Study Finds Hotel Guests Want to Use NFC Phones to Unlock Doors

A pilot that allowed guests to utilize mobile phones with Near Field Communication technology to check in and out of hotel rooms, thereby replacing room keys, was a hit.
Published: July 6, 2011

People are using their cell phones to shoot photos, record video, send e-mails and text messages, surf the Web, find routes via built-in GPS technology, play games and more. Pretty soon, they might also be using their phones to check in and out of hotels and unlock their room doors.

This week, Assa Abloy, Nordic Choice Hotels, Giesecke & Devrient, TeliaSonera and VingCard Elsafe announced that they have completed a pilot project to replace hotel-room keys with NFC-enabled mobile phones. During an eight-month trial conducted at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm, in Sweden, approximately 30 hotel loyalty guests checked in via a mobile key application. After each check-in was completed, the key was sent directly to that person’s mobile phone. Upon arrival, guests could go directly to their rooms, without having to wait in line at the hotel reception desk. The guests were also able to check out through the mobile key service.

The companies involved in the pilot surveyed the participating loyalty guests, and found that a big advantage of the new system was in not having to stand in line at reception to check in and out. In fact, the firms report, more than half of those involved said they saved 10 minutes or more during check-in and check-out. What’s more, almost all of the loyalty guests indicated they would use mobile keys for their hotel stays if NFC-compatible cell phones were currently available, and if their phone supported the service.

According to a press release put out by the firms that conducted the pilot, the loyalty guests stayed at the hotel frequently during the pilot period, which gave them the opportunity to utilize the application repeatedly. Most participating guests said they would also like to use the NFC service to pay for food, drinks and other hotel services, as well as obtain information about the hotel and its services, such as maps, room-service menus, the spa and gym, restaurants, bars and public transport.

“Mobile keys are a great way to enhance the guest experience and add value to hotel loyalty applications; also, it is environmentally friendly,” said Marcus Majewski, Clarion Hotel Stockholm’s general manager, in the press release. “We get a closer relationship with our guests, and can add information on promotions and events. The survey shows that 60 percent are positive to getting information about hotel offerings using the service.”

Is this a killer app for NFC? Please post your thoughts below.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.