NFC phones replace room keys and eliminate check-in at Swedish hotel

The world’s first pilot test using NFC phones to replace hotel room keys begins this week at the Clarion Hotel in Stockholm, using a new mobile key solution developed by Assa Abloy.

Assa Abloy's NFC hotel room key
NFC: The key to speedy hotel check-in

Access control giant Assa Abloy, Choice Hotels Scandinavia, mobile network operator TeliaSonera, hotel door key specialists VingCard Elsafe and TSM solutions provider Venyon — part of the Giesecke & Devrient group — have joined forces for a pilot test that will see hotel room keys being replaced with NFC-enabled mobile phones.

The pilot is taking place at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm in Sweden and aims to discover how well guests and hotel employees take to the idea of using NFC for a variety of hotel services.

For the trial, selected hotel guests will receive an NFC-enabled Samsung S5230 mobile phone. They will then book their hotel room in the usual way and receive their booking confirmation on their mobile phone. Ahead of their arrival at the hotel, they will then receive a welcome message and a reminder to check in to their room via their mobile phone. Once checked in, their hotel room key is sent to the phone over-the-air, enabling them to go straight to their room without checking in at the front desk.

At the end of their stay, guests will also check out with their NFC phone by touching it to RFID tags located around the hotel or via the mobile key application on their handset. The digital hotel room key stored in the phone is then automatically deactivated.

“NFC technology allows us to offer our customers a new better and more comfortable hotel experience as they can use their mobile phone as a room key,” says Svein Krakk, CIO of Choice Hotels Scandinavia, the owner of the Clarion and a further 170 hotels in Scandinavia. “This is the beginning of a number of areas where we will be able to offer new added value to our customers.”

The four month pilot starts this week and plans call for the experience gained during the pilot to be used to enhance and expand the service to other hotels as well as to commercial and residential buildings.

The technology being used in the trial is based on a scalable secure delivery infrastructure for mobile keys that has been developed by Assa Abloy. The system includes the back office infrastructure required to manage the distribution of door keys and a mobile key application that resides on the customer’s NFC phone. This stores their door keys and, for travel applications, also provides the user with information about their hotel bookings.

The mobile key application is designed to be distributed to users over-the-air, using technology provided by Venyon. It is JavaCard 2.2.2 compatible and uses the JSR 177 security protocol to ensure the end-to-end secure management of the distributed keys.
HOW IT WORKS: Video shows how NFC users can skip past the queue at reception

“Keys are going mobile,” says Daniel Berg, vice president and general manager of Assa Abloy Mobile Keys. “At Assa Abloy we totally support this convergence and are proud to provide the world’s first complete mobile key service utilizing NFC technology.”

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