Modern hoteliers today know that automated, smartphone check-in is the future. They enable you to offer a zero-fuss check-in experience for guests, as well as save money on staff, boost revenue, and reduce excess human contact in a post-Covid-19 world. 

One major way to do this is by using services such as OpenKey, a well-known app that allows guests to open their room keys using their smartphones. 

But OpenKey is not the only platform that offers this capability. And despite the company’s size and share of the market—OpenKey’s functions are actually more limited than you might expect. In fact, having only a mobile key as your option means you’ll always need a fallback—a plan B, like on-call staff or an alternative key method.

Plus, as a business owner, what if you want to do more than just open doors? What if you want to keep track of check-ins and check-outs, coordinate housekeeping and maintenance, and oversee the entire process of your guest stays in a single guest portal

And all without the extra hassle of downloading a separate app, or requiring a totally different PMS system on top of your door-opening system? Well, it’s possible! Operto does all this and more.

If that sounds good to you, then OpenKey might not be the best option for your business. Operto could be the alternative you’re looking for.


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In this post, we’ll explore:

  • What OpenKey does (and doesn’t do). 

  • Why it might not be the best choice for your hotel.

  • How it compares to our recommended alternative—Operto—which allows you to do so much more than simply open hotel doors!

OpenKey vs Operto: How is Operto an alternative?

Operto is a solution for a totally keyless, contactless check-in. But it goes further than simply giving guests keys, or replacing a traditional hotel reception. OpenKey only offers a mobile key solution. For hotels who want to reduce their front desk staff, we always recommend a keypad lock.

Keypad locks are the only form of guest entry that do not require any fallback check-in option. Most guests don’t want to use an app, whether due to lack of smartphone literacy, app fatigue, unintuitive user experience, their batteries dies or they run out of data. 

Most guests will steer clear of any app download. Typical fallback options we hear about before switching to Operto include:

  • 24/7 front desk (which really only viable in large properties)

  • Lockboxes for every single room containing a keycard. Guests call you to request the lockbox code when they arrive.

  • On-call staff that lives nearby and are available to drive out and meet clients 24/7 (not a great guest or staff experience)

  • With a standard key card or mobile key experience—a fully automated property is simply not possible. 

That's why we recommend keypad locks instead of mobile keys. It’s not just contactless and keyless entry—it’s also to further automate operations.

Here’s how the OpenKey features and Operto features compare.

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OpenKey

Operto

Eliminates need for keycards and traditional keys

✔

✔

Sends guests an email immediately after booking to give them access details and all the information they need

✔

✔

Works with the best hotel door locks, including smart locks

✔ 

✔

Allows access via smartphone

✔

✔

Shows extra information about the hotel or amenities near the vacation rental, such as laundry, restaurants, and WiFi password.

✔ 

✔

Allows access via keypad

✔

Connects to smart devices such as thermostats, AC, and noise monitors, and allows guests to set temperature schedules

✔

Works without a separate app

✔

Allows door access without a switched-on or connected smartphone

✔

No app download or fallback plan necessary

✔

Does not require a front desk or other fallback options

✔

Enables monitoring of occupancy + cleaning, 100% remotely, on a single platform

✔

Allows everyone to use it and be connected, including housekeeping, staff, and guests

✔

Saves you money on on-site staff, reception workers, and front desk space

✔

The OpenKey alternative: Don’t just take our word for it

Of course, we would say that Operto is your best option for an all-in-one hotel key management platform. After all, we built it.

But many independent hoteliers have tried our system for themselves and found that not only does it ensure happy customers, it also keeps costs low, and boosts revenue. 


A room at The Annex Hotel in Toronto Canada with white sheets and a large window

The Annex Hotel in Toronto, Canada, was always set up to be a high-tech hotel


As Ryan Killeen, general manager of The Annex Hotel in Toronto, Canada—which uses the Operto platform—says: 

“Operto has been fantastic for the hotel. It still wows people on their first experience.” 

Ryan Killeen

General Manager of The Annex Hotel

Right from the start, the Annex hotel was set up in 2018 as a high-tech, low-touch, “next-generation” hotel. It’s a beacon of the “future of hospitality”, Killeen says.

Just like many modern hotel brands (such as Sonder, for example), the Annex knew that its guests would demand a fast, easy, streamlined experience from check-in to check-out, and wanted to do away with old-fashioned, slow bottlenecks such as a traditional front desk.

That’s why it chose Operto, because it does more than simply replace keys.



Contactless, easy check-in

The Annex prioritizes contactless stays, and enables its guests to enter and connect with the hotel entirely through their smartphones and online portal, replacing the need for keys entirely.

As Killeen says: “When guests arrive all they have to do is place their palm over a keypad and enter a code and they’re given access to the room. Far smoother than the ‘old school’ room keys! It’s always fun to watch people when they first realize how simple it is.”


“With remote check-in, a guest can show up at the hotel and head straight to their room. It just makes sense; showing up to a hotel these days and waiting in line at a front desk seems like a very unnecessary process.”

RYAN KILLEEN

General Manager of The Annex Hotel

Operto not only gives guests their keys, it also removes the need for a front desk—even as a backup—as the entire stay can be managed via our single portal.


Guest interaction and personalization

And guests can do more than just access their rooms, because Operto goes beyond the basic OpenKey “keyless” function.

Ryan explains: “By removing the front desk and connecting directly to guests through their phones, it gives us a greater ability to interact between the guest and our team.” 

“We can go above and beyond for our guests. The guest has a smartphone in hand and is able to receive suggestions for the night ahead, or perhaps get a message saying ‘Hey, how are you? Would love for you to join us in the morning for coffee!’ ”

“Tech can really personalize the interaction without it feeling fabricated. It’s not something where people have to endure the hassle of learning something new or just being a nuisance.”


A screenshot of The Annex Hotel booking page, explaining how check-in is done online with no front desk

The Annex Hotel in Toronto, Canada, enables online check-in with no front desk



Streamlined operations

Because the Operto system does far more than open and close doors, it can also help managers to modernize operations, and manage the entire process much more effectively.

It can also be overseen by very few staff, saving a huge amount of money, and boosting revenue and profit—giving it the advantage over OpenKey, which has fewer management and remote access functions.

As Ryan says: “[Operto] is fantastic from a back-end standpoint with things like housekeeping and access to room data for more efficient operations.”

“Our ratio on average is 1.5 staff to 24 rooms. We have one person on at all times with part-time help for busier times of the day.” 

“So we’re able to operate a 24-room hotel with essentially one person on-site facilitating everything. That’s been fantastic. It’s very efficient, and software solutions like Operto make that possible.”


During a world still living with Covid, the less contact the better, too—which is why Operto’s ability to help you monitor the entire process via a single portal, without the need for a front desk with excess in-person staff, makes it a superior choice over most other “keyless” apps such as OpenKey.

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A view of a room by The Breakfast Hotel in Japan, with smart lock Operto entry

The Breakfast Hotel group has used Operto to make their check-in process contactless and automated

Covid-safe

This was especially true for the Breakfast Hotel group in Hiroshima, Japan, which was forced to adapt after Covid-19 hit the country in January 2020.

As the company’s COO Edward Hsieh says: “Literally no-one wanted to have any personal interaction with our team.”

That meant the group—which had already been operating with low staff interaction—had to look at automating its check-in process even more to survive.

It needed more than smart locks. It needed to switch its system over to a totally connected, all-in-one automated platform, in record time. Operto allowed it to do that, and offered far more than simple “digital keys”. It offered a totally streamlined, remote, start-to-finish system.

As a result, despite the pandemic, Breakfast Hotel now has an average booking volume 3x that of Airbnb.

And the Covid-safe elements go even further. As Hsieh says: “In addition to this, our cleaning staff, which were already very strong, are now even more effective at cleaning units.” 

That’s because Operto not only allows to automate guest access, but everyone else’s access too.

“For this period of time, in the midst of the pandemic, the guests we are welcoming are of course no longer international, but include healthcare workers and local guests who need to self-isolate away from their homes and families.” 


“They now feel confident, through the use of the Operto software, that we are providing them with a completely hygienic and safe environment.”

Edward Hsieh

Breakfast Vacation Rental COO



The best OpenKey alternative: Operto

In today’s world, you want your hotel management system to do way more than just open doors. 

A remote key unlocking system is just the start for modern hoteliers who really want to survive, thrive and increase revenue in this post-Covid, always-online, on-demand climate.

As a hotelier opening up again after the onslaught of the pandemic, it’s crucial to consider your options when it comes to boosting revenue, attracting guests, and ensuring everyone is kept safe.

That’s why OpenKey might not be the best solution for you. Instead, we recommend using our remote key unlocking system, which connects into a wider, super-efficient platform.

Using existing tools such as your smartphone and Wi-Fi, you can connect your entire hotel management system from start to finish, giving guests access to so much more than their door.

Automating your check-in and check-out process from start to finish allows you to grow revenue, keep costs low, and ensure happy and safe guests and staff. 

Let’s be real: Operto is more than just an alternative to OpenKey—it’s a complete upgrade.


Too long; didn't read?

OpenKey is a popular solution for hotel owners who want to offer guests digital access to their space and do away with physical keys. But Operto is a modern, super-connected, all-in-one powerful alternative.

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It offers guests and owners much more than a simple “open door” function, and enables them to temperature and AC, and more. It also removes excess staff costs and automates everything, so you boost revenue. It’s also connected via one single platform to the entire vacation rental process, from check-in to check-out and beyond—no extra apps, systems, technology, or downloads needed.


Connect your operations

Want a tool that comes with 5-star support and helps you generate more revenue? See how Operto could work for you.