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by Viko Bhakta

New advances in hotel IT technology are creating a “mobile white space” that is set to transform the way guests interact with hotels.

An increasing number of property management system and door lock hardware providers offer software to enable mobile check-in and smartphone room keys. But they do not build guest-facing mobile apps, which creates a “mobile white space” in the hotel IT ecosystem.

Today’s “silent travelers” want to manage their entire stay from their mobile device: from booking and check-in to room selection, mobile room key and mobile concierge services. 

The hotels that move to fill this mobile white space set the standard that travelers will come to expect from the entire industry.

The mobile white space opportunity

At last month’s Revenue Strategy Summit, mobile was listed as the number one disruptor facing the hotel industry. And with good reason. Mobile guest solutions have the potential to improve guest engagement, raise guest satisfaction, and reduce operating costs.

These solutions go beyond basic mobile booking services, to allow travelers to manage their journey and their own expectations.

Mobile guest solutions are important for mid-size, independent, boutique and select-service hotel brands, which may not have the resources or expertise to develop a full-fledged mobile solutions. These hotels are often more open to adopting technology that can give them an edge over or level the playing field with larger, more well-known brands.

The mobile guest journey

For guests, the immediate benefits are compelling: No more waiting in line to check in at the front desk. For front desk staff, no more time-consuming interaction with the PMS to complete the check-in and room selection process, followed by interaction with the door lock system to program key cards to complete the manual check-in process.

Instead, the guest journey is transformed to look something like this:

The guest books the hotel directly from a mobile app with real-time inventory through Property Management System integration, guaranteeing refundable room type and smoking preferences up to 365 days in the future.

On the day of her arrival, the guest is notified at 12noon for early check-in and is presented a list of rooms that are available for immediate arrival as well as a list of rooms for arrival later in the day. She completes check in on her mobile device, prior to arrival.

When she arrives at the hotel, the guest skips the check-in line and proceeds directly to her room, which she selected earlier in the day via direct hotel PMS integration.

Using her smartphone as her room key, the guest is able to securely access her room. The mobile app connects directly with the door lock system to create 256-bit AES encrypted smartphone room keys. On property, credentials are supplied directly to the guest, which can only be accessed through secure biometrics, such as Apple TouchID.

In short, filling the mobile white space with a complete mobile solution enables hotels to directly connect with guests pre-arrival, during the stay and post-departure.

Most important, mobile solutions improve overall guest satisfaction by providing a seamless experience for millennial, mobile and silent travelers who prefer digital, mobile services — providing the right service, to the right guest, at the right time.

Integration requirements

To enable these services, mobile app solutions must integrate with the hotel’s current IT ecosystem, especially PMS and door lock systems.

Modern mobile guest apps easily connect existing hotel PMS systems, such as Oracle Hospitality (acq MICROS Opera), and hotel door lock systems, such as Assa Abloy Hospitality, using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

For hotels, integration with existing hotel IT systems makes mobile check-in, room selection and smartphone room key solutions easy to implement and seamless to operate.

About Viko Bhakta

Vikas Bhakta is co-founder and CEO of Roomkey Technologies. He received a Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, In addition to his experience as an innovator and travel technology entrepreneur, he served as Vice-President, Asset Management for South Texas Hotels, LLP in Houston, Texas.  He also has experience in real estate finance, development, construction, operations, and revenue management. 

Contact: Michael Frenkel, MFC PR for Roomkey / (212) 808-6559

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