Guests use many criteria to choose a hotel: price, amenities, customer service, ambience and in today’s connected world — social media. When you’re in the hospitality business, social media can be a two-edged sword. Facebook and Instagram can be your best friends as long as guests post pictures of themselves having the times of their lives. However, let anything go amiss, and these same guests can turn on you, spreading their gripes and groans for all their friends (and their friends’ friends) to see. Even worse, in these times when safety and security concerns are a staple of our lives, let even one person post on Yelp that his or her room was broken into, or one piece of jewelry went missing, and your worldwide reputation could be damaged. As a hotel proprietor, you can’t control your guests’ social media accounts, but you can control the keys that keep your hotel safe and secure. One of the most efficient ways to keep track of your keys around-the-clock is with a key control system.
What Is a Key Control System?
A key control system consists of a tamper-proof box for storing keys and/or key cards to be accessed only by authorized staff, but that’s just the beginning. Thanks to user-friendly software controlling the box, it keeps track of who has the key and when. Should anyone else (even other authorized staff try to return it) the system will send an alert or email to management. In this way, key control systems not only provide tracking of keys throughout the day, but they provide an audit trail for police and insurance investigators, should a room’s security be breached and/or a theft occur.
How Does a Key Control System Work?
When an authorized employee needs a particular key or key card, he or she must check it out of the locked “smart” box — using a PIN, badge, fingerprint or other biometric form of authentication to gain access. When employees are finished with the key, either at day’s end or when they no longer need it, they must log it back in to its place, using the same form of authentication. This enables the key control system to track which keys were pulled, by whom and for what reason. A comprehensive key control system will allow management to track activity by key; employee; time; and building, room or outdoor location.
Other Areas Where a Key Control System Is Necessary
- Key control systems can limit access to outdoor storage areas that house pieces of equipment that keep your hotel running.
- The limit can restrict vehicle ignition key access to designated licensed and insured drivers.
- The same goes for landscaping equipment, such as chainsaws and power mowers, that require training or skill for safe usage.
- They can restrict access to computers, cabinets, and files that store guests’ personal information or credit card data, allowing only authorized staff entry during restricted office hours.
- Temporary staff and contractors can be issued access to keys, but only for the time they will be needed, with access to be revoked electronically at a set time.
- They enforce company key policy since employees have no choice but to follow protocol.
Key control systems improve workflow since they relieve staff of the need to sign keys in and out throughout the day. The reports they generate can be used for other purposes besides security. The data generated can serve as a time sheet, rather than requiring each person to clock in and out. This makes work easier for the payroll department as well. Daily usage reports can also be used, not only for judging the operating efficiency of the hotel, but as proof to insurance companies that you are reducing liability in case of possible lawsuits or other customer actions. Bonus: These reports just might lower your premiums! Some things never change. It is safe to surmise that when the first keys were invented, it didn’t take long for individuals to lose or misplace their keys. It goes with the territory. Key control systems can’t prevent this from happening, but they can give you the ability to monitor and locate your hotel’s keys in real time — even send an alert to management should an employee, inadvertently or advertently, start to walk off the premises with the key. Not only does this reduce the possibility of it landing in the wrong hands, it saves you the cost of having a replacement cut.