What If Your Hotel Key Card Could Do More Than Open Doors?

The hospitality business is tougher than ever. From the hotel owners’ perspective, competition within the existing industry is heating up and, at the same time, they’re having to compete with nontraditional market disruptors, such as online travel agents and peer-to-peer home sharing services like Airbnb. From the guest’s perspective, personalized, seamless hospitality experiences are top priorities when choosing where to stay, and technology features, especially digitalization, play an important role in their final choice.

It comes as no surprise then that hoteliers are looking for new ways to boost brand loyalty and create a competitive advantage. A primary focus is on digital transformation, with hotels investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new, tech-enabled services that put digital technologies to work. Mobile integration, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and even virtual reality—hotels are using digitalization to increase efficiency and reduce costs while offering more engaging services to always-connected travelers.

One example of mobile integration is the Hilton Honors app, which allows guests at Hilton hotels to do a number of things with their mobile devices, from choosing a room to performing online check-ins and check-outs, all while benefitting from tailored mobile content. Ranked among the top 30 travel apps worldwide and reporting over five million downloads, the Hilton Honors app is one of the most successful mobile apps in the hospitality industry.

RFID Key Cards Can Do More Than Just Open Doors

The key card, equipped with a microchip to enable radio frequency identification (RFID), becomes part of the digitalization effort by enabling new opportunities to innovate. When equipped with RFID technology, the key card is a natural access point for digital information and services.

Not only is the key card one of the first things you receive when you check in, it’s your gateway to everything the hotel lets you experience, from rest and relaxation to exclusive dining and entertainment offers. Linking key cards to the rest of the hotel’s digital offering gives hotel owners a way to make a traveler’s stay as enjoyable and convenient as possible.

At NXP, we’re working closely with the hospitality industry to create next-generation solutions that benefit hoteliers and guests alike. Our recent introduction of MIFARE Hospitality is just one example. It’s a new, cost-effective IC specifically designed to let hotel operates create key cards that do more than giving guests secure access to hotel rooms.

Creating Your Own Hotel Experience

Using the configurable NFC capabilities embedded in the MIFARE Hospitality IC, next-generation key cards become a powerful tool to help create customized guest experiences. Just tap the RFID key card to an NFC-enabled smartphone and you automatically launch an app or website that lets you do more, like control the temperature of your room or easily and securely log onto the hotel’s Wi-Fi network (without entering a password!).

Why did we choose NFC (near field communication) as the basis for interaction? Because today’s travelers can be relied upon to have a smartphone with them, and because almost every major smartphone supplier offers models equipped with NFC. The specific estimates vary, but research shows that NFC-enabled smartphones have passed the 1 billion mark, and that number is expected to grow as NFC becomes an increasingly widespread technology, in things like contactless bank cards and employee badges.

Hoteliers who adopt NFC are part of a growing trend, as more and more brand-name companies issue NFC-enabled services. Apple has recently announced Apple Card, for example, a payment card that uses NFC to make payments and connect the user to a supporting app. The Apple Card is also compatible with Apple Pay, another Apple services based on NFC. Similarly, Nike’s NBA Connected Jerseys use NFC to bring fans closer to the game. Tap a smartphone to the NFC tag woven into the jersey and you unlock special content and offers, such as game highlights, the chance to sit courtside at an upcoming game or early access to exclusive shoe models.

A New Form of Loyalty

The new MIFARE Hospitality IC can help activate brands and increase guest loyalty. As a hotel guest, you can tap your RFID key card to your NFC-enabled smartphone and, for example, automatically sign up for the hotel brand’s loyalty program using a form that’s pre-filled with your personal information. Or, you can tap the card to see which restaurants are nearby and benefit from digital-only discounts. With an RFID-enabled key card, a hotel brand’s digital offering is always just a tap away.

Why Security Matters

There’s a saying that security is something you don’t think about until you need it. It can be easy to take the security of a key card for granted until there’s a real-world problem, like the possibility that someone else might be able to enter your hotel room. Compared to other technologies used for key cards, such as barcodes or magnetic stripes, the new MIFARE Hospitality IC delivers a higher level of security. The RFID chip supports 3DES authentication at the door lock, so as a guest you can be confident you have a safe, secure way to enter your room.

Going Digital with RFID

NXP is a trusted technology provider to the hotel industry, and a significant number of MIFARE ICs are used hospitality applications. Our new MIFARE Hospitality IC gives hotel owners and brands a cost-effective way to transition away from legacy access technologies, such as mechanical keys, embossed cards, magnetic-stripe cards and previous generation of RFID cards. At the same time, the MIFARE Hospitality IC makes it easy to meet the growing demand for mobile interactions and new guest experiences.

The Key to the Future

At NXP, we can confirm that digitalization is, indeed, a major trend in hospitality. Working closely with leading hotel brands, lock manufacturers and industry experts, our technologists on the NXP MIFARE Team are developing the tools needed to enter this new era of digitally-enabled services.

You could even say that, with products like the MIFARE Hospitality IC, we’re doing more than helping people open hotel rooms—we’re letting them open the door to digitalization.

Learn more about MIFARE Hospitality in this webinar recording.

Christoph Zwahlen
Christoph Zwahlen
As Global Marketing Manager Access Management at NXP Semiconductors, Christoph Zwahlen is responsible for various applications of contactless smart card technology including solutions for campus cards. Together with the NXP team and in collaboration with leading solution provider Christoph drives innovative solutions for campuses. The focus of these solutions is the secure and convenient integration of various application for maximal benefits for campuses and students.

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