Say goodbye to hotel keycards!  OpenKey, a new mobile app, sends a digital key sent directly to your phone. Skip the front desk. Go right up to your room. It’s a safer and more convenient way to stay. OpenKey has already been implemented in over 15,000 hotel rooms, and its CEO, renowned startup authority TJ Person, is determined to hit 35,000 by next year. Having just raised $8 million in series A funding, they are well on their way. They’ve also just opened offices in Plano so we asked CEO TJ Person to tell us how OpenKey is the future of hospitality.

What inspired you to start OpenKey?

The hotel plastic keycard model was broken. 15-20% of guests have to come back to the front desk because those cards get lost or demagnetized. I knew we could make the hotel keycard safer and easier for guests through the capabilities of a smartphone. OpenKey is my third ventured back startup so I know the space well and felt the hotel space was ripe for disruption with a Universal mobile key.

Give me a quick pitch about what OpenKey does and how to use it.

OpenKey delivers on the promise of remote check-in and secure keyless room access through enabling hotel guests to get a digital key to their room delivered directly to their smartphone prior to arrival – no need for them to go to the front desk upon arrival, they go straight to their room.

What does the new partnership with Preferred Hotels mean for the future of OpenKey?

Our exclusive partnership with Preferred Hotels gives us direct access to their membership of 650 upscale properties as well as a network of Regional Sales Directors who work with those hotels daily to promote partner products like OpenKey. We expect Preferred Hotels will become a major contributor to our growth goal in 2017 of reaching 35,000 rooms by end of year.

What about this appeals specifically to millennials?

Millennials are very tech savvy – very used to using their smartphone for nearly everything. So you can imagine that a digital room key delivered securely to their smartphone that eliminates the need for them to stand in line to check-in at a hotel would appeal to a Millennial.

How does this make things easier on hotels, in particular in terms of increased security?

A mobile key is the most secure form of room entry on the market today. OpenKey leverages several layers of security that start with the password, code or pattern required to access the guest smartphone and includes 128 bit encryption of the digital key that matches the security used by bank apps as well as a key code that changes every time the guest accesses the room. Nothing else even comes close to that level of security.

What’s the dynamic in the corporate office? Is it a small staff?

It’s definitely a start-up environment, open office space with a lot of team collaboration at a very fast pace. Everyone knows the goals of the company and what we need to accomplish, which makes for good teamwork and comradery

What’s your ultimate dream for OpenKey?

My ultimate dream for OpenKey is to grow it to be the industry standard for mobile smart keys. We’re already growing so fast that all my time and energy is going towards managing our global growth opportunities.

What else would you want people to know about OpenKey?

A lot of companies talk about ‘remote check-in’ which turns out to be really nothing – you wind up in a check-in line with everyone else. OpenKey delivers on the promise of ‘remote check-in’ with an exceptional guest experience. Once you experience skipping the front desk line, you’ll never want to go back, it’s a game changer. We also offer a branded mobile key for hotels that want something more bespoke.

What are some hospitality trends/predictions for 2017?

I think the industry as a whole would agree that everything is going mobile at lightspeed. Consumers are demanding it and it only makes sense. Going mobile saves resources, time, money and brings a level of customized guest experience that can’t be delivered any other way.