apps that also allow guests to view information about hotel services, place orders and book reservations as a means of leveraging mobile for revenue generation. Some hotel brands have also required that guests register for loyalty programs in order to receive guestroom mobile access.