Safes are moving out of the closet

In-wall and drawer safes, like these from Safemark, are becoming increasingly popular as a space-saving design feature.
In-wall and drawer safes, like these from Safemark, are becoming increasingly popular as a space-saving design feature.

In-wall and drawer safes, like these from Safemark, are becoming increasingly popular as a space-saving design feature.

Safes, especially in the open-concept, upper-tier properties, are moving out of the closet. That’s forcing guestroom safe manufacturers to closely examine the design of their products, said John Foley, VP of sales at Safemark Systems.

“We are seeing more mounting of safes on a wall or surface; since flat-screen TVs, there are no more bulky armoires with space to house the safe,” he said.

The finish and design is now playing an important role since these safes are no longer hidden in the closet. Safe manufacturers are offering new finishes or even customized finishes to coordinate with the room décor.

Space is an important consideration in tight hotel rooms so in-wall safes are trending, especially in new-construction hotels. In-wall safes can be placed in between the studs, taking up no additional physical footprint in the room.

“Twenty-five to 30 percent of our sales are now in-wall safes, which is double the amount it has been,” Foley said.

In-wall safes can often be found in kid-friendly hotels, such as ones near Disney World and Universal Studios, because children typically can’t reach the safes, limiting their access to play with the safe and create headaches for parents and the hotel staff.

“Space is an important consideration, particularly in smaller hotels that need to maximize living space elsewhere in the room,” said Ravid Brosh, global product manager, safes, for VingCard Elsafe.

There is a growing demand of safes in the nightstand or main cabinet. This puts the safe where the guest needs it the most and can make it more convenient to use. Instead of top-open safes, drawer-pull safes are becoming increasingly popular for just that reason, Foley said. “Drawer pull-out safes create an extra-secure, safe-within-a-safe,” he continued.

Since the electronic devices guests carry are getting smaller, some safes are getting smaller to align with that trend.

“Safes used to be big and bulky, but guests are carrying smaller laptops, tablets and smart phones and the design is reflecting that,” Brosh said.

Advice on maintenance and replacement of in-room safes

In-room safes typically don’t have heavy maintenance, but hoteliers should include safe maintenance in their preventative maintenance programs, said Ravid Brosh, global product manager, safes, for VingCard Elsafe.

While safes do need periodic checking, the primary maintenance is changing the batteries at least every two years. But when safes are brought online, maintenance can be checked remotely, making preventative maintenance even easier.

“We are seeing a movement toward devices going online, including safes, to reduce maintenance, increase efficiency and allow control from a central location,” Brosh said.

Replacing in-room safes has become a much bigger deal in the past few years, said John Foley, VP of sales at Safemark Systems.

Replacement safes are now about 18 to 20 percent of Safemark’s business. More manufacturing of all types is moving back on-shore, which is creating an unusual situation for safe manufacturers.

“Many safe manufacturers sourced safes from China, from plants that are not around anymore, so parts are not available,” Foley said.

He suggested hotel buyers make sure they get a full guarantee on their safe purchases, including all the parts.

“You should make sure to get a full-life guarantee—18 years—for your safe,” Foley said.

Choosing between RFID and passcode access

VingCard’s Infinity II RFID/NFC safe can only be opened with a designated RFID guest key or its NFC compatible cellphone.

VingCard’s Infinity II RFID/NFC safe can only be opened with a designated RFID guest key or its NFC compatible cellphone.

Knowing exactly when and who opened a hotel safe can be a valuable tool if a guest reports something stolen. Safe manufacturers agree that creating this audit trail is incredibly important. How to prevent the theft and need for the audit trail in the first place is under some debate among safe manufacturers.

With RFID locks rising in popularity, some hotel safe manufacturers are looking to adapt the technology for room safes. RFID safes allow guests to use their room key to open the safe, which eliminates the need to create and memorize a passcode.

➔ “It is important to keep the technology separate from door locks, especially when you have multiple key cards to a room—that leaves the safe vulnerable to staff or anyone else in the room.”

John Foley, VP of sales,

Safemark Systems

As locking technology is evolving to allow guests to bypass the front desk and unlock the guestroom door lock with their own mobile phone via Bluetooth, that technology will also come into play for in-room safes in the future, said Ravid Brosh, global product manager, safes, for VingCard Elsafe.

John Foley, VP of sales at Safemark Systems, said that allowing a guest to use the same key to open the guestroom door and safe removes a layer of security around the guest’s possessions.

“It is important to keep the technology separate from door locks, especially when you have multiple key cards to a room—that leaves the safe vulnerable to staff or anyone else in the room,” he said.

If a guest loses a key, Foley said, whoever picks it up gains access to both the room and the safe, which is not true for a safe protected by a passcode.

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