OpenWays Provides the Ability to Check In to Your Room Using Your Cell Phone, Any Model and Any Carrier

  • OpenWays
  • 11.09.10
While hotels around the world begin shifting their focus from plastic keycards to mobile keys as a way of giving guests the option to bypass the front desk, receive an exceptional personal stay experience and protect the environment, OpenWays continues to lead the industry with one of the only in-use mobile key front desk bypass solutions capable of working with all 5 billion mobile devices on the market.

"OpenWays is responding today to what travelers have been requesting for years: The opportunity to bypass the front desk and zip straight to their rooms upon arrival at the hotel," said Pascal Metivier, OpenWays founder and CEO. "Self-service options are increasingly made available to travelers in the airline and car-rental industries, so guests are today expecting hotels to provide similar streamlined options including mobile phone based checkin services." 

Since 2006, the electronic chip-set companies that created NFC (near-field communications) technology have delayed deployment because it's too complex, it's ecosystem is not stable, and it simply costs a fortune to deploy.

Most analysts consider that the core issue today is a weak business case stemming from two main NFC applications (payment and transportation) which consequently is preventing it from having any mass phone deployment. Numerous non-NFC mobile payment applications are now in use and are proven to be very efficient and secured. On the transportation side, the airlines and railways have adopted 2-D and 3-D Quick Response (QR) bar code solutions, and most decided not to wait any longer for NFC availability to further deploy mobile services. Only a few NFC phone models are being used in Europe in a small number of pilots. In addition, the technical standards are still not completely finalized and stable after six years of work.

Without having widespread and immediate availability of a full range of NFC-enabled phones (therefore enough users), it's not economically viable to offer a relevant NFC application for hospitality and other industries.
According to leading telecom analysts, the NFC ecosystem is seen as very complex, and it's in control of the phone carriers for now. Many think that the ecosystem can't survive as long as the phone carriers continue to dictate the economic model and want to charge significant fees. For others, more concerning is the lack of interoperability of the current NFC model. If a global hotel chain wishes to offer an NFC service to its guest, it will have to make deals with up to 1,500 carriers in the world, pay considerable fees, and always wonder if its guests are carrying the right phones. In addition a huge library of applets and middlets will have to be managed, making the NFC operating cost very high.

"Instead of requiring travelers to maybe obtain an NFC-compatible cell phone from the right carrier in the future, thereby causing hoteliers to delay offering self service options, OpenWays is paving the road to NFC by providing a solution today that enables hotel guests to use any existing cell phones to efficiently bypass the front desk and to securely unlock their guestroom doors," Metivier said. "Equally important, the OpenWays solution is designed around an open multitechnology platform that will allow for migrations to other technologies with time while always being able to address 100 percent of a mobile guest population."

Market analysts agree. In a recent interview for MSNBC, Greger Johansson, a leading telecommunications analyst at research firm Redeye, said NFC is a hot technology in the mobile phone market, but few models have incorporated it so far, and it will take "several years" before it becomes widely used. "It's not just a matter of incorporating the technology into the phones," Johansson said. "You need someone who can read it too. There are quite a few players involved so it will take a while until it works well."

With very proven technologies and an open platform approach, OpenWays is already working with the latest smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone 4 and 3GS, the Google Android-based phones, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian, etc., and further announcements for later-generation mobile devices (including the iPhone 5) will be made shortly.

Using now the principle of Crypto Acoustic Credential (CAC™) and text messaging (SMS), OpenWays delivers a unique encrypted tone or credential to the right user anywhere in the world. It is highly secured as each encrypted sound produced becomes obsolete from the moment it is used, making a fraudulent recording totally inefficient. If someone records the sound during a door opening and attempts to use the recorded sound to open the door, this sound will not be accepted by the lock or the access control reader.

"Not only does OpenWays work with every cell phone today, but we work with the major electronic locking system vendors across the globe," Metivier said. "Any hotel can retrofit their existing locks -- whether they are magnetic-stripe, RFID or smartcard -- to support CAC™. It requires simply adding an OpenWays decoding listen device to the existing lock or access control reader."

OpenWays is operational now and proving to be widely successful in several hotels. Hotelwide pilots with InterContinental Hotels Group for its Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands has been underway for several months in North America. Another major hotel chain is currently installing OpenWays in the United States. It is the same in Europe and in Scandinavia. Further OpenWays deployments with other global hotel chains are soon to be announced.

"Hoteliers are no longer taking a wait-and-see approach to mobile key deployment because today's guests demand it," Metivier said. "With travelers increasingly opting for self-service solutions as part of their travel experience, they expect the same for their hotel experience. Waiting in line to check in should not be part of the guest experience.

"Giving guests the freedom to choose how they prefer to check in not only provides true brand differentiation and a value-added guest service, but it can mean the difference between retaining a customer or losing one to the competition," he added. "This is especially important for brands trying to attract Gen Y travelers and retain business travelers who are drawn to self-service opportunities."

Those who are attending IH/M&RS in New York Nov. 13-16 should visit the OpenWays team in booth No. 2551 to try the solution with their own cell phones.

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