With every new iPhone release we see a variety of new technologies brought into the mainstream. With the release of the iPhone 6 models, NFC (near field communication) has finally been brought into the spotlight. Apple isn’t the first company to incorporate NFC into their phones, companies have been doing it since 2006. The problem has always been that their user base hasn’t been large enough to cause much of an impact. With over 10 million units sold in the first 3 days, Apple has the influence to reshape industries. Along with the release of their new phones, Apple has Launched Apple Pay, a service allowing iPhone users to use their phone instead of a credit card. This wide adoption of NFC technology means we will be seeing it in more places, sooner than later.
So how will Apple Pay affect your hotel? In the short term, the biggest impact Apple Pay will have is going to be to the booking process. With how fiercely loyal Apple users are, given the choice of two identical hotels, at the same rate, they will want to stay at the property that better supports their products. This is where the threat comes into play. Your OTA partners will be the first to implement this technology, and HotelsTonight began accepting Apple Pay on October 20th. Like anyone with a new gadget, they will want to test out this new feature, which currently eliminates the option for direct bookings. Larger hotel chains will be next inline to incorporate this payment option into their mobile apps and websites.
If you are seeing a lot of bookings coming from your mobile booking engine, or if have invested in a mobile app, contact your provider/developer about incorporating Apple Pay into your service. They may not be up and running yet, but the more requests they have to do so, the faster it will be done. The more time the OTAs are the only ones accepting this feature, the stronger their relationship with your guests will become and the more commission you will end up paying.
In the long term, as more and more users being to use systems like Apple Pay, there will be demands for it at your front desk and restaurants. Thankfully most register systems have included NFC technology for a while, so it may be as simple as a software upgrade and some training. NFC enabled Room Locks are already on the market, but they are currently pretty expensive. As NFC technology becomes more commonplace, the costs for buying products equipped with it will drop as well.