Using NFC to Avoid Hotel Queues: Trial Tests Mobile Door Keys

In one of the first pilots of its kind, guests and employees of the Clarion Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, will be able to check-in, receive their door keys and enter their rooms, all with their NFC phones.

The four-month pilot involves Choice Hotels Scandinavia, the largest hotel chain in the Nordics, along with Assa Abloy, the largest supplier of locks in the world, mobile operator TeliaSonera and trusted service manager Venyon. Assa Abloy will also supply the mobile hotel key application, with the secure part of the application stored on SIM cards in Samsung S5230 NFC phones.

According to an announcement today by Assa Abloy, hotel guests participating in the trial need not wait in queues, either to check-in or check-out. About 30 guests and employees will participate in the trial.

They will book the room the way they normally do, then will receive a welcome text message on the day they are scheduled to arrive. They can then check-in on their phones by clicking on a link to a mobile Web site, then download their door keys over the air, along with the room number. They can go directly to the room and tap the phone on a contactless lock to enter. When they check-out, they can tap their phones on an NFC tag in the lobby or open their mobile application and check-out manually. They could also tell the clerk they are checking out. In each case, this deactivates the key. If a guest loses his phone, the hotel could remotely disable the digital door key through the trusted service manager, which also handles the key downloads.

"The guest experience with mobile keys is basically not having to queue at reception, just slipping past, going up to the room, starting to enjoy the hotel experience," said Marcus Majewski, general manager for Clarion Hotel Stockholm, on a YouTube video Assa Abloy released today about the trial.

The hotel already uses contactless cards and readers in its room door locks, supplied by Assa Abloy’s VingCard unit, and those contactless readers will read the door keys stored on NFC phones. Assa Abloy also owns contactless access-control company HID Global, which assisted in constructing the secure mobile door key system.

"In the future, Assa Abloy mobile keys will be available for not only hotel doors but also for doors to your home or office, and we plan to do trials as well as commercial installations in all segments that Assa Abloy is active in," Daniel Berg, vice president and general manager for Assa Abloy’s Mobile Keys unit, told NFC Times.

While NFC payment and ticketing get the most attention and the most trials, some observers expect access-control applications to become popular on NFC phones.

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