Consolidating Security and Convenience: The Evolution of Guestroom Access Technology
By Timothy Shea President, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality | January 10, 2016
In recent years, the hospitality industry has experienced a surge of interest surrounding the ability to provide guests with convenient alternatives for interacting with properties and their services. While maintaining a priority on offering the latest in security innovation, hotels have also experienced an ever-increasing demand for greater convenience and personal preference in the way that guests gain access to their assigned rooms. This has resulted in security access technology evolving in a manner that now provides the industry with some of the most guest experience-enhancing solutions to date.
Since the introduction of the first recodable keycard door locks, the hospitality industry has continued to experience significant advances in the field of security access innovation. The wide scale adoption of magstripe technology for instance, gave hotels and their guests a security access alternative that was a first in being both easy-to-use and reliable. Yet the industry's goal of providing ever-greater security and convenience has resulted in a number of new solutions that significantly improve on magstripe's various abilities and deficiencies. From solutions offering superior keycard encryption capabilities, allowing use of the same keycard to access multiple areas or leveraging a smartphone's BLE abilities to unlock a guestroom door, hoteliers are increasingly able to deliver on their promise of providing an environment that is as convenient as it is secure.
With the subsequent introduction of online door lock systems, countless hotels around the world have been able to revolutionize operations and guest service in a way that was simply not attainable before. Now a common feature, online door locks are first and foremost recognized for their ability to enhance security through several unique functions, such as being able to alert staff to the presence of a potential intruder. Hotels equipped with an online system are able to cancel any suspect keycard automatically and minimize threats to guest safety. Also serving as a convenience-enhancing solution, advanced online door lock solutions are popular due to their ability to provide hotels with features that can streamline guest check-in and check-out services. By providing a platform that allows guests to remotely extend their stays, be re-assigned to another guestroom or automatically deactivate keycards at time of check-out, online access systems have served a vital role in ensuring that properties are able to keep pace with evolving guest demands.
Fast-becoming a mainstay feature throughout the industry, RFID technology has likewise propelled hotel operations and services to even greater heights. With regard to guestroom and property-wide access, RFID has allowed hoteliers to discover and implement a multitude of advantages, and serves as a superior security alternative to magstripe locks. Unlike magnetized keycards, RFID keycards are virtually immune to cloning due to advanced encryption technology. They also do not run the risk of becoming demagnetized, a common occurrence with magstripe technology that requires guests to re-visit the front desk in order to receive a new keycard. Perhaps one of RFID's most recognized benefits is its flexibility in adapting to a hotel's style or in merging several services together. Hotels equipped with RFID keycards are able to simply provide guests with one keycard that can provide access not only to their guestroom, but also to other restricted access locations around the property, such as swimming pools, gyms or VIP areas.
That same keycard can also serve as a form of payment throughout the property, allowing guests to order drinks from the property's bar or purchase items at the pool area, while wallets and credit cards are secured in their guestroom safe. RFID keys can additionally be supplied to guests as wristbands or key fobs, depending on hotel or resort needs. RFID functionality continues to demonstrate how hoteliers are able to leverage technology to provide guests with a service that offers them choices and allows them to personalize their experience. The success that RFID security access technology has experienced can partly be attributed to guests increasing need to take greater control of their hotel stay. This same desire has fueled what appears to be the latest and possibly most significant advancement in security access convenience; one that allows guests to dictate how they interact with a property from the moment that they set foot onsite to the moment that they leave.
Often termed simply as mobile services, the technology continues to demonstrate its ability to reshape the hospitality industry by providing users with a tool to personalize the guest experience for unmatched convenience. While initially slow to adapt to its presence, the industry has steadily increased the range of mobile services that are available for guests who prefer to use smartphones to access information and interact with property amenities. By offering a seamless self-service check-in/check-out experience, security access solutions that now offer mobile access compatibility are leading the way in ensuring that hospitality keeps pace with other industries, as well as the growing guest demand for self-service travel.
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