NB IoT Smart locks FAQ's

October 6, 2017

How do NB IoT Smart locks work?

After a guest makes a booking in the normal way they do now, (whether at the OTA, the hotel website, on the phone, or on the hotel app) they can use digital keys. On the hotel app, the digital key automatically downloads to the app. For all other booking here is what happens;

After the booking is made, our system (via API’s) extract the booking details, such as name, time and date of check-in details, email address, and assigns a random unique ID to these details, e.g 567 890. This ID is then stored in our cloud data base, and it is emailed to the guest (at the time of choosing by hotel, e.g 24 hours before check-in). When the time comes of the check-in and the guest wants to unlock their door, the guest sends the ID up to our cloud data base via the digital keys app (wi-fi 3G, 4G, or NFC encrypted), and the database looks at the time it was sent up against the time stored with the booking details, and if they match, then an unlock command is then sent over the NB IoT network to the lock, and the lock unlocks.

For bookings made in the hotel app, the digital key is automatically downloaded into the app. For bookings made anywhere else, to get the digital key, the guest simply needs to copy and paste the booking/check-in reference number into the digital keys app in their confirmation email (along with instructions on how to locate room in email), and then the digital key will appear.

 

I have a small hotel of 5-50 rooms, with no IT department, and I want to keep my current PMS, Channel manager, booking engine, but I can’t do the integrations, and I want NB IoT smart locks, what should I do?

We can charge you a connection set-up fee to do the integrations for you however, we need your PMS/Channel Manager/booking engine to provide us with some details before we can do this such as an API. If your current PMS/Channel Manager/booking engine cannot provide us with the details we need, then you’ll have to choose our already integrated booking engine/channel manager/PMS. The current PMS/booking engine/channel managers we have include; Wubooks; more to come soon.

 

Do I need to have a hotel app to get this system?

No. Your guests can download the Universal Digital Keys app from the online apps stores anytime. The Universal Digital Keys app will work with any NB IoT lock anywhere, and is available now on the link here. The Universal Digital Keys app for Android will be available soon.

 

Can I get a hotel app with this system?

Yes, we can provide you a quote to build an app for your hotel.

 

How much is the digital keys app to use? Do guests have to pay?

Its free to use the digital keys app and to download from the online stores. The guests are not charged to use the Digital Keys app to unlock their doors.

 

Do I, the hotel, have to pay each time a digital key is generated?

No. There is no per use fee for digital keys. We charge a very small monthly/yearly subscription fee to use the system as often as you want. This fee is cheaper than the monthly, yearly subscription fee to use the software for making keycards in RFID systems. We have to charge this fee to cover the use of our cloud servers for hosting the system and for the connection of the NB IoT network provided by Vodafone.

 

How secure is this NB IoT smart access control system?

The system works on the new Narrow Band IoT network. The internet works in a Broad Band network (high frequency) where all data in this network has to compete with other data such as large video files, streaming, large emails, skype calls, loads of emails etc. Narrowband IoT is a network separate to Broadband, which is a specifically designed network for smart devices to talk to each other and to the cloud. Broadband has to deal with things like congestion, reliability, blackspots. Where as Narrowband does not have to compete with big data files floating around, so it is not faced with these issues. And has the Narrowband network is new and specifically designed for smart devices, its built with better encryption, and its built to be more secure. Broadband offers 128-256 bit encryption, where as NarrowBand can offer 3072 bit encryption. Also most of the large Telco’s around the world have adopted NarrowBand, and it’s the only licenced Narrowband network, so they put their reputations and resources behind the network to make sure it’s the most secure it can possibly be, and much more secure than Broadband.

 

How to I allocate rooms with this system?

Just the same way you do now in your PMS. After you allocate a room the guest can receive their email with their digital key and instructions on how to use their digital key. If you would like to offer guests to choose your rooms, please tell us about this in the set-up questionaire, and we can set this up for you. E.g for Bed and Breakfasts say with three rooms, with names for rooms, we just let the guest choose the room name in the booking.

 

When do the guests get their digital key?

Its up to you the hotelier, to decide. You can request to have the digital key sent out on the morning of the check-in (in confirmation email) after you allocate rooms in the morning. You can set up the system to automatically allocate rooms at the time of the booking, and distribute the email with the digital key at the time of booking. You can set it up for automatic send of the email within 24 hours of the booking (with automatic random room selection). You can give a digital key at the reception desk if you like. Its totally up to you the hotel to tell us in the set up questionnaire.

 

Do all phones work with digital keys?

Yes, all phones that have an internet connection and that can use apps work.

 

Does the guest need to be connected to the internet or have their mobile data on (3G and 4G) to use digital keys?

Only iPhone users need to have Wi-Fi or mobile services on to use digital keys. We recommend you send out Wi-Fi log in details in the confirmation email, so your guests can connect as soon as they arrive on site to use digital keys. For example they can still go straight to their room and use digital keys with the Wi-Fi name and password.

Android users with NFC (most NFC Android phones) won’t need to use Wi-FI or mobile data to use digital keys.

 

​Can I integrate Digital Keys into my own hotel app that already exists?

Yes. We provide you with the app templates, and instructions on how your IT department can integrate digital keys into your app.

 

Does digital keys work with booking.com, or Expedia, or other Online Travel Agencies?

Yes. The OTA’s that digital keys work with is limited only by the connections to the OTA’s offered by your channel manager. If you don’t have a Channel Manager, we can recommend one for you that already is connected to digital keys.

 

Can I close by reception desk when I install your system?

Yes. It all depends on the set-up, and your property size. You can select to set up the system for complete automation, or partial/remote automation, so that you won’t need to staff an onsite reception desk to check people in. Of course our system enables a 24/7 virtual check-in desk, and self check-in system, we can’t do your cleaning or other services for you!

 

What happens at check-out with digital keys?

The digital keys will stop working at precisely the time of your check-out. For example, the digital key will work at 9:59 am, but stop working at 10:00am. You can set this for one hour later than your check-out time if you like to give your guests a few minutes leeway. After check-out the guest simply leaves, and their digital key will stop working.

 

Do guests have to stop at the check-in desk with digital keys?

No, they can go straight to their room, and open their room door with their digital key on their app.

 

Can I make the guest stop at the reception desk and get their digital keys?

Yes. You can generate the digital key and send it directly to the guests phone/app at the reception desk.

 

Can I use keycards in the traditional way?

Yes, you can. Our system is also a keycard system.

 

Can I use metal keys in the traditional way?

Yes, all the smart locks used in our system have a metal key override. We suggest, however, that the metal key be used only in case of emergencies, as our system will not be able to provide the live audit for use with metal keys.

 

What happens if the system stops working?

You can call the 24 hour support line and we can troubleshoot with you the problem and attempt to fix it.

 

What about cancellations? Or guests requesting room changes at last minute (for example if they are unhappy with the room they have been allocated)?

You can simply cancel the existing digital key or keycard anytime by logging onto the digital keys management platform and hitting the cancel digital key (cancel booking) button. Immediately the digital key will be removed from the guests phone (the unlock icon literally disappears off the screen.

 

How do I know who opened the door at what time?

By simply logging into our digital keys management platform with the log in details we provide you on set up, and clicking on the live audit button in the menu.

 

Can I get the live audit sent to my phone, so I know when a guest has arrived?

Yes, please notify us of this in the set-up (we will send out a set-up questionnaire after the purchase of the product.

 

How often do I have to change the batteries?

The batteries generally have to be changed every four to five years. You will receive an email when the batteries are running low.

 

Do I need to have Wi-Fi/Broadband on my property to use your system?

No. The system uses Narrowband technology and NFC. Narrowband is currently being rolled out across the world on the existing mobile phone towers. However if you don’t have Wi-Fi on site, your guest’s with iPhones will need to use their mobile data to use digital keys (iPhones don’t have NFC).

 

How much mobile data is used on guests iPhones?

Not much – only a few bytes each time they need to unlock the door. If the iPhone user guest does not want to use mobile data, and you don’t have free onsite Wi-Fi, then we suggest providing them with a keycard.

 

Does the system work on common doors, such as gym doors?

Yes. Please tell us the common doors on your property in the set-up questionnaire.

 

How much does it cost to set-up?

Unlike RFID systems, and Wi-Fi/BLE systems, there are no set-up costs, or any onsite infrastructure to use our system. The locks become internet connected with SIM cards, and tiny modems inbuilt into the locks.

 

How much is installation costs, and how long does it take?

This will be provided in the pricing quote from your local distributor/local installer. Generally the locks can be replaced in 10 minutes per door – but this needs to be confirmed by the local distributor/installer.

 

How much per door for NB IoT smart locks?

This will vary depending on the hardware and the software required. Generally speaking the costs will be between US$200-$300 per door (this could be more or less depending on volume, and type of hardware).

 

Do I have to change my locks?

Not necessarily. In many cases yes. But in large hotels with existing RFID keycard systems, there may not need to be a need to change the locks, but this will be determined by the local distributor at the time of the visit/quote. If you would like to know if you need to change the locks, please send us an image and details of your existing electronic locks.

 

Can I use digital keys with phone bookings or walk-ins?

Yes, you simply need to do the same process you do now for this. You can then choose if you want to allocate the room and the digital key immediately, or at the time of check-in.

 

Can I use the system with wristbands/waterproof tokens?

Yes. Our system works with a range of NFC tokens from wristbands, to stickers, to badges. Please tell us what you want to use in the set-up questionnaire.

 

What type of locks does it work with?

Please see the smart lock catalogue coming soon. Generally the locks work with any 3.6V and 6V electronic mortise locks – but please check the NB IoT smart lock catalogue (coming soon). If you have a special lock hardware, you would like NB IoT smart access to integrate with, please send us an email with the details, and we’ll try to accommodate your requests.

 

Can I use digital keys for group bookings?

Yes. Please allocate rooms for groups in the same way you do now, and then send all the digital keys (in the form of the check-in/booking reference number) and room numbers in one email to the group organiser. Big savings in having to manually make new keycards everytime by hand.

 

Why should I get this system?

Because its more secure, cheaper, smarter and more convenient than any existing access control system in the marketplace including metal keys, RFID keycard systems, Mag-stripe keycard systems, and Wi-Fi/BLE or Zigbee, or Z-Wave systems, or any other access control system. In time it you help will save money, and it will help get your occupancy rates and revenues up. Want to learn more about this? Send us an email.

 

If a guest is bypassing the front desk, how do I get their ID?

A ‘take ID’ function can be added to the app, and emailed to the hotel. It can also be suggested in confirmation email, that the guest send their ID to the hotel. It can also be suggested that the guest stops at the reception desk at anytime during their stay to give a copy of their ID. The Terms and conditions can state that by making the booking, agree that the person staying is over 18. The guest can be asked to send their ID during the registration process for the first time with the guest loyalty app.

 

Does the system work with elevator controls?

This feature is coming soon.

 

Any more questions?

Send us an email!

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