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Hospitality Blog

A Look at What’s Next in Hotel Security Technology

By Stig Lagerstedt 29. June 2023



The hotel industry is constantly evolving, and with the rapid advancement of technology, security measures are also undergoing significant transformations. As potential safety risks continue to increase in both number and ingenuity, industry solution providers are on the front lines of developing new technologies while improving older ones in order to provide hoteliers and their guests with a vital edge over would-be intruders.

Yet with the seemingly limitless supply of new solutions and capabilities vying for hotel business budgets, industry professionals can easily lose focus over what is most important to ensuring the safety of both guests and staff. To sidestep unnecessary guesswork, this blog will focus on the latest security technology trends that should be on the radar of any hotelier aiming to keep pace with evolving industry standards and expectations.


New Advances in Keycard Capabilities

Keycards may have been a staple technology in hotels for decades, but they nonetheless continue to evolve and provide businesses with exciting new possibilities. Originally introduced to the market using magstripe-based functionality, keycards now more commonly leverage RFID capabilities featuring enhanced data encryption. Yet even RFID data encryption standards aren’t immune to technology progression, with the latest protocols currently including MIFARE Ultralight AES, Mifare Plus EV1/EV2, and DESFire EV2/EV3. In today’s industry, RFID-based keycards even provide hotels with the ability to track and monitor room access in real-time when supported by an appropriate access management system, allowing employees to proactively respond to threats as they arise.

Maximizing both hotel security and guest convenience is the more recent ability to use a single RFID keycard credential to gain access to other property areas in addition to the guestroom. Hotel goals to restrict the entry of unauthorized visitors to swimming pools, fitness centers and other public onsite locations can often frustrate legitimate guests tasked with keeping track of multiple keys throughout the course of their stay. RFID keycards combined with a compatible access management system can bypass this issue entirely. Using just one keycard, guests can now effortlessly traverse a property’s premises, from using building entrances to elevators in order to change floors- all while eliminating potential security loopholes that intruders may try to exploit.

Security abilities aside, recent developments in keycard trends are also addressing growing expectations for enhanced personalization and business sustainability. For example, hoteliers now have an increasingly wider array of options when selecting a physical credential that meets specific guest needs- including wristbands, key fobs and badges. With regards to earning and maintaining an eco-friendly reputation, keycards made from sustainable materials can significantly reduce a property’s environmental footprint while still utilizing the latest RFID security protections.


The Latest in Hotel Digital Key Services

Since being launched, digital key solutions have come to represent the ultimate in guest convenience by providing instant guestroom access and bypassing check-in wait times. However, the technology has by no means remained static and instead continues to evolve in line with changing guest behaviors and preferences. One influential trend has been the rise of mobile payment systems and consumers storing credit cards electronically within digital wallets on their personal device. Over time, digital wallets have progressed to now also provide options to store and use electronic plane tickets, bus passes, event passes and much more.

Providing guests with the ability to store and use guestroom keys within digital wallets is a natural progression of the industry’s commitment to ensuring faster and more convenient service. Without having to navigate around an unfamiliar hotel mobile app, guests can now effortlessly locate their digital room key the moment it is needed. They can also seamlessly manage all keys, credit cards and tickets associated with their trip from a single location- providing the enhanced personalized convenience that more and more of today’s travelers are coming to expect.


A New World of Possibilities for Hotel Access Management Systems

In today’s hotel industry, decentralized data and siloed operations are fast becoming a thing of the past. Modern businesses are now moving towards the adoption of cloud-based systems that are accessible from virtually anywhere and that are far better equipped in maintaining the efficient flow of daily tasks and processes.  

Regarding a hotel’s security operations, cloud-based access management technology is already demonstrating its immense value in making properties safer, while boosting productivity and the ability to keep pace with new industry trends. As a solution that exists entirely offsite, cloud-based access management platforms merely require an automatic software update in order to retain a high level of protection against newly discovered vulnerabilities. By centralizing all features and functionalities into one platform securely accessible online, cloud-based systems are also taking over the industry thanks to lessening the strain on overstretched employees while drastically speeding up response times to security threats as they arise.

While the priority of cloud-based access management is to focus on boosting property security, its onsite server-free design is also proving to be game-changing in improving the overall quality of guest stay experiences. With no onsite system hardware compatibility issues to contend with, cloud-based access management is inherently more flexible and better suited to integrating with other property systems or services. This may include integrating with a hotel’s energy management system to lower utility costs while maintaining comfortable conditions within guestrooms the moment that they become occupied.

The point is that unlike legacy access management solutions, cloud-based alternatives sidestep potential compatibility issues that can increase deployment costs, reduce efficiency and can even prevent anticipated new features from functioning as expected. Able to facilitate integrations with solutions that have not even been created yet, cloud-based access management systems undoubtedly represent the industry’s future as more businesses aim to stay a step ahead of the latest service trends and guest expectations.  


Keeping an Eye on the Growing Influence of IoT

Closely following cloud-based technology in generating buzz around the global hotel industry is the growing prevalence of IoT-enabled solutions. Consisting of a number of interconnected devices and systems that can share data and coordinate an appropriate response automatically, IoT technologies including chatbots, smart thermostats and lights are steadily becoming commonplace throughout much of the industry as a means to provide ever more responsive, customized and higher quality service. 

However, IoT technology also stands to drastically enhance the abilities of hoteliers in keeping both guests and staff safe from harm. For example, the deployment of motion sensors can serve as a far more effective means of alerting personnel to potential intruders within restricted areas. More advanced security cameras can likewise now detect suspicious activity and can alert staff to issues including a potential fire or theft.

One IoT-based security solution that is already experiencing industry-wide adoption are hotel employee safety alert devices. Leveraging a combination of location, IoT and cloud-based technologies, these platforms importantly allow staff to receive immediate assistance in the event of encountering a threat to their security. With just a push of a button on a personally equipped alert device, hotel staff can instantly alert security personnel and provide them with their real-time location details in order to ensure a rapid response. As the need for ever faster responses to potential security risks increases, IoT’s role as a means to maximize efficiency in maintaining guest and staff safety is undoubtedly set to expand further in the years ahead.    


A Bright Future for Biometrics

Although still in its infancy for much of the hospitality industry, biometrics is increasingly gaining interest as a way to take hotel security and guest experiences to new heights. Identifying guests and staff using methods such as iris scanning or facial recognition technology, biometrics are virtually impossible to replicate and therefore can minimize the risks of unauthorized room or building entry even further.

 While enhancing a hotel’s security, biometrics also hold the promise of drastically boosting both guest convenience and service personalization. Arriving guests, for example, can be instantly identified and have offerings or staff interactions instantly tailored to them depending on their current mood and onsite location. Yet as the technology continues to advance and gain a greater presence within the industry, hoteliers and solution providers will likely have to identify an adequate balance of enhancing service quality while respecting guest privacy needs.


Look to the Industry’s Experts When in Doubt

With advances in security technology occurring at an ever faster rate and unlikely to slow down for the foreseeable future, industry professionals should continue to maintain a watchful eye over ongoing trends. To serve the best needs of their business and preserve revenue, hoteliers should always seek out the advice of established and reputable security solution providers. Armed with such support, industry professionals can be in a far better position to determine whether a new technology represents a mere fad, or instead symbolizes a game-changing shift over what counts as a safe, modern and enjoyable hotel environment.


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Stig Lagerstedt's photo

By: Stig Lagerstedt

Stig is VP of Hospitality Solutions for ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions and responsible for ensuring that company market strategies and innovation efforts align with customer needs. He is a member of our team for more than 20 years and recognized as an established expert in hospitality technology. Stig has played a central role in the acquiring of several company patents that have pushed industry security and operational efficiency abilities to new heights.

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