World Panel
Viewpoint19 May 2020

Are there any quick-fix IT solutions for hotels in the post-COVID new normal?

Information Technology

— 12 experts shared their view

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Floor Bleeker, CIO MEA and Global Accor Strategic Programs
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HITEC Europe
Nick Price
Head of Systems & Technology Architecture at citizenM

The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need and an intelligent response to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and covid19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down.

NFC payment is everywhere in Retail, via Apple Pay, Android Pay, and other similar products, thus it is already familiar to millions of hotel guests. An extension of the same NFC contactless to address hotel access control needs is evidently a smart thing to consider at this time, being simply RFID on a phone or watch, and hence, extremely low-cost and quick to implement when compared against alternatives.

There is only one problem - Apple devices: although NFC works for payment (Apple Pay), Apple has not yet extended its implementation to permit NFC Access control via the Apple Wallet. The required functionality and API's are present in the current iOS release, and all we require from Apple is its willingness to digitally authorise (via digital certificate) hotel RFID/NFC keys such that they may be added to the Apple Wallet to be used in place of physical RFID cards. (note: the key card is present in the Wallet and so there is no requirement for a hotel App to control key access. NFC access control is therefore available to all hotels - no app required). (note also that Android already provides the necessary NFC Access control capability).

Now is the time for the hotel industry to speak with one voice and request help from Apple. This could be a game-changer. 

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