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The Ultimate Guide to Hotel Door Lock Systems 2024

Need to upgrade your hotel door locks or looking to add keyless entry but don't know where to start with all the options on the market? Our analysts break down what you need to know.

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Jordan Hollander in Guest Experience

Last updated May 09, 2024

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If you’re building a new hotel or upgrading hotel rooms in an existing property, you may feel overwhelmed at the plethora of door lock options. Hotel door locks today are more complicated than simple deadbolts and door handles.  Electronic door locks in the hospitality industry require access control mechanisms and even keyless entry software systems to operate in a way that meets evolving guest expectations.  Door locks, besides providing a simple security measure, give you an opportunity to provide a better guest experience when you choose the right one for your property. Wondering how to choose? In this article, we’ll explain the various types of door lock systems and hardware, and we’ll provide some key considerations in making your decision. Let’s get started!

Lock Types

Full body vs. Separate Component

While door locks might seem like a somewhat trivial part of the guest experience, they can actually create either a frictionless experience or cause a big headache for guests and employees. Since door locks are present not only on guestroom doors but also on amenity areas (gym, business center, etc.) and exterior entrances, guests and employees will interact with them frequently. The first decision you’ll need to make is which type of door lock hardware is best: full-body locks or separate component locks. What’s the difference?

 

Full-body locks

Also known as unibody locks, full-body locks are one single piece of hardware. The handle, reader, and locking mechanism are one structure. Full-body locks come in a variety of finishes, like stainless steel, and the battery is often housed on the inside side of the lock. These locks usually require little to no modification on the actual door, meaning they’re quick and easy to install. Although they might look a little clunky, they cover roughly the same surface area as a traditional magstripe lock, so they’re a good solution if you want to upgrade from your old magstripe system with minimal modifications to the door.

 

Separate component locks

As the name suggests, separate component locks include two separate pieces: a reader and a lock handle. These locks take up much less real estate on the door, giving them a more minimalist look, but the installation is slightly more complicated as it requires two steps - installing the handle and installing the reader. However, separate component locks give you more flexibility for future lock upgrades or changes since they have a smaller footprint on the door, and since most store the battery inside the door itself, these locks have a more attractive design.

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Technology Types

Magstripe, Pincode, Bluetooth & RFID

Now that we’ve explained the two main types of door lock hardware, you may be wondering which type of unlocking technology is best. Software and hardware must work seamlessly to facilitate a seamless customer journey via the internet of things.  Unless you’re a historic B&B, perhaps, you probably won’t be using mechanical door locks with a traditional key. Instead, you’ll want to bring your property into the 21st century with a secure and convenient electronic locking system. The four most popular types of door lock technology are magstripe, PIN code, RFID, and BLE. That’s a lot of acronyms, so let’s explore each one in more detail.

 

Magstripe

These old-school locks were once the cutting edge of lock technology, but today, many hoteliers are eager to upgrade to a more secure system. Guests or employees unlock magstripe locks with a keycard that has a magnetic strip, similar to a credit card. The keycard can be programmed to allow access to only certain rooms or during a specific timeframe. However, magstripe locks are notoriously glitchy, and the keycard can be easily deactivated near electronic devices (like smartphones), so many guests run into lockout situations that require them to return to the front desk to reactivate their keycards - not an ideal experience!

 

PIN Code

Many locks require an access item for entry, like a keycard, fob, or smartphone, but a PIN code lock only requires a numerical code. A PIN code lock has a keypad where users can type in their code. Simple PIN code locks have a static code that doesn’t change (unless you change it manually), but today many electronic PIN code locks allow codes to be changed remotely and as often as necessary. Certain PIN code locks even integrate with your property management system and automatically assign a unique code to each reservation. While guests don’t need to carry around a key for these locks, they do need to remember their code.

 

RFID

Radio frequency identification technology is becoming increasingly common as a better version of magstripe locks. Instead of magnetic stripe keycards, RFID keycards are embedded with an RFID chip that is not easily deactivated and can store more data and permissions than a magstripe keycard can. To unlock the lock, guests simply wave the RFID card in front of the reader, so it’s less error-prone than swiping a magstripe keycard. While RFID technology sounds like the obvious upgrade from magstripe locks, it’s important to note that RFID keycards are significantly more expensive than magstripe keycards.

 

BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)

Though it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, Bluetooth low energy locks allow guests to unlock doors with their smartphones. The smartphone sends an encrypted “message” to the lock so only guests or employees with the right permissions can gain entry, meaning this type of lock is very secure - especially since there’s no possibility of losing a physical keycard. One hurdle in BLE lock adoption is the requirement that guests download an app that works with the lock system, but in recent years guests have gotten more accustomed to digital hotel amenities, so the app download isn’t as much of an obstacle. In fact, BLE locks can be a big benefit in today’s hotel landscape since they are totally contactless - guests can check in online, bypass the front desk, and let themselves into their room.

Top Brands and Lock Models

1. VingCard Essence (by ASSA ABLOY)

VingCard Essence revolutionizes the electronic lock industry by housing all lock components, including the reader and mobile access board, inside the door and, therefore, reaching the maximum minimalistic expression, the true essence of an electronic lock. VingCard Essence is always delivered as Mobile Access ready. With a Mobile Access board included inside the reader, your property is prepared for using the mobile phone as a guest room key whenever required. Learn more

  • Ideal for: New Construction

  • Mobile Access compatible

  • RF Online capability (wireless)

  • Minimalistic design with electronics placed inside the door

  • RFID reader with improved reading distance

  • Provides a wide range of design options for handles

 

With Signature RFID you are provided with a stylish and modern lock that appeals to the modern environment. Signature RFID is less on the door while more in terms of functionality for you and your users. Learn more

  • Ideal for: New Construction/ Retrofits and new installations
  • Provides a wide range of design options for handles
  • Mobile Access compatible
  • RF Online capability (wireless)
  • Power over Ethernet Online capability (wired)

 

Classic RFID offers the latest Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and the quickest path to go contactless if you currently have standard Classic VingCard electronic locks installed. Learn more

  • Ideal for:  Retrofits/Upgrades of old magnetic stripe
  • Classic locks to a modern platform 
  • Mobile Access compatible RF
  • Online capability (wireless) RFID reader technology, no moving reader parts, and less maintenance

 

The VingCard E100 with RFID reader is compatible with your VingCard Visionline system. With a wide range of escutcheons for different regions and cylinder profiles, the E100 can be used with various standard and narrow profile lock cases. The range is suitable for guest room doors and back-of-house applications where the door types can vary. Learn more

  • Compatible with a wide range of lock cases; narrow style (backset down to 40mm) suitable for aluminum framed glass doors, hood bolt lock cases suitable for sliding doors.
  • Easy to use for retrofitting other locks
  • The premium version can be used for doors that are part of escape routes
  • The premium version can be used for fire doors and smoke control doors
  • Good resistance towards corrosion

 

Engineered using a combination of advanced security and guest enhancing technology, there’s more than one reason why VingCard Novel represents the future of electronic locks for hospitality. VingCard Novel is an aesthetically attractive product with modern and powerful electronics that is ready for enabling our Mobile Access and online technology when our customers require it. With sustainable manufacturing materials, reduced weight and packaging volume, plus an optional charger for battery-free operation, VingCard Novel takes its responsibility of protecting the environment seriously. Learn more

  • Supports the latest RFID technology
  • Supports Mobile Access
  • Supports Zigbee Online
  • Fire listed (UL, BS, EN)
  • ANSI BHMA certified
  • EN certified
  • ADA compliant (users with physical disabilities)
  • Sustainable manufacturing processes and materials
  • Aesthetically appealing anodized finishes available
  • Designed for both indoor and outdoor use in all weather conditions
  • Optional high security mechanical override cylinder
  • Battery-free option available - no battery change needed
  • Compatible with Vostio Access Management

 

6. Saflok QuantumIII (by Dormakaba)

The Saflok QuantumIII electronic lock offers a unique and award winning two-piece modular design with an RFID card reader for a sleek look and superior lock performance. Easy to use, the lock works with the Windows-based System 6000™, Messenger LENS™ online wireless system. The Saflok QuantumIII accepts Mifare Plus credentials for enhanced functionality.The lock is also able to operate using the Kaba Mobile Key System and can be offered with one of the following Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) options: compatible, ready or enabled. Learn more

 

7. Confidant RFID (by Dormakaba)

The Confidant RFID asserts a softer, more engaging look to reflect true hospitality. Together with graceful lines and clean aesthetics, its RFID contactless technology enhances the guest experience while extending the 
service life of the lock. This ultra-modern lock conveniently functions with dormakaba access management software and stand-alone device.  Learn more

 

8. Saflok MT RFID (by Dormakaba)

The MT RFID is a full-body electronic lock that offers contactless and mobile access technology to enhance guest convenience and improve operational efficiency. Ideal for retrofits, this lock works with the Windows-based System 6000™, Messenger LENS™ online wireless system for superior control and monitoring. 
 
Mobile Access: 
This Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capable lock can operate using the dormakaba Mobile Access Solutions, allowing guests to use their mobile devices as their room key. 

  • Mobile Access capable lock
  • Simple to use
  • New construction and retrofit applications
  • Works with Saflok System 6000 access management software
  • Online wireless integration, with Messenger LENS

 

9. 790/RT (by Dormakaba)

The?790/RT RFID is a rugged full-body electronic lock that offers contactless technology to enhance guest convenience and improve operational efficiency. This durable lock is easy to use and works with the stand alone Front Desk Unit (FDU). Hoteliers looking for additional controlling and monitoring will select the RT model that works with Ambiance Access Management Software and legacy Saflok System 6000™.

Mobile Access: RT ?is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capable lock that can operate using the dormakaba Mobile Access Solution, allowing guests to use their mobile devices as their room key.?  Learn more

 

10. Saflok Quantum RFID (by Dormakaba)

The Saflok Quantum RFID offers a unique and award winning two-piece modular design for a sleek look and superior lock performance. The lock is easy to use and works with the Windows-based System 6000™. Optionally, choose Saflok Messenger LENS wireless system for online access management solution and superior control and monitoring. 

Mobile Access Solutions 
This Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capable lock can operate using the dormakaba Mobile Access Solutions, allowing guests to use their mobile devices as their room key.  Learn more

  • Mobile Access capable lock
  • Simple to use
  • New construction and retrofit applications
  • Works with Saflok System 6000 access management software
  • Online wireless integration, with Messenger LENS

Decision Factors

There are also other brands worth checking out for your hotel like Onity, Salto and Schlage but it is not recommended to go with an unknown brand as security and reliability are critical to positive guest experiences.

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to hotel door lock hardware and software. Before making a purchase decision, you’ll want to weigh your options and determine what your priorities are. Do you want a lock that’s easy to install, or is a stylish look more important? Do you want guests to use a keycard, a PIN code, or a smartphone to gain access to their rooms? And how much do you want to spend? Magstripe locks, for example, are less expensive than RFID locks, but magstripe locks are more likely to cause guest experience issues and lockouts. BLE locks don’t require any type of keycard, but they do require every guest to install a smartphone app, which can cause confusion among less tech-savvy travelers.

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of hardware and technology that would work best for your property, you can engage in conversation with a lock vendor that offers your ideal lock system. Popular hotel door lock companies include

With the right lock and lock technology, you can turn the simple act of entering a guestroom into a positive guest experience.

Before you start down the path of a hardware provider you'll want to explore keyless entry system cost and features to ensure that whatever hardware you land on will be flexible enough to work with the software that meets your hotel's needs and to ensure that the software won't void your hardware warranties.  Ready to move beyond hotel door locks and explore keyless entry solutions providers? Check out the 10 Best Mobile Key Vendors for Hotels.

Image
THE PITCH
RATINGS BEST FOR
64 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Mobile Access offers guests a whole new hotel experience. Convenient and secure, there's no need for physical keys or keycards.
Product logo
Mobile Access by Vingcard Hotel Keyless Entry Systems
THE PITCH
RATINGS
64 HT Score
Mobile Access offers guests a whole new hotel experience. Convenient and secure, there's no need for physical keys or keycards.
Learn More
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THE PITCH
RATINGS BEST FOR
100 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
Learn More
SmartLock Pro automatically issues a SmartKey & DoorCode to every guest for the length of their stay. Having DoorCodes as backup (not reception) means that we fully automate access & can completely remove plastic from a hoteliers operation.
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Goki Hotel Keyless Entry Systems
THE PITCH
RATINGS
100 HT Score
SmartLock Pro automatically issues a SmartKey & DoorCode to every guest for the length of their stay. Having DoorCodes as backup (not reception) means that we fully automate access & can completely remove plastic from a hoteliers operation.
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THE PITCH
RATINGS BEST FOR
87 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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OpenKey is the leading provider of Digital Key solutions that allow your guests to unlock rooms with their mobile devices, saving them time — and saving you money.
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Openkey.co Hotel Keyless Entry Systems
THE PITCH
RATINGS
87 HT Score
OpenKey is the leading provider of Digital Key solutions that allow your guests to unlock rooms with their mobile devices, saving them time — and saving you money.
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Security, sustainability and guest experience

Hotel door lock systems are at the core of any guest experience due to their crucial role in ensuring guest security, convenience, and satisfaction. These systems, often incorporating RFID technology, electronic door locks, Bluetooth capabilities, and access control systems, play a vital role in various aspects of a guest's stay.

Firstly, the use of RFID cards or key cards in hotel door lock systems provides a secure and convenient method for guest access control. These contactless cards, often encoded with RFID technology, allow guests to unlock their hotel room doors effortlessly by simply tapping the card on the card reader or utilizing Bluetooth or NFC capabilities. This contactless approach enhances the overall guest experience, eliminating the hassle of fumbling with traditional keys or magnetic stripe cards.

The security features of hotel door lock systems are of paramount importance. With robust electronic locks, such as those utilizing mortise technology or ANSI-rated locksets, guest rooms are well-protected against unauthorized entry. These locks, often made of stainless steel, offer durability and reliability, ensuring guest safety throughout their stay. Additionally, advanced security measures like keypad entry, biometric recognition, or fingerprint door locks add an extra layer of protection.

Hotel door lock systems also contribute to seamless check-in processes. Keyless entry and the use of mobile keys enable guests to bypass the front desk and proceed directly to their rooms, enhancing convenience and saving time. The integration of management software and access control systems allows hotels to streamline check-in procedures, automate keycard encoding, and provide a smooth and efficient guest arrival experience.

Energy-saving initiatives are another benefit of modern hotel door lock systems. Some systems can automatically adjust room settings, such as temperature and lighting, based on occupancy, resulting in energy efficiency and cost savings. This focus on energy conservation not only benefits the environment but also reflects positively on the hotel's commitment to sustainability.

The reliability and performance of hotel door lock systems are crucial for guest satisfaction. Reputable manufacturers like ASSA ABLOY and Kaba often offer warranties on their lock systems, providing peace of mind to hotels and guests alike. Additionally, the use of mobile keys eliminates the concern of misplaced or demagnetized key cards, ensuring a hassle-free experience for guests.

Overall, hotel door lock systems, whether incorporating RFID technology, electronic locks, Bluetooth capabilities, or advanced access control systems, are integral to the guest experience. They provide secure access control, enhance convenience during check-in and throughout the stay, contribute to energy-saving efforts, and instill guest confidence in the hotel's commitment to safety and satisfaction.

Wrapping it all up

If your hotel doesn't upgrade its door lock systems to incorporate advanced technologies like RFID, magstripe, pin code, and Bluetooth locks, you are putting several aspects at risk, including the security of your guests and your property. Traditional lock systems that rely solely on mechanical keys or magnetic stripe cards are more susceptible to unauthorized access and are less secure compared to modern electronic door locks utilizing these technologies.

By not implementing a comprehensive lock system that includes RFID, magstripe, pin code, and Bluetooth capabilities, you compromise the effectiveness of your access control and guest room security. RFID cards provide enhanced security features such as encryption and authentication, making them more difficult to duplicate or hack compared to traditional magnetic stripe cards. Additionally, the use of PIN codes for entry and Bluetooth technology for unlocking doors adds an extra layer of security and convenience for your guests.

The absence of a smart door lock system that incorporates these technologies can negatively impact the guest experience. Keyless entry and the convenience of using a mobile key, PIN code, or RFID card provide a seamless and efficient check-in process, eliminating the need for guests to wait in line for physical keys. With a multi-technology lock system, your guests can choose their preferred method of access, enhancing convenience and improving guest satisfaction.

Upgrading to a lock system that includes RFID, magstripe, pin code, and Bluetooth technology also offers operational benefits. You can leverage a comprehensive management software and access control system that integrates these technologies, streamlining processes, monitoring room access, and generating detailed reports on guest activity. This improves your overall hotel management and allows for better control over guest security.

The implementation of these advanced lock technologies promotes energy-saving initiatives. Some systems can automatically adjust temperature settings and lighting based on room occupancy, resulting in energy efficiency and cost savings. Moreover, the durability and longevity of these lock systems, often made with stainless steel components and ANSI-rated locksets, provide long-term reliability and reduce maintenance expenses.

By not upgrading your door lock systems to incorporate RFID, magstripe, pin code, and Bluetooth technologies, you may miss out on the warranty coverage offered by reputable lock manufacturers. This can lead to increased expenses in case of lock malfunctions or security breaches.

In summary, if you fail to upgrade your door lock systems to incorporate RFID, magstripe, pin code, and Bluetooth technologies, you risk compromising guest security, negatively impacting the guest experience, reducing operational efficiency, missing out on energy-saving benefits, and incurring additional expenses for maintenance and security breaches. Upgrading to a comprehensive lock system that encompasses these advanced technologies is a prudent investment that enhances security, convenience, and overall hotel management.

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Jordan Hollander
CEO @ HotelTechReport Linkedin profile
Jordan is the co-founder of HotelTechReport, the hotel industry's app store where millions of professionals discover tech tools to transform their businesses. He was previously on the Global Partnerships team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his work with SPG, Jordan was Director of Business Development at MWT Hospitality and an equity analyst at Wells Capital Management. Jordan received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he was a Zell Global Entrepreneurship Scholar and a Pritzker Group Venture Fellow.