Identifying the best security tools that actually align with your hotel’s needs can be challenging. Even just researching new systems can feel like wading through a sea of buzzwords. RFID, analytics, IoT. It’s frustrating trying to figure out what’s actually relevant for your particular facility.

While all three of those examples—RFID, the Internet of Things, and data analytics—are incredibly powerful tools for hotel security, you shouldn’t focus just on technical details. We’ve found through working with many different hotels and resorts all over the world that what actually matters isn’t tied to any one specific tech.

Here are four critical aspects of security systems to consider for your hospitality venue. We’ll also explain those buzzwords on the way.

1) Longevity

There are two forms of longevity that matter. The first is more obvious: a security system’s expected life cycle. The longer a technology can remain in use, the greater the value of your initial capital investment.

This could mean asset lockers with a durable frame that can hold up to years of heavy use by your service team. Or switching to a new overall key and asset tracking system that uses RFID key fobs designed to be maintenance-free with a lifetime guarantee.

There’s another type of longevity to consider too: your relationship with your security solution provider. Finding a team of security professionals willing to understand your needs can turn that relationship into a business partnership as you evaluate, maintain, and eventually retire each technology. Managing each of those phases efficiently also creates value for your hotel.

We hit the first buzzword in there: RFID. Radio Frequency Identification is a short-range wireless communications technology. It allows electronic devices and unpowered ‘tags’ to communicate directly with each other, without contact or wires, such as between a proximity card and card reader.

2) Scalability

Since most hotels can’t replace their entire security infrastructure all at once, identifying a security system that can properly expand or scale lets you address immediate needs on a set budget without compromising future upgrades.

It’s especially important to seek out scalable solutions if there are new workflows emerging at your hotel. Changing operations usually mean changing security needs. For example, many hotels are now provisioning tablets for service staff. They make housekeeping management and other operations much simpler. Other uses seem very likely. But the tablets are an easy target for theft. A scalable electronic asset locker system can secure and track transactions of those mobile devices, and can easily expand as those other uses are discovered and more mobile, networked, and IoT devices work their way into hotel operations.

There’s another buzzword: the Internet of Things. The IoT is all of the new consumer and business equipment that now includes an embedded internet connection. This equipment is able to send information about itself directly to people and other electronic systems. IoT devices may use RFID to communicate, or standard WiFi, or soon an emerging NB-IoT wireless system built on top of existing cell networks for outdoors use.

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3) Reporting

If you don’t have data showing that your security program is working, then you’re not actually secured. Many hospitality groups and insurance providers make this explicit with audit and compliance standards.

Automated data collection in newer security systems make meeting compliance standards much easier, and automating this work frees up the staff time spent on manual reporting for actual revenue-generating work.

Collected data can also be used to perform advanced analytics that give you better insight on your hotel’s operations. Records pulled from transaction logs can also be valuable evidence in criminal investigations or evidence in lawsuits brought against your hotel.

There was the last buzzword: data analytics. This is the process of using computer-based tools to identify patterns, trends, and meaningful changes in large amounts of collected data. Is a housekeeping staffer signing out one of those new tablets at the end of the shift every day and not returning it until morning? Is the same concierge signing out sets of master keys the day before each is reported lost? Advanced security management systems can analyze and automatically identify changes in user behavior for you.

4) Integration

While some hotels may have the budget to replace their entire security infrastructure in one fell swoop, that’s not often an option. This makes it extremely important to consider how well new security technologies integrate with existing systems.

Take the housekeeping tablet example from above. If you need to purchase a new set of asset lockers to secure them, can you use the same management system you use to secure your back of the house keys? You could save on physical space if they use the same rack mounting, as well as on overhead and training costs if they use the same IT infrastructure and management tools.

There are many things to consider when choosing new security systems for your hotel. New technologies matter, but only when they fit into your hotel’s overall security and loss prevention plan. Integration, scalability, longevity, and reporting features are much more important to consider to that end.

Learn what else to look for in new security technologies for your hotel.

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on July 19, 2017, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.