Dolf Mulder, CEO of the company, is always on the lookout for new opportunities, but turns out to be extra agile in times of crisis. “Almost everyone at Hotek is now working full-time on our GuestKey product, which is the advantage that this crisis brings. As a result, the innovative product is being developed quickly and thoroughly, which is very nice for our hotel customers”.
GuestKey is a complete cloud hosted platform, which not only provides access to the hotel room and other rooms, but is at the same time a complete platform for the hotelier and the hotel guest. Dolf: “It is a success; we are currently installing 50 to 80 doors per day, and that in these uncertain times. People just think it’s a great product, it appeals to the imagination and is a perfect way to communicate with your guest. The hotel owners where we installed it are so happy with it that some of them are even moved to tears, they love it. For those who don’t know what GuestKey is, Dolf has a brief explanation. “It is a web application hosted in the cloud. This means you don’t have to open hotel doors with Bluetooth, which is much less secure and also slower. Bluetooth is very nice for audio, but not so suitable for us; one of our developers even managed to hack the most secure Bluetooth lock within half an hour. Because we don’t believe in Bluetooth, we took the plunge. Also because we wanted to offer a distinctive, and with all due respect, better product. That has become GuestKey.
No app needed
So GuestKey works online, while Bluetooth operates offline. “With Bluetooth you need an app, which is a barrier for many hotel guests,” continues Dolf. “That’s why a web application is so nice, because there’s no need to download an app. Via e-mail you get a link for access and you are immediately operational. The possibility for guests to give feedback within the platform is also a big plus for hoteliers. Every hotel owner is afraid of a bad review; sometimes someone has got out of bed on the wrong foot and posts a bad review online. If the hotel guest leaves a negative review via the web app, the reception will immediately receive a message and they can immediately call the guest to ask what they can do to help him or her. The distance between hotel and guest becomes smaller, because the details of almost all guests who book through third parties are unknown. Where is the old-fashioned service and romantic hospitality? These have largely disappeared because the OTAs limit the hotels in their contact with the guest, but we bring them back with this interactive platform”.
Almost everyone has a smartphone and always carries one with them. That hasn’t been an obstacle for a long time. For the dinosaurs among hotel guests, it remains possible to create a keycard for access to the hotel room. “Communication on paper is rapidly disappearing within the hotel, and that is accelerated by the outbreak of the coronavirus. No more paper in the elevator with the daily menu on it and certainly no thick hotel folder in the room. This is not hygienic and impractical, the web app is much more interactive, dynamic, beautiful and safe. And also much more fun, which then encourages interaction. In addition, it is a ‘living thing’, while an app is static; the web app can be updated at any time and you can push messages in the application. As a hotel guest, I can get pretty annoyed with the way the hotel phone works. Try ordering room service that way. In most cases the phone will ring endlessly at first, after which you will end up at the reception desk. Can you call back later?’, they ask. No, of course not. I just want to order something quickly. So the web app also includes a Whatsapp function, which puts you in direct contact with room service. All functions are a direct result from all input from hoteliers, because we have an unbelievable amount of contact with hoteliers and we have asked them about the wishes for the hotels. We notice that there are almost no service notifications coming from the hotels; as a hotelier you can open a door in Amsterdam from the beach in Miami, so to speak, when needed. In addition, the web app contains all the necessary information for the hotel guest, which reduces the pressure on the reception desk. With a confirmed booking you will have access and you will immediately see the information about parking, breakfast, dinner, wellness and much more in the web app. This is an almost priceless service that opens many doors”.
Safe and corona-proof
Now you would think that in an existing hotel you would have to replace all the locks in order to use the web application, but nothing could be further from the truth according to Dolf: “We have a lot of contact with hotelchains that still have an agreement with a certain brand of hotellocks, but that’s not a problem at all. We have an open API, which makes it accessible to everyone. The integration can be realized very quickly and we can build it into almost any lock. I have noticed for myself that the hotel business was really waiting for this product and that it is picked up very quickly in this corona time; it is safer and much more ‘corona-proof’ than traditional solutions. Other aspects of safety are also perfectly fine, because in the event of fire or other calamities, you can open all the doors remotely. We’ve already invested around two million euros in the product for development, because it’s the future and we firmly believe in it, and you need a lot of money to guarantee safety. I notice that this is sometimes underestimated, and certain fellow lock suppliers take it less closely in that area. We are also looking at markets other than the hotel business, because we are also developing it for student housing, for co-working places and for meetings”. And if you think that Dolf is now ready in terms of innovation, it turns out that this is not the case: “No, we are currently working behind the scenes on things that will only become active in five years’ time. Facial recognition with body temperature measurement, for example, that will be quite big, certainly in terms of personnel access”.