Everyone’s needs are in flux too, as hotels, resorts, and every venue in the hospitality industry struggles to understand what the volatile market wants in 2023 and beyond. However, those able to adapt can expect to thrive. They need to think about their hotel security strategies.
This article guides you through the swamp of buzzwords and shows you ten features that actually matter in hotel security and management systems. If you’re looking for a technology to solve an ops or customer service problem, then this article will help you identify which products will actually generate value and offer a better experience for your guests today and tomorrow.
10 Security System Features That Actually Matter
We’ve had to rethink many aspects of business management with the shift towards hybrid working—team building, performance management, and project management are all affected. Emergency management is just another aspect to rethink, but one many companies are only getting to now.
Here are some best practices to follow when revising your emergency management program to account for hybrid working plans.
Process control capability
Many hotels are looking for ways to leverage ops technology to help them do more with fewer staff members. Labor markets remain tight, and many hotels and other venues find themselves stretched too thin turning over rooms on schedule and keeping guests happy.
To streamline hotel operations, you want better process control, a business concept borrowed from the manufacturing world. Put simply, process control means designing hotel work processes so they happen as consistently and efficiently as possible. You look for ways to reduce unexpected events from slowing down your service without hurting quality.
Provisioning housekeeping and customer service staff with tablets help you get up-to-the-second tracking on room turnovers and guest requests. Using tablets to mediate housekeeping work provides hotel security managers with better insights. It makes work easier for staff by offering checklists and easy communication with supervisors and coworkers so they can always get what they need.
But tablet-managed process control only works if you have a reliable way to store, charge, and distribute tablets, like a hotel MDM system (Mobile device management). So look for smart security locker systems that offer consistent, reliable process control capabilities. Make sure they have the smart data collection capabilities to reveal who has which devices, which are charged so they’ll last an entire shift, and when devices are overdue for return so you can find them before they’re misplaced.
Flexible configuration options
No two venues are the same, and just because hotel security systems look good on a website or in video demos doesn’t mean they will fit within the floorspace you have available. Look for a system with flexible configuration options so you can customize it to work with the equipment you need to store in your available space. To help with that, some hotel equipment management systems have a modular design that allows you to mix and match the compartment types you need.
Ventilated compartments with charging ports keep electronic devices cooled and ready for the next shift. High-grade steel compartments hold valuables for your hotel or guests with tight access controls.
Security system integration
While some hotels may have the budget to replace their entire security infrastructure in one fell swoop, that’s not often an option. Considering how well new security technologies integrate with your existing systems is important.
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 hotel security 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 and overhead and training costs if they use the same IT infrastructure and management tools.
Content surveillance tools monitor equipment while they’re in a hotel asset security system. Sensors in locker compartments can verify that workers sign out and return the correct assets when they log a transaction.
Think about your hotel security risks. Suppose a disgruntled employee tried to record a returned tablet but kept it for themselves. In that case, the content surveillance system could identify that they never placed the specific tablet they signed back in the locker.
Locker systems equipped with wired and wireless content surveillance can record issues and send alerts to supervisors whenever there is an issue with a sensitive piece of equipment. They can automate parts of your hotel safety and security checklist.
You can also use wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on important assets, including individual kit components. RFID signals work through plastic cases so the locker system can scan every component at once.
Any basic security locker system offers some level of access control. You can't get in if you don’t have the key or PIN code. Simple enough, but that often isn’t enough control.
What you’re looking for is access control that improves your hotel workflows. Access control that offers the right level of security and automated management over who uses which devices and when.
This is a feature area where you need to balance security, usability, and cost. The more secure access control methods, like biometrics, tend to come at a higher price point and typically exceed the level of security a hotel would want. They’re likely not worth the cost. Midrange options, like swipe cards or RFID tokens, often hit that sweet spot for hotels between protecting valuable assets and keeping workers moving efficiently.
Good business decision-making requires good data. So look for hotel security systems that provide the raw data you need to make informed decisions that help you cut costs and increase revenue.
For example, are your housekeepers logging technical issues with one specific model of tablet? You might want to investigate and update your procurement plans for the next quarter. Is one shift reporting the majority of your equipment losses? You might want to instruct supervisors to manage those employees differently.
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 return on your initial capital investment.
That 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 is another type of longevity to consider, too: your relationship with your hospitality security solutions provider. Finding a team of security professionals who 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.
Since most venues can’t replace their entire hotel safety and security infrastructure all at once, identifying a security system that can properly expand or scale lets you address immediate needs on a budget without compromising future upgrades.
It’s especially important to seek scalable IoT solutions for hotels if new workflows emerge at your hotel. Changing operations usually means changing security needs—for example, provisioning tablets to service staff.
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 devices work their way into hotel operations.
If you don’t have data showing that your security program is working, 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 makes meeting compliance standards much easier. In addition, automating this work frees up the staff time spent on manual reporting for revenue-generating work.
You can also use collected data to perform advanced analytics that gives you better insight into 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.
Look for systems built using smart technology. Smart technology can manage itself and its environment based on data from embedded sensors. For example, a user might say they’re signing back in a laptop holding customer billing data, but content surveillance sensors record that they returned a different laptop in its place. The smart storage system can then issue an emergency alert to a manager.
Smart systems are useful for managing day-to-day issues as well. For example, if a user returning a handheld device reports a technical problem, the system can prompt them to place the device in a specially-designated maintenance locker. Then, an automatically generated message to technical support notifies them of the issue and confirms that the device is waiting for pickup.
Security strategy for hotels is a complex topic. There are many things to consider when choosing new security systems for your hotel. But if you are looking for new hotel security systems with these ten features, you’re already on the right track.
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About the Author
Vice President of Marketing
Jay oversees marketing and strategic partnerships at Real Time Networks and has over three decades of experience in leadership roles in the financial services and technology industries.