The hospitality industry can be an exciting and rewarding place to work. But it is fast-paced, demanding, and often unpredictable.
Things can go wrong at a moment’s notice, even at the most well-run hotel or resort. That is why many forward-thinking venues are looking to new digital tools and automation technology to help them improve their housekeeping efficiency and maintenance efficiency.
RFID tracking systems can revolutionize hotel and resort operations. But is RFID the right solution for your venue? Usually, you must understand how RFID works, so your business can deploy it effectively without wasting precious time or money. Guests won’t think twice about leaving a bad review because you’re struggling with new hotel housekeeping technology deployment.
This article explains what RFID is, how RFID tracking can help your business, and how RFID key and asset tracking systems are used today in hospitality.
What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?
RFID stands for radio frequency identification, which is a short-range wireless communication standard. RFID tags securely transmit their identity and other important data when placed close to scanners—for example, tap-to-pay credit cards.
RFID technology for hotels offers a few key advantages over other major wireless standards. Most notably, it doesn’t require line-of-sight to work, and signals can pass through wood, plastic, and other common building materials. That means scanners can read separate tags even inside a scanned toolkit, hard case, or other boxes. However, it is important to know that metal reflects RFID signals, so it might not be the best choice in some venues that incorporate large metal surfaces into their interior design.
How Do Hotel RFID Key and Asset Tracking Systems Work?
RFID tracking systems are powerful, flexible technologies that hotels and resorts can easily customize to the ways they work. While the specific installation different venues will use varies, these systems are always built from a few essential core components: storage cabinets, RFID tags, readers and access terminals, and management software.
RFID tracking systems may be advanced, smart technology, but they must still be built on top of secure, reliable storage cabinets. These hold keys, mobile devices, and other important equipment when those assets aren’t used. In addition, cabinets often include charging ports to ready electronic devices and data cables for fault monitoring.
Advanced tracking system cabinets are modular, meaning you can stack and configure them for different floor plans and use cases. For example, a resort with a golf course and other recreation venues may need to store landscaping equipment and toolkits for repairs. A city center hotel may want rows and rows of key racks for the keys to its doors and closets.
RFID tags power modern tracking systems. In hotels, the most common variety is a passive tag without an onboard battery. Think of the small RFID chips embedded in credit cards. They transmit their identity when someone brings them close to an RFID reader on the exterior of a storage cabinet or distributed throughout your facility.
Active-powered RFID tags with a built-in battery are also available. They have a greater range but are also bulkier and more expensive, making them suitable only for tracking especially high-value assets.
In hotel tracking systems, the tags are usually attached or embedded into equipment. For keys, that typically takes the form of an RFID fob attached to the key ring that doubles as the locking mechanism in the storage cabinet. Tagging varies much more with equipment and kit items. Some electronics, like hotel radios and mobile devices, come with embedded RFID tags or a fob slot where you can add one. With other equipment, you need to attach the tag to the exterior.
RFID readers emit a radio signal that bounces off nearby tags and returns identity data. These transactions happen in seconds, and readers can scan multiple tags simultaneously. Most hotel RFID tracking systems will have a reader mounted on or near the storage cabinets so your staff can scan items as they take or return them.
The access terminal on the front of the storage cabinet is your staff’s primary interface with your hotel’s RFID tracking system. Users authenticate themselves at the terminal when they want to sign out or return a stored item. In addition, access terminals can utilize one more access control method, such as swipe cards, PIN codes, or biometrics, such as fingerprint, iris eye scan, or facial recognition.
Advanced tracking systems use touchscreens for access terminals for customized workflows. For example, when a housekeeper signs out cleaning gear, you can present checklists to ensure they have everything they need for better quality control. You can use these checklists to gather valuable transactions and use information.
Data from the RFID readers, cabinets, and access terminal all flow back to a software management dashboard that hotel and resort managers use to get real-time tracking data on RFID-tagged equipment and keys. Modern software dashboards are designed as web apps, which means they’re accessible from any company device, like authorized desktop computers at the front desktop or in the back office or smartphones and tablets in the field.
Through the dashboard, your managers can receive real-time tracking alerts if keys or equipment are overdue for return. Your managers can also generate reports that show them detailed tracking histories. As a result, they can help identify meaningful trends you might not see otherwise. For example, is second shift housekeeping always late returning tablets? Is one user responsible for an overwhelming majority of key losses?
How Can RFID Tracking Systems Help Hotel Operations?
RFID tracking systems improve operations in many important ways.
Use Cases for RFID Tracking Systems at Hotels and Resorts
Discover the Power of RFID for Hotels and Resorts
See how RFID tracking systems work, how they’re used in various industries today, and some best practices for adapting them to your organization’s workflows.
Vice President of Marketing