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OpenWays Opening Doors to Gen Y Travelers Wishing to Bypass Front Desk

  • OpenWays
  • 05.11.10
Does your hotel technology meet the "dependency" of Generation Y travelers? According to OpenWays, a global provider of mobile-based access-management solutions for the security and hospitality industries, it should, considering that this 18- to 32-year-old demographic is the fastest growing segment in America's workforce and spends approximately $200 billion annually on travel.

Because Gen Y-ers will never be caught without a cell phone, OpenWays has developed a solution that allows hotel guests -- ideally Gen Y and business travelers -- to receive an acoustic/audio key via cell phone to bypass a hotel's front desk and unlock their guestroom doors using any of the 4.4 billion handsets in the world, regardless of mobile network or electronic-locking system.

"Statistics show that Gen Y loves instant gratification -- in fact, this group is notorious for not being able to wait in line," said Pascal Metivier, OpenWays Founder and CEO. "Gen Y also is very technology dependent -- especially on their smartphones -- and they have BIG expectations in service delivery. Therefore, it's an opportunity for hotels to add services that cater to these consumers. While business travelers have always been (and continue to be) big revenue contributors, Gen Y is next in line, with experts saying they are expected to play a big role in tomorrow's economic recovery. With a willingness to spend money freely on travel, hotels that allow this group to use cell phones to bypass the front desk and go directly to their rooms (avoiding what they deem to be 'tedious and unnecessary' check-in lines and face-to-face interaction) will be those best positioned to compete in the market." 

Professor Daniel Connolly, associate dean for undergraduate programs at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, works extensively with Gen Y-ers who rely on mobile technology to communicate with their "inner circle" and get things done efficiently while on the go.

"Recently I flew to Chicago and back using my cell as a mobile boarding pass," Connolly said. "It was fast, easy, and convenient. With the airlines starting to enable mobile devices for streamlined check-in, it seems to reason that hotel check-in will be the next obvious frontier. Consumers are quickly becoming conditioned to using their smartphones as a major tool in the travel landscape--and why not?  Most people are quite adept at using them and have them always accessible."

Convenient, Fast, Green and Efficient. For Gen Y travelers, OpenWays is providing convenience -- a key ingredient to satisfaction, Metivier said.

"Gen Y travelers don't want to have to wait in line at the front desk unless there is a specific need that needs to be attended to or resolved immediately," he said. "To them, it just doesn't make sense.

"People who are loyal to a particular brand already know what they are getting -- a King room is a King room," he said. "And, based on detailed guest-history profiles, should a guest have a particular request, it most likely will already be know and provided prior to arrival."

Another reason Gen Y travelers would be attracted to staying at an OpenWays enabled hotel, Metivier said, is it's positive impact on the environment. The absence of a physical key means less plastic is being thrown into landfills (although in addition to using a "demateralized" key, keycards can be requested as an option at any point during the guest stay).

"OpenWays can save hotels considerable costs in key-card production," Metivier said. "And, it's the same for loyalty cards. Gen Y cares very little about plastic loyalty cards. They see it as totally 'has been.' However, a chain branded widget on a smartphone with personalized value-added information is a much more attractive offer for Gen Y. Tomorrow's most effective loyalty programs will be based on two-way, real-time communication. Only mobile technology can achieve this."

University of Denver’s Connolly offers this advice: "Hotels that use any technology—mobile or otherwise—to  bypass the front desk must remember the hospitality component and find ways to personalize each transaction and the visit as a whole. First impressions are important and lasting.  Each guest should still be greeted by someone in the lobby; otherwise it's no more personal than going to a self-service car wash or gas station. Hospitality is all about providing a warm, friendly, and inviting experience. As long as the guest is appropriately acknowledged, cell phone technology will go a long way in providing hospitality, going green, and reducing paperwork and long lines."

OpenWays uses the principle of Crypto Acoustic Credential (CAC™) and text messaging (SMS) to very securely deliver a key to the right user anywhere in the world. The solution is compatible with every cell phone, every carriers and the major electronic-locking systems and access-control systems. The issuance servers located within a secured and trusted network environment generates a unique series of encrypted tones that essentially serve as aural fingerprints. The benefit of using an acoustic key is that all phones are made to produce sound. The encrypted acoustic sound produced is unique, and thanks to OpenWays patents-pending solutions, a fraudulent recording of the key will be made inefficient to open a door. The credential from any lost cell phone is stopped in real time by simply cancelling it online at the server level. In addition, as the server controls the credential issuance at all time, the OpenWays application allows real-time tracking and audit trail of all keys and Master Keys.

OpenWays also interfaces with central-reservation systems, property-management systems and the major electronic-locking systems on the market today. It also works regardless the card technology being used (magnetic-stripe card, smart card, proximity card, RFID cards, etc).

By dematerializing keys and cards and sending them over the air to cell phones, OpenWays also is making a significant contribution to the environment. Millions of plastic key cards are wasted every year. Travelers keep them and they eventually end up in the waste bin. Hotel key cards are made of PVC, which is highly polluting and highly toxic when burned in waste treatment facilities.

"At OpenWays, we understand the importance of communicating with both business travelers and Gen Y -- by indulging their mobile technology dependence, enabling them to bypass the front desk, and respecting their need to protect environment -- and we are working diligently to share that message with the global hospitality and travel community," Metivier said." Any hotel that wants to provide these two valued groups with the best possible guest experience needs to offer a mobile-key service -- period.

"By reducing front desk traffic, hotels are presenting staff with the ability to respond directly to guest requests and give them the personalized attention they require," he said. "Reallocating staff is a great way to increase service and reduce labor costs. As experts state, Gen Y has big expectations and relies on instant gratification. Likewise, business travelers rely heavily on the ability to access information anytime, anywhere and via the most convenient means necessary. OpenWays is delivering the services that today's travelers demands via the medium they depend on -- today."

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