Electronic locks automate the guest experience

This article is part one of a three-part series on electric locks. Look to Tuesday's Technology Newsletter for the second part.

The biggest benefit of electronic locks is the lack of guest complaints, said Ralph Andujar, director of property operations for the Hilton Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Beach Resort and Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. “They offer a great experience for the guest,” he said. “Just hold the key in the front of the door—no swiping and no demagnetizing of keys. It’s great.”

Andujar has been in the hotel industry for more than 30 years and electronic locks are one of the best innovations he has seen. He has worked with lock provider Salto Systems for the past two years at the two Fort Lauderdale properties. The data stored on the electronic locks marries the guest information to the room lock.

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Robert Attaway, director of engineering for the Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, said his hotel’s electronic locks allow the hotel to move a guest to another room without having the guest come back to the front desk. “If a guest doesn’t like the view or has a problem with the room, the front desk can give them the new room number and the guest can go straight there,” he said. The Westin Buckhead has secure, keyed elevators and by putting in the room key, the old room information is cancelled and the card is updated with the new room information on the new floor.

The Langham Chicago’s electronic room locks are integrated with the in-room automation system, which offers a personalized guest experience, said Pat Maloney, director of engineering at The Langham Chicago. “Once the key is used to enter the room, the electronic curtains are opened, the television can come one and the air conditioning kicks on,” he said.

Earlier this year, The Langham Chicago installed Kaba’s Quantum radio frequency identification door locks in all 316 guestrooms. The Quantum locks link to Kaba’s wireless property network, which provides a smooth interface with the hotel’s property-management and energy-management systems.

The electronic locks’ ruggedness allows for daily wear and tear, such as housekeeping carts, without the locks incurring structural damage, Attaway said. This is especially true for the back-of-the-house locks. “Durability is key when in a busy property such as ours,” he said. “We can’t have something breaking or needing repair often. Especially something as important as door locks.”