Does Your Hotel Really Need Mobile keys?


Using mobile phone as a key to open the door in hotel is not a new technology.As early as the beginning of the 21st century, VINGCARD has realized the NFC function of mobile phone in their door-opening technology.

vingcard mobile phone open solution
Vingcard’s early solution support functional phone with NFC ready

After 2010, smart phones became popular and various Mobile key(digital key)
apps emerged.Almost all the hospitality media are talking about how advanced it is and how
revolutionary it is. Yes mobile key feature looks fresh, but does your hotel really need it?Learn
more about it before you make decision.

1.Mobile key can not Co-work with Energy Saving Switch.

Energy saving switch (ES) is widely used all over the world except in north america.It is because it can save a lots of energy for hotels per year.
Its working logic is- When customer inside the room, he must have a key card to open the door, and this key card could be a triggering condition of ES that make connect the power supply of room.
When customer depart he have to take away key card so that next time he can come in room again. This is also a triggering condition of ES to cut off power supply.

In this logic, energy is saved when there is no body inside room.
Electric appliance such as light, mini fridge,TV and Air condition will be cut off power supply.
However mobile key break this logic.There is no real key card to insert to ES.And ES becomes ‘Useless’. It can not supply or cut off power supply at all.
So in many hotels they solve this problem by always leaving a card inside ES, to ensure the customer have power to use when they use a mobile key.
Or hotels in north america doesn’t equip the ES at all.

If your hotel locate in an area where electricity bills are expensive and energy efficient, MOBILE KEY could kill your idea of saving energy.

2. Increase the cost of door lock procurement.

It’s hard to argue that mobile key isn’t a great way for hotel lock suppliers to drive up prices. The truth is that hotel locks with Mobile key function are 50% to 100% more expensive than those without.
For example, an conventional hotel door lock sells for 110USD, then Mobile key ready model will sell for 190-210usd. But they are almost no different in hardware.
The ‘Mobile key’ function just require add a chip on the lock’s PCB board. This is really a good business!

3. Battery costs increasing

Don’t believe how lower power consume in the latest bluetooth version, claimed by bluetooth alliance.
Anyone who uses a smartphone knows to turn off BLE when not using it.
Because Bluetooth can quickly drain your phone power.
This matter will not change on the door lock which equipped ‘mobile key’ function.

The key issue is that the hotel door lock can not be charged power as easily as a smartphone. You have to replace the AA batteries!

BLE technology locks, which use 50% or more than the locks without mobile key function.
ypically it will not last over six months, or even three months.
Think about it.

4. Mobile key is difficult to implement

The mobile key APP should not only have a unlock button in it.
There are a lots of room information to treatment in the background of APP.
It includes room number, expiry date of mobile key, etc.,
So that users can know when their mobile key can unlock the door of which hotel room.

All data should be connected with the hotel rooms database, and all check-in/check-out information shall be timely feedback to the APP.
These all need stable and good software and database architecture to realize, otherwise it will cause huge troubles. For examples the occupied room is issued new key again on mobile key app.
For many hotels with limited investment, this is a lot of money.
And these money will not bring any new customers.

5.Weak compatibility

There are compatibility problems not only between the door lock and the APP, but also between the APP and the user’s mobile phone.

Between Lock and App-
There are too many mobile key app comes from different publishers.
Hotel door lock manufacturers, such as TOP5, they have their own digital key apps.
Third-party platform, such as OPENKEY,,Sofia,Zaplox,Vardi,FLEXIPASS MOBILE,Unikey provide app.
And also hotel groups, such as marriott app support many hotels.
Everyone want to win in this field.And it is very complicated to figure out the app compatiable with what brand locks.
As a hotel, you may not know which one to choose.

various mobile/digital key apps
various mobile/digital key apps

Between App and user’s smartphone-
Currently, NFC and BLE are the major technologies used by Mobile key app to communicate with door locks.

NFC based mobile key requires the user’s mobile phone must have NFC function.As a result, many smartphones without NFC cannot be used in practice.

BLE bluetooth technology is more popular on mobile phones than NFC, but in fact, it comes in many versions, such as 3.0,4.0,4.1,4.2 and 5.0(2016), which vary greatly in performance. Its version and Android OS version will effect the final performance very much.
The IOS version isn’t much better.
Various mobilephone hardwares, various bluetooth versions, various apps and various brand locks-From the key was sending, to the moment mobile key remote the lock’s unlocking, there are too many links involved.
There is no unified standard and they are not comes from a unified manufacturer. No body knows the mobile key on a customer’s phone will unlocking door immediately or must waiting 10 seconds, or not working at all!

Imagine how wonderful such a scene-customer goes straight to the room with his big luggage, skip geting the key card on front desk,Press ‘unlock’ button. But nothing happened after a while!
How embarrassing!

Far from as good as you might think.

At present, it is mainly a large hotel Group in the global scope, which uses mobile key in North America, such as HILTON, Marriott, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).
Even so, these hotel groups still provide the traditional key card as a way to open the door-Because they knows that the app will not always working.

To put it bluntly, these hotel groups push it as a fresh experience rather than its practical mean.
High cost, poor compatibility, low usage, mobile key is far from as good as you might think.
Mobile digital key can not be a essential item for your hotel.Taking a physical key card never becomes a burden to the customer, especially for the people who staying just few days in a hotel.
For the majority of ordinary hotels, the improvement of customer experience can not only rely on a new function, invest in improving the quality of service and living environment is the realy key.



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