Science plus security

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 February, 2012, 12:00am


Hotel guests can now check-in to their rooms immediately upon arrival at their preferred 5-star accommodation without the hassle of waiting in reception.

It is happening in tech-savvy hotels worldwide, including in Hong Kong, and leading the pack in rolling out this digital option is The Peninsula, which is part of the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels group.

It has begun a two-phase project to adopt an radio frequency identification (RFID) solution that aims to enhance guests' experience - from the time they arrive to accessing their rooms and other areas.

The Peninsula is equipping its 300 rooms and suites with RFID. The first phase has begun with completion expected in August.

With RFID electronic door locks, guests only need to pass their key in front of the door reader and they can quickly and securely enter their room.

'One of the key features of this new technology is enhanced security,' says Shane Izaks, general manager, information technology of group.

'With the use of online technology, we can quickly re-key the doors in case they lose their key, or if a guest is worried about his door not being properly locked, we can lock it off as well.'

Elsewhere, Starwood Hotels and Resorts has also set its sights on exploiting RFID technology to roll out an automatic check-in programme. Starwood's Aloft Lexington Hotel in Massachusetts has been using an RFID access-control system that allows members of its Starwood Preferred Guest programme to skip the check-in process using their card which serves as a contactless room key.

Guests receive a text message containing their room number, along with information regarding when that room will be available.

Upon arrival, visitors can go directly to their room and gain entry using their RFID-enabled member card.

Hotels in Paris and Madrid are also testing RFID applications to provide a communication tool to locate themselves and their companions within the hotel, and for cashless payment.

RFID chips are also used to keep track and monitor the whereabouts of towels and other linen.

Using a monitoring system, each asset of the hotel is scanned and monitored to and from the laundry, in and out of linen closets and even at pool and beach kiosks.

This is all done in real time, and the system provides insights via its reporting and analytics engine.