How does a hotel door lock system work?

23 May 2023
How does a hotel door lock system work?
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How does a hotel door lock system work?
A hotel door lock system integrates your locks with your management tools so you can provide, oversee, and control access points throughout your hotel. Most locks today use pin codes, keycards, or smart technology with digital keys. 
The hotel door lock system can be broken down into three distinct areas:
  • Access management
Your locks connect with a remotely managed access system, which is integrated to your PMS, operations management tools, and guest experience software via an all-in-one dashboard. 
  • Guest access automation
We automate unique mobile keys and/or access codes for every stay and share these with your guests.
  • Guest experience
Guests use a branded web app and digital guidebook to be independent throughout the guest journey, from pre-stay to check-out.
We’ll explore how different types of locks work in more depth next, as well as how these solutions affect the guest experience, your management processes, and on-the-ground efficiency.

4 Types of hotel door lock systems

Here, we take a look at the five main types of hotel door lock, and consider some of the pros and cons of each. 

1. Magstripe

A magnetic stripe (or magstripe) lock unlocks when a card with data that matches its stored information is swiped or inserted. This data is uploaded to the card from a centralized system at the front desk or by a check-in kiosk, and to the lock through either a wired or wireless connection.

Magstripe lock pros

  • They’re easy to use
  • They’re affordable to produce
  • You can change the card data quickly each time a guest checks in

Magstripe lock cons

  • The keycards can easily be demagnetized and stop working
  • They don’t offer the same level of security as contactless solutions since cards are easily lost
  • They may feel outdated to guests who’ve experienced digital access

2. RFID 

RFID (radio frequency identification) locks work by matching their stored data and the data in a chip, which is typically in a card. Because RFID readers work via electromagnetic waves, they don’t need to make contact with the card—you just hold the card against or near the reader, and voilà
These days, RFID locks often come with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) built-in. This means that you can facilitate keyless entry with a guest’s mobile phone. However, as we explore later, you still need a platform to manage this. 
 RFID lock pros
  • Guests prefer touchless check-in
  • RFID keycards are more durable than magstripe ones
  • They’re highly secure

RFID lock cons

  • They can be expensive
  • Cards can easily be lost

3. Pin code

Pin code locks aren’t so common among hotels but, since there are tools available to integrate them with management and guest experience software, they’re a solution worth considering.
 Pin code lock pros
  • They can be used in self check-in solutions
  • You can automate codes quickly and easily
  • They’re normally very durable

Pin code lock cons

  • They can look clunky 
  • Hotel guests tend to prefer touchless options
  • Manually programmed keypads are not very secure

4. BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)

BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) locks work by reading information transmitted via a Bluetooth signal. They can help you to meet modern guest expectations by making it possible for people to enter without a physical key. But upfront costs can be expensive, making it difficult for many boutique hotels to transition over
With the latest cutting-edge technology, though, BLE connectivity is accessible even to small independent hotels. We explore this further in the next section. 
 BLE lock pros
  • They offer the highest level of security by using encrypted algorithms plus the built-in biometric systems of mobile phones 
  • They improve the guest experience
  • They reduce front-desk workload

BLE lock cons

  • Some guests prefer an in-person check-in
  • They come with higher upfront costs
  • Automate team calendars with information about occupancy 
  • Auto-generate tasks based on your team’s schedule
  • Centralize team communications 
  • Manage integrations with other smart devices—for example, smart thermostats that automate energy-saving

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