Electronic locks as data-analysis tools

Hotel locks are no longer designed solely as security implements. “Hotels have to understand that locks aren’t just locks anymore,” said Thomas Riegelman, VP, engineering & facilities management at White Lodging. The door locks of 2015 do more than just control the flow of people through doors: They also provide information on who is going where.

This door-level deluge of information began when the industry switched from the magnetic stripe readers (magstripes) used in guestroom keys to contactless radio frequency identification technology. Lihong Wu, president, North America for Assa Abloy Hospitality, said that RFID allows hotels to more efficiently manage guest access and streamline maintenance to door locks. These digital locks were also designed to track a series of conditions upon opening, and can provide information to a hotel based on guest use.

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Bob Keck, VP of operations for Y!kes, a creator of direct-to-room technology services, said data can be used to track when a guest enters or exits a door and can also be used to monitor lock batteries so maintenance can replace the components before they fail.

“Our system can even tell [a hotel] if guests can open a door or not, for any reason.” Keck said. “High-end hotels pair door locks with energy-management systems, and data collection from locks can also help inform housekeeping of whether or not a room is still occupied by a guest.”

Data collection is so important to the activity of hotel locks that currently the action of locking a door is secondary. “We are at a point where the back end of these systems is more important than the function of the lock,” Riegelman said. “The lock system interacts with the property-management system, with guest information systems and with the reservation system, and all those other connections are going to be much more important going forward.”

Riegelman said that this focus could result in additional information being pushed to the guest through apps, all based on tracked preferences.