What to keep in mind while choosing hotel door lock system for your business
Safety has always played an important role in our industry. However, a traditional security lock has a weak spot, which is – the key. If it is lost, the finder can easily get access to your hotel. Moreover, lock replacement is expensive and takes time. Adopting more advanced technologies may help you to avoid such problems.
Nowadays, electronic door locks, also called electric, are widely used in hotels as a practical alternative. You can open them with a PIN, a chip card, fingerprint, or app. The usage of electronic locking systems is becoming increasingly popular in the hotel industry. If you plan to invest in a new solution for your business, in this article you will find some useful tips that might help you to make the right decision.
How do electronic hotel door locks work?
One of the main advantages of smart door lock systems is their ease of use. The best option is – when the guests can access the room with one tap using the application. Here's how keyless entry works in the integration of the HotelFriend App and a hotel locking system by Salto KS:
The types of hotel guest room locks and keys
A lot of things must be considered before you choose a certain type of lock. For instance, you should be aware that some of them need access to a stable Wi-Fi connection to work. However, with this type of system, you will be able to manage it wherever you are!
Today, there is a plethora of options on the market, which can be confusing. But to make your choice easier, we have collected relevant information on the most popular options in the hotel industry for today. Before revealing the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of locking systems, we will focus on their general characteristics.
To start with, they fall into three categories: mechanical, mechatronic, and electronic.
Mechanical door locks
This type belongs to the simplest locking systems. These locks can have different lock cylinder mechanisms, e.g., with reversible or spanner keys. They are affordable, as there is a wide range of prices that can be suggested, and the installation is easy. However, they can be easily picked, and they are less convenient for elderly and disabled persons.
Thus, the good old key is now rarely used in the hotel industry.
Here is a brief overview of the pros and cons of a traditional lock:
|✅ Cheaper price;||❌ The key can be lost or copied;|
|✅ Trouble-free installation;||❌ Vulnerability to lock-picking;|
|✅ A lot of options to match the style of your hotel;||❌ No extra functions aside from locking and unlocking;|
|✅ The ease of use.||❌ No opportunity to add value to your hotel.|
|❌ Lack of convenience for the elderly and disabled people.|
Mechatronic locking systems
This version combines mechanical and electronic components. The main parts of this system are the locking cylinders plus programmable keys, special devices for programming, the management software, etc.
This type combines the best parts of ordinary and digital locks, providing extra security for your building. It does not require complicated wiring installation, as the power source is located within the key. Each one has a battery, which lasts approximately for a year and can be easily replaced. If the locking system features Bluetooth connection, it is possible to receive up-to-date information concerning access to the building or room where the lock is installed.
|✅ Higher flexibility compared to mechanical-only solutions;||❌ Higher costs of installation and repair compared to traditional locks.|
|✅ Easy entry permission settings adjustment;|
|✅ Rapid installation with a possibility of further retrofitting;|
|✅ A possibility to grant lock access for a defined period;|
|✅ A possibility to delete lost or stolen keys from the system;|
|✅ An event log keeping feature;|
|✅ A possibility to program the replacement keys if needed.|
Electronic (or digital) locking systems
Electronic locks are the most innovative options available. To operate, this kind of locking system needs electricity. There should be a stable source of energy, and thus, you need to install a cable as well. Digital systems are very handy and provide a wide range of functions and features – for example, you may set a specific time for the door to lock and unlock automatically. Nowadays, you can even or use your smartphone to open the door via Wi-FI or Bluetooth!
Here are several kinds of electronic locks, that you should know about:
1. The RFID locking system
RFID stands for 'radio-frequency identification', which means recognition through electromagnetic waves. The contactless transmitter-receiver system identifies objects and people by using radio waves. It can be combined with an electronic door lock. In this case, a special chip must be programmed and built into a small transponder*, placed on the door. The authorization check is performed by the data transfer via the radio frequency. Depending on the provider, the guest's transponder can look like a key fob, card, special bracelet, etc.
* FYI: The word 'transponder' originates from the terms 'transmitter' and 'responder' and means a wireless communication device that receives incoming signals and automatically responds to them (or transmits them).
The RFID locks are widely used in hotels because the code cards can be reprogrammed for each guest. These are the advantages and disadvantages of RFID system:
|✅ Full-time control over the door;||❌ Higher cost compared to an ordinary lock;|
|✅ An opportunity to program the key for each guest specifically;||❌ In case of a power failure, an RFID lock cannot be opened.|
|✅ Suitable for disabled people with physical limitations;|
|✅ Low level of hack vulnerability.|
2. Code lock with PIN
This type of locks can be opened with a correct sequence of digits, entered on a keypad or touchpad. The input field is usually attached to a wall at a maximum of 50 cm from the code lock. Among other useful features, the software allows recording the time of access. Compared to the touchpads, keypads are splash-proof, have a smaller surface area, and thus are less vulnerable.
|✅ An opportunity to easily pass the PIN;||❌ It is possible that unauthorized persons can get the code and enter the building.|
|✅ Multi-user access;|
|✅ Possibility to use several PINs;|
|✅ Splash-proof keypads;|
|✅ Low level of vulnerability.|
3. Lock with a chip card
Electric door locks with a sensor and a chip card are extremely popular with hoteliers. First of all, they can be easily reprogrammed as well. Another factor that makes them attractively convenient is the ease of use for both guests and hotel employees.
|✅ Convenience for many users;||❌ Unfortunately, the card can be lost.|
|✅ An opportunity to pass the card on;|
|✅ Easy reprogramming.|
4. The lock with a smartphone control
The locking system with a smartphone app control is still relatively new. It allows users to enter the room or apartment using Bluetooth technology or Wi-Fi. Their possibilities and functions are endless! For example, you can significantly improve customer experience by combining the Mobile Check-In option with a possibility to open the door with a smartphone. This will save your guest’s time and let them avoid queueing at the reception. These locks can be easily integrated with your current Property Management System. The only drawback is that guests must always carry smartphones with them and keep the battery charged.
|✅ Fast Check-In possibility;||❌ Wireless connection is necessary;|
|✅ PMS integration;||❌ Availability of a smartphone with a charged battery is necessary as well.|
|✅ Easy door opening with a mobile phone;|
|✅ Various app functions;|
|• Multi-user access.|
However, despite all the advantages of the doorlocks with digital keys, many things aren’t clear at the first glance. How does it all work? Is it safe and secure? How to install and maintain your digital hotel lockset? For those who consider investing in this kind of technology, we’ve made a quick list of answers to some of the frequently asked questions:
1. How to install a digital hotel door lock?
If there is a maintenance team in your hotel, your staff will handle this task without any issues. Each lockset has detailed installation instructions, so with the right tools, almost anyone can set it up.
In most cases, you won't need to wire each door as smart hotel door locks get power from the batteries. The basic steps are practically the same as for installing a classic lock. Here's what you'll most likely need to do to have your new device up and running:
|Step 1:||Remove the old lockset.|
|Step 2:||Install the new keyless system in place following the official instructions.|
|Step 3:||Fit in the outer parts of the lock, such as the strike plates and the door handle.|
|Step 4:||Enter the passcode on the keypad.|
|Step 5:||Set up the application and program the lock to enable smartphone controls.|
These are general instructions, and the specifics of installation always depend on the lock type and model. However, keep in mind that the easiest way to upgrade your door would be choosing a retrofit smart lock. It does not require replacing your old deadbolt system altogether. If you don’t have a maintenance crew on-site, you can hire a locksmith, whose labor rate usually varies from $50 to $100.
2. How to maintain keyless hotel door locks?
The rules of digital entry system maintenance are quite simple. In fact, they are similar to the rules for preserving any electronic device. If you want your new locks to serve you for a long time, here is what to do:
- ● Regularly check the battery condition, replace the batteries, or charge them if they run low.
- ● Clean the locks from dirt and dust by wiping them with a soft cloth.
- ● Avoid sudden door slams and exclude the use of excessive force.
- ● Buy the right cleaning products for your appliances.
- ● Monitor the overall door condition and fix any breakdowns in time.
3. How to issue a digital key for hotel locks?
You can issue a digital key for an electronic door directly from your HotelFriend Property Management System. You can send a digital key to anybody who has a smartphone, with no need to hand over a physical key. For example, to issue such a key to your guests by email, you just need to click the Send Door Code button on the guest's booking card.
Before or at the time of arrival, the guest needs to download the HotelFriend Concierge App. The guest will receive a reservation pin by email, log in via the mobile application and then open the Salto door lock with an App. By the way, these digital locks can also enable you to grant access for selected timeframes and block users if you need.
4. How to use a digital key?
To open a keyless hotel lock with a smartphone, you just need to bring the phone close to the reader. If you want to know exactly how it works, we can use a Salto KS system as an example. So, here is how to open a hotel door lock with your phone:
- ● Step close to the lock and turn on Bluetooth on your device.
- ● Open the HotelFriend Concierge or Salto KS app and press the "Digital Key" button in the lower right corner of the screen. The app will transmit the digital key to the lock.
- ● Touch the lock reader with your smartphone. After the lock gives out a sound and a positive LED signal, you can enter the room.
You can also enter a PIN code in the Salto KS App and click “Unlock” in the App to unlock the door.
5. How to generate a PIN code for a smart lock?
Depending on the model, you can either create your own numerical code directly on the keypad or in the application. For your guests, the most convenient option would be to set their own combination of numbers that are easy to remember. The PIN code can play the role of an additional protective measure from unwanted access.
6. Do smart hotel locks work when the power is out?
Each hotel has its own specific system which works in its own way. However, most locks are battery powered which means that they have an autonomous power source. This way, when the lights are out in the hotel, the locks and keys will still work. These batteries can last for several years, and with timely replacement, you won’t face any problems.
In addition, smart locks have a built-in backup battery that lasts for several days. Such devices as VingCard and Saflok can also be opened with special remote control in case the batteries are dead. It grants additional power to the lock so that you can open it and enter the code.
7. Do electronic hotel doors lock automatically?
The availability of this feature also depends on the lock type and manufacturer. Some smart locks can block the door if it is open for some time. You can turn the auto-lock feature on or off in the app. Here, you can also set the desired timeframe, in which the door will close automatically. You can also set the option for the door to lock itself immediately after it was closed. Check with your lock provider if such a feature is available.
Choosing the right solution
After our brief introduction to mechanical, mechatronic, and electric locks, you may be considering one of the suggested options. But today, more hoteliers are opting for digital smart locks. They are reliable, beautiful, and functional. In combination with self-service options, they enable a perfectly connected digital journey for your guests.
How is this possible? For instance, HotelFriend integrates with famous door lock providers like Salto and dormakaba (we’ll tell more about them later on). And HotelFriend’s Concierge App helps your guests to get the most out of this integration. It helps to achieve the highest level of comfort by managing a hotel stay via this application.
- ● Your client books a room,
- ● Makes a mobile check-in as they please,
- ● Receives a digital room key,
- ● Opens it with a smartphone.
Then, they order services, chat with staff and make instant payments – all using their own devices. Maximum comfort and guest autonomy with minimal effort on the hotelier’s part!
Still, before making a choice, you need to know that each locking system has its own limitations and characteristics. Before investing in a certain type of lock, think about such points as the type of credentials, the type of card, the type of access and entry control.
1. Type of credentials: Key Cards or Numeric Codes?
Should you opt for the key cards or numeric codes? Well, using numeric codes for each door can lead to various complications, such as the need to change them frequently after each stay. Moreover, guests often forget the code they were assigned. And hotel Key Cards can be used by guests during their stay and returned on departure. It is better to change the codes each time the customer checks out.
2. The type of key card: RFID Cards, Magnetic Cards, Smart Cards?
Choosing between the RFID Cards, Magnetic Cards, and Smart Cards? Among these options, the RFID cards are the most popular. The smart cards are a high-frequency version with much larger storage capacity.
3. The type of access control
Consider your access requirements. For example, with cloud-based systems, you can change access settings from anywhere. This option is essential for hoteliers, who run their hotel remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. The type of entry control
Finally, when choosing a suitable solution, take a closer look at the aspect of entry control. As it was mentioned above, some types of locks may remain closed in case of power failure. To avoid major inconveniences during your hotel’s workflow, take into consideration these characteristics in the locking system´s description:
• Fail-safe - the system unlocks the door when the power is cut;
• Fail-secure - the system unlocks the door when the power is applied.
Best smart hotel lock manufacturers and suppliers
With a huge variety of available options on the market, finding the best supplier can be tricky. In this case, it is worth considering the industry leaders. We have compiled a small list of the best manufacturers of electronic door locks, whose products can be bought anywhere in the world, from the UK to Philippines:
Assa Abloy positions itself as a pioneer in the electronic door lock industry. The brand has been active on the market since 1994 and boasts a rich history. This smart door locks manufacturer is famous for a combination of reliability, innovation, and safety.
The company owns a wide range of brands that you have probably heard of at least once. The list includes such best-sellers as VingCard, Yale, Mult-T-Lock, August Home, ASSA, and Abloy, which are popular in the US, the United Kingdom, India, and all over the world. Other brands from this group are Corbin Russwin, Ikon, Tesa, Lockwood, and Medeco. Assa Abloy is one of the most trusted door lock manufacturers, that has all the necessary distinctions and certifications.
The best lock to use in a hotel: The VingCard series locks
- ● Ideal for new constructions
- ● Works with different RFID credentials, wireless
- ● Mobile-ready features available
- ● Trusted by Hilton and other big chains
This manufacturer of electronic access control systems and door locks is a true innovator. The supplier has been on the market for more than 20 years and is recognized as one of the most successful players. It provides a wide range of keyless solutions with a native cloud-based management platform.
Named Salto KS their smart lock system works with an App. It can connect with different Salto hardware, including door handles, electronic deadbolts, or wall sensors. The possibilities of the cloud-based software encompass an opportunity to update the locks online, keep track of all the doors in the building, and so on. Guests can use their smartphones instead of plastic key cards, which elevates the guest experience to new highs.
The best lock to use in hotels: Salto XS4 Original
- ● Perfect for retrofits
- ● HotelFriend’s integration partner
- ● RFID, NFC, and Bluetooth support
- ● Smartphone controls available
Dormakaba once was two different companies Dorma and Kaba, who decided to merge back in 2015. Since then, each of the companies has expanded their services with more options for extra hotel security.
The company owns and promotes such brands as Ilco, Dorma, Kaba, and GEGE. The majority of locks by this manufacturer work on RFID technology and are compatible with magnetic cards and smartphones. They can also be updated and managed over a wireless connection. Door lock solutions by dormakaba are ADA compliant and can be tailored according to your needs and visual taste.
The best locks to use in hotels: Kaba Ilco 770 lock series, Saflok MT RFID
- ● Great for retrofits
- ● HotelFriend’s integration partner
- ● Keycard staff audits in the cloud
- ● Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) compatible
Orbita is another reliable access control provider that has ISO certification and a long history of success. The company started doing business back in 2004 and now is well-represented in the UK, Malaysia, Brazil, and the Middle East. The customers of this company come from more than 100 countries, which makes Orbita locks a truly international product.
The hotel door entry systems by this brand are quite affordable, with prices ranging from $50 to $93 per piece. It mainly sells RFID cards and LED locks that can be used in hotels, offices, gyms, and other public spaces. Some locks can synchronize with the PMS like Opera and Fidelio.
The best lock to use in hotels: RF Split Keycard Lock S3072H
- ● CE & FCC Certified
- ● Integrates with most property management systems
- ● ANSI Standard mortise
- ● Works with encrypted RF cards
Godrej is one of the most popular hotel door lock manufacturers in India, which also gained recognition in the Middle East, Asia, the US, Europe, and other parts of the world.
Their Main Door Locks series is a great choice for forward-thinking hoteliers. Some of the locks offer enhanced security functions such as anti-prank alarms or an opportunity to add random numbers to your PIN to conceal the code in presence of strangers. For some models, you can also use a regular Power Bank as an emergency power supply in case the battery is completely discharged.
The best lock to use in hotels: Advantis – Revolution
- ● Supports a fingerprint sensor, RFID card reader, and mechanical keys
- ● An auto-locking function
- ● Privacy function
- ● Compatible with video door phones
Average prices for hotel door lock systems
The cost of door lock systems varies considerably depending on the type and manufacturer. In general, it is worth including not only the cost of a lockset in your calculations but also the costs of installation, power supply and maintenance. Below we will give approximate prices for different types of hotel room locks according to Costimates, excluding any extra spending.
Standard prices for various hotel entry solutions (per door) are as follows:
- ● The average cost of keypad or touchpad locks depending on the quality and style varies from $50 to $400.
- ● The cost of an RFID Door Lock System like Saflok InSync Deadbolt or VingCard Classic lies in the range from $100 to $300.
- ● A WiFi Hotel Door Lock like Yale Assure costs between $200 to $300.
- ● Bluetooth Hotel Locks like Kwikset Aura or SALTO XS4 Original+ will cost you around $140 and $600.
If you are interested in locks that can be opened with a smartphone, the average price here starts at $500. Installing such a smart lock can be a bit more expensive, but this investment always pays off over time. After all, digital door locks guarantee security, and are more convenient than conventional key fobs, regular keys, or plastic cards, offering unlimited cloud possibilities.
We believe that our overview of the most popular hotel door locking systems will be of use while making your decision. But no matter what you choose, it can be perfectly compatible with HotelFriend’s Hotel Management Software. It will help you to handle room access easily, simultaneously adding value to your rooms and remarkably enhancing guest experience. It can also help you to relieve strain on staff by providing guests with self-service alternatives. Do not hesitate to contact us and get our professional consulting.