Do Customers Like Your Hotel Door Locks? Have you chosen the proper one?
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Recommendation of hotel door lock
Hotel Door Lock Technology - What's behind every locking system?
Anything that goes beyond the physical access mechanisms of traditional metal keys and locks will include some sort of technology. This technology is the authentication of the key that triggers the opening and closing of the hotel door lock, and the various options differ in a few main ways: how the "key" is encoded and how it communicates with the hotel room lock reader.
"According to industry reports, when RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) door lock systems were introduced to the hospitality industry more than 10 years ago, they were well received by operators and guests alike for their superior reliability."
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. But the lock system you choose will determine the type of electronic locks and suppliers available to you, so it's the best place to start.
Magnetic stripe cards (Magstripe)
Magnetic stripe card technology emerged in the 1970s and represented a huge leap forward in lock technology. Like a credit card, this thin plastic key card has a magnetic stripe that is encoded to work with a specific guest room lock. When the magnetic stripe card is swiped through a magnetic stripe reader on the correct guest room door, it is unlocked at set intervals, usually a few seconds. Like other electronic hotel locks, the magnetic stripe reader has a battery power source that typically lasts 12-18 months before the battery needs to be replaced.
Pros: Magnetic stripe key cards are disposable at their price point, and it has been the industry standard locking system for decades. Chances are your guests will be familiar with this option.
Cons: Demagnetization is a common problem. If a guest places a magnetic card next to something with an electromagnetic field (such as a smartphone or TV), the code can degrade, causing a malfunction (and requiring a trip to the front desk for replacement). Lock operation can also be affected by dirt and dust buildup in the reader slots.
Hotels rarely reuse magnetic stripe cards now, which creates avoidable recurring expenses and ecological concerns about their disposal.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
RFID door lock using RFID technology emerged in the early 21st century. Instead of swiping the card to enter the room, as with magnetic stripe key cards, RFID key cards using NXP's Mifare solution only need to be lifted within a few inches of the lock. This lock contains an RFID module that transmits a signal via modulated radio waves that prompts the keycard within range to communicate its unique encoded guest access information, and then the module verifies the key's encoded information to unlock the lock.
Pros: RFID keycards and locks are designed to avoid the common pain points of magnetic stripe lock systems that their seals do not need to be cleaned as regularly as magnetic strip locks. RFID keycards can also be reused by hotels.
Cons: RFID key cards are costly - hotels spend more than $2,000 per month replacing key cards that are not returned, lost or stolen (which can also pose a threat to guest room and hotel security).
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)
BLE technology is the driving force behind today's mobile key solutions. Like RFID and NFC locks, these locks constantly broadcast a signal waiting to interact with a coded key, although in this case the key is digital. However, the original Bluetooth locks were not efficient for hotels and often required battery changes within six months. As a result, in 2014, the Bluetooth Low Energy Lock was introduced, which sits in standby until it is "woken up" by a guest using their phone to access the encrypted, tokenized key, which is then read by the lock in order to access the room. Most current BLE locks require a specific app to implement. This is the lock system first widely used by major hospitality brands such as Hilton and Marriott.
Pros: BLE locks now have an extended battery life of between 12-18 months and include both BLE and RFID modules, allowing the lock to operate via proximity cards and digital keys. RFID-only locks can also be easily and economically installed with a BLE module lock upgrade. Digital key providers like OpenKey use the additional security of 128-bit encryption, a bank-grade standard that is essentially unbreakable. Hotels do not have to constantly replace key cards with BLE, and guests spend less time waiting at the front desk because mobile keys enable contactless check-in. Guests can also access digital keys through the hotel's mobile app, which provides a direct marketing channel that generates additional revenue for the hotel.
Cons: In the first years of BLE locks and digital keys, it was difficult for hotels to get guests to download the hotel's mobile app to access their digital keys which your customers may feel annoying. However, in 2020, this trend suddenly changes direction as guests expect more contactless services, with surveys reporting that 73% of travelers will download and use an app that allows them to open doors with their mobile key.
If you want to keep it "business as usual," you may be looking into hotel door lock system that use key cards. While the plastic magnetic stripe keycard may be the cheapest form of room access, it is prone to wear and demagnetization and does not provide added value or ROI for the hotel. It also means you need to have staff on site, so operating costs are always high.
Mobile keys, a door lock that utilizes BLE technology, may be a popular form of keyless entry and hotel automation, but they are often not an adequate replacement, especially if your goal is to reduce operating expenses. You need to be aware that customers' phones may run out of battery. Another point that may be overlooked here is that older generations are still not used to relying on their phones to enter their rooms. This means you'll still need front desk staff "just in case".
Finally, RFID cards provide a keyless experience that can work without a phone or key. It provides the most secure form of access for hotels while allowing them to begin the digital transformation into a modern form of operation.
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