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Mobile keyless entry from OpenKey continues to grow in use throughout the hotel industry.

By Jim Harris, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media

OpenKey’s technology knowledge, as well as its partnerships with hotel owners and others, helped it become the world’s largest provider of mobile key solutions in just four years. The app is used in more than 100 hotels in nine countries.

“We have the most deployments of any provider out there,” CEO and Founder TJ Person says. “That is the culmination of not just our technology, but the hard work of a lot of people here. I am proud of our team, which has helped us accomplish great things.”

OpenKey infoOpenKey is a universal mobile key technology that works with digital hotel locks, including those made by the four largest lock manufacturers in the world. The app-based technology integrates with Bluetooth-based locks.

The app is available on the Apple iOS and Android operating systems. Hotels using OpenKey usually send a pre-arrival email communication to a guest with their check-in options and the option to use their smartphone as the room key. The guest can create an account in the app and request a remote check-in. The hotel receives the check-in request and has the option to issue a secure digital key to the guest smartphone. The app notifies guests when their room is ready, enabling them to bypass the hotel front desk and go directly to their room. Alternatively, upon arrival, the guest can receive a confirmation code from the front desk that is entered on the app’s home screen. Once the code is entered, guests can access their room key from their smartphone. OpenKey also includes a satisfaction survey that can be completed following a guest stay.

For hotel owners, OpenKey’s front desk app, OpenKey Host, features an easy-to-use interface and allows staff to manage the guest experience by syncing with any property management system (PMS). OpenKey also decreases group check-in time and provides on-site training, support and reports.

Ahead of Disruption
Person, a serial entrepreneur, had previously launched Koupon Media, the first one-time-use mobile coupon platform built for brands and agencies; and Mango Mobile, a mobile marketing agency.

OpenKey Custom Key ScreenPerson saw Bluetooth locks as one of the most disruptive things in the hotel space, and felt that owners could get ahead of any technology provider and own the technology, so he sought out capital from several hotel ownership groups including Ashford group of companies.

After receiving funding from the Ashford companies, Person and his staff researched lock technology and began meeting with the lock companies that supply Ashford hotels. The
first OpenKey prototype was developed in 2014 at a 351-room Hyatt Regency hotel.

In addition to its ongoing relationships with digital lock manufacturers, OpenKey has also formed partnerships with other technology companies including PMS provider SMS and Intelity, a guest-service platform. “Focusing on the mobile key first and becoming really good at that helped us to grow quickly,” Person says. “Our partnerships with lock companies, property management systems and others make it very easy for companies to start using us.”

A Global Footprint
The demand for mobile key technology has grown rapidly in recent years, with major chains such as Hilton and Marriott using it throughout their properties. OpenKey attributes its fast growth to a universal approach to the lock market. “We offer a very easy way for hotels to deploy mobile keys,” Person says.

OpenKey’s marketing efforts have historically focused on boutique and independent hotels that wish to compete with larger brands. “Our goal was to become the most known solution in independent hotels and then expand to larger brands,” he adds.

The company continues to partner with lock manufacturers and others in an effort to expand. “We have a global strategy. Now that we’re in nine countries, we think it is important to support as many lock partners as we can,” Person says. “We are reaching out to resellers and other partners to gain a broader global footprint.”

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