The primary responsibility for a property operator is guest security. Hoteliers agree that the security of electronic locks is the most important upgrade to these types of locks. The mix of convenience and increased security led to the adoption of electronic locks. There is the obvious ease of making a new electronic key in case one is lost and being able to change the lock information, said Pat Maloney, director of engineering at The Langham Chicago. There is the added benefit of being able to see exactly who is entering and exiting the guestroom at what specific times.
Hotels can monitor all the guestroom doors at any time from remote locations, allowing for instant reaction if there is a need. This allows for fewer security breaches.
The data-gathering component of electronic locks has also made security more effective than ever, allowing instant feedback on lock activity. “It has changed security being able to have that information,” Maloney said.
Ralph Andujar, director of property operations for the Hilton Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Beach Resort and Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, said his electronic locks work with his hotel’s computer system to monitor every access point throughout the entire property. “We can tell who is going in the exterior doors and even to the fitness center—that gives our guests a level of security,” he said.
The ability to document who is going where means the general manager doesn't have to worry about chain of custody, said Steve Slishman, director of engineering for the Hilton Boston Downtown. “There’s a clear audit trail of our staff and of outside vendors,” he said.
Security goes hand in hand with operational efficiency for Slishman and the Hilton Boston.
“There is increased productivity since vendors don’t have to check out keys—they can just do the maintenance and don’t need an escort since we can program their keys for only where they are supposed to be,” he continued.
Slishman worked with lock provider Salto Systems on the back-of-the-house area of the hotel, giving each employee a single key that is tailored to his or her job assignment. “It is one comprehensive system,” he said. “It marries the back of the house to the front of the house.” Because of that additional layer of security, Slishman said inventory shrinkage has declined and they have avoided problems with employees once they leave the hotel.