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More travelers and meeting planners are including a hotel's sustainability efforts in its selection criteria; Mobile key expert, OpenWays, offers five tips on how mobile key implementation can offer an environmentally friendly program that improves the bottom line, enhances sustainability programs and appeals to millennial travelers

Los Angeles-MARCH 25, 2014-Two-thirds of today's travelers "often or always consider the environment when choosing a hotel" - especially Millennials / Generation Y- according to a recent TripAdvisor report. The growing demand for green travel, especially in the group segment, combined with recent findings showing that American's dissatisfaction with a hotel starts growing after waiting just three minutes to check-in, with satisfaction scores dropping by as much as 50 points after five minutes, explains why so many chains and properties are looking to eliminate traditional check-in, including the paper, cardboard and plastic, and the wait que upon arrival. OpenWays, provider of the hospitality industry's first front-desk bypass solution that replaces environmentally harmful plastic room keys with a highly secure digital room key, is offering five top sustainability benefits of a mobile key program.

Top 5 Sustainability Benefits from a Mobile Key program:

1.  Mobile Key demonstrates a responsible hotel culture. Rather than requiring travelers to carry environmentally-harmful plastic keycards (along with the cardboard folders they are issued in), hoteliers can instead give their guests the option to use a "data key." Because it is digital, a Mobile Key is the greenest key available. Plus, most travelers are already equipped with a mobile phone, so guests do not need to stop at the front desk upon arrival at the hotel to obtain a plastic card made of PVC which is highly polluting and highly toxic when eventually disposed of. A mobile key solution provides travelers with the option to wait in line to obtain a plastic key or bypass the front desk altogether and use a 100% sustainable digital credential, or data key, that is not harmful to the environment, won't end up in landfills, and is more secure than current keycard solutions. 

2.  Mobile Key creates a responsible guest experience. Today's travelers want to have control over their stay experiences. A study released in March shows that 73% of guests want to bypass the front desk, and 63% would prefer a mobile key solution. By providing guests with their preferred options over how they interact with the hotel from the moment they walk in the door is essential to building loyalty and increasing satisfaction. A 2013 survey of 1,300 U.S. travelers by TripAdvisor.com shows that nearly two-thirds of travelers (62%) often or always consider the environment when choosing hotels. The survey also shows that 69% say they plan to make even more eco-friendly choices in 2014. This means that hotel guests - especially Millennials - want to participate in a hotel's sustainability program if given the chance. Offering travelers the opportunity to choose a Mobile Key over a plastic key card directly impacts the hotel's green initiative and it makes guests feel good about themselves while building a positive feeling about the hotel and brand. This not only supports the brand's culture and improves its reputation, but it gives travelers the opportunity to fulfill their desire to participate in preserving natural resources.

3.  Mobile Key provides a responsible economic benefit. Green electronic-locking systems do exist, but few, if any, are as green as mobile data key service provided by OpenWays. Hoteliers can easily and cost-effectively turn their existing door locks into a viable, sustainable green solution by simply retrofitting their existing locks with one of the OpenWays multi-technology platforms (acoustic credential, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC or RFID) - and for much less than the capital costs associated with lock replacement. Because Mobile Key works with most major electronic-locking systems on the market today, including new and existing electronic locks or access control systems regardless of the card technology being used (magnetic-stripe card, smart card, proximity card, RFID, NFC, etc.), it is delivering an economic benefit to hotels by future-proofing their existing technology investment, reducing operating costs (fewer physical key cards), "greening-up" operations, and not having to dispose of the exiting locks in landfills.  

4.  Mobile Key creates a responsible marketing platform. When travelers stay at a Mobile Key-equipped hotel, they have the option to register for the Mobile Key program. Once this process is completed, it opens a new world of paperless marketing opportunities for the hotel. The first positive touch point comes in the form of an e-mail or text message on the day of arrival providing the guest's room number with the hotel's welcome message. This paperless communication can initiate a series of opt-in emails or texts from the property or brand enabling hoteliers to stay connected by providing upgrade offers, promotional vouchers, loyalty points and more (rather than issuing printed coupons or vouchers). A Mobile Key program affords a hotel the opportunity to promote itself as "green" and, because it has a communications conduit to each guest's mobile device, the property can help drive guest initiated social commentary and interactions that drive further business. Marketing Mobile Key will help attract a new demographic of mobile-dependent travelers who prefer self service over attended service, and a new customer base of eco-travelers who are looking for truly green destinations.

5.  Mobile Key creates a responsible bottom line for hotel owners. One of the fundamental ways for hotel operators to improve asset value and sustain the longevity of the property is to cut costs, establish differentiation that drives preference, engage with guests on a more personal level, and share its success story with the world. A Mobile Key solution, properly executed, helps accomplish each of these tasks cost effectively. By creating an eco-responsible hotel culture and encouraging guests to use a data key vs. a plastic keycard, a hotel can cut considerable costs associated with keycard purchase, printing, key-encoding hardware purchases, special key envelopes, etc. Likewise, check-in line length shortens at the front desk with more guests opting for a Mobile Key. This enables hotels to better manage manpower for a given shift and/or reallocate human resources to other areas of the hotel that require more attention. 

Mobile Key by OpenWays is a highly secure digital room key comprised of an encrypted credential that is sent over the air to any of the 6.8 billion mobile phones in the world, and/or uses Crypto-acoustic, Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE), Near Field Communication (NFC), or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies. As long as a hotel is equipped with Mobile Key by OpenWays, any guest, using any cell phone, running on any carrier network worldwide can securely receive a "mobile room key" that will open/unlock the guestroom door (and garages and elevators, if required). It doesn't matter if a guest is carrying a standard cell phone or a smartphone - both will allow him or her access by simply pressing a key icon or clicking a link.

"Today's Millennial travelers spend money, don't wait for anything, are addicted to mobile technology, and they live 'green,'" said Peter Klebanoff, OpenWays senior vice president business development. "To get an advantage in attracting this demographic, hoteliers will want to appeal to their environmental sensibilities and their dependency on mobility, both of which have become an integral part of their everyday lives. Mobile Key by OpenWays incorporates the usefulness of mobile technology into all aspects of the operation, including the hotel's sustainability or green program and offers the added benefit of opening a great communications conduit with these guests."

Consider these statistics: 38% of email is now opened on a mobile device (Litmus) . . . 78% of U.S. email users will access their emails via mobile by 2017 (Forrester Research) . . . and 9 billion mobile subscriptions are forecast to hit the market that same year (Ericsson). This screams to hoteliers that their guests expect to interact with them via mobile device. As further proof, a recent survey of 1,000 travelers reveals 73% want to by-pass the front desk and 64% want a mobile key - astonishing numbers that can't be ignored. Several chains are implementing mobile check-in, but without Mobile Key, it's only half the solution.

"In addition to mobile communications -- which includes, email, text, voice and social media -- if a hotel can its guests to get into their rooms faster, purchase onsite amenities and services quicker, plus enable interested travelers to take an active role in protecting the planet, it's a significant advantage for that property to gain loyal customers for life," Klebanoff said. "Mobile Key by OpenWays is a significant step forward to making it happen, and it enables a number of other positive things the property can do - but that's the subject of future 'tips' editorials."

To see OpenWays' Mobile Key for hotels technology in action, click here. For more information on OpenWays' full line of Mobile Key solutions, visit www.openways.com or contact Peter Klebanoff at pklebanoff@openways.com.

About OpenWays

OpenWays is a global solutions provider of mobile-based access-management and security solutions. With offices in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seoul and in Europe, OpenWays provides technology solutions allowing for the secure issuance and delivery of access rights and keys processed via any cell phone operating on any network. The OpenWays solution is truly unique as it is built on the concept of credential dematerialization. The OpenWays mobile room key solution works on ALL the 6.8 billion cell phones in service in the world today. For more information, please contact Barb Worcester at +1 440 930-5770 or email barbw@prproconsulting.com. More information can be found by visiting www.OpenWays.com.

Contact: Barb Worcester, PRPRO

barbw@prproconsulting.com / (440) 930-5770

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