Hotel access control – glossary of key terms

When considering the implementation of an access control system in the hotel, the owner/management may meet many new concepts. To help in understanding them, we have prepared a short glossary describing the keywords and key concepts related to the topic of access control in hotels.

Electronic hotel lock – often also called a card hotel lock, is a mechanical lock with a card reader, motorized deadbolt and control electronics that supports the work of other elements of the lock. Electronic locks allow hotel guests convenient access to the rooms with the use of cards – the keys programmed by the front desk staff. The hotel locks are equipped with a memory function that records the card identifiers and opening times. The electronic locks can be powered by batteries or DC power supplies (via cables located inside the doors).

 Electronic locker/cabinet lock – the lock mounted in the doors of lockers in changing and locker rooms. Be-Tech locker locks are battery operated. The locks, similarly to hotel locks are operated using the electronic keys – cards, key fobs or armbands. The cabinet locks can operate in several modes (e.g. one card opens only one cabinet, each card can open and close any cabinet provided that the cabinet is currently free, etc.). The Be-Tech locker locks operate on one-key principle, making it possible to use one guest card to open both the room and lockers at the gym, spa or pool area.

Mifare card – proximity (contactless) smart card operating at a frequency of 13.56 MHz. Each card has a built-in antenna and a microprocessor. The data on the card and the transmission between the card and a reader are encrypted. Each card has an identification number assigned by the manufacturer, which is read by the reader when the card is brought close to it. Mifare cards are passive – they are powered by induction in the close proximity of the card reader. In addition, Mifare cards have sectors for data storage, e.g. the data concerning the user. The total memory of the card is 8 KB. Mifare cards operating in one-key Be-Tech system are additionally secured by two codes: the manufacturer’s code – prevents unauthorized use of the card, so it is impossible to copy the Be-Tech card using a clean Mifare card, and the hotel code – set individually for each implementation. The hotel code prevents the use of cards issued by other hotels that have implemented one-key Be-Tech systems. The multilevel security system makes Mifare cards one of the safest solutions currently available on the market.

Elevator/lift controller – device enabling control of the elevator with the use of hotel cards. The controller allows for assigning access rights only to floors intended for each individual guest (e.g. the floors with the guest room with the restaurant).

Software – set of instructions, algorithms and interfaces designed for an electronic device (hardware, e.g. a computer) to achieve specific objectives. With the use of the hardware, the software directs the computer’s processor to perform specific operations on the data specified by the developer in order to fulfill defined goals. Access control systems implemented in hotels are based on application software for hotels, which allows the integration of the hotel and locker locks with the booking and payment system. Upon arrival, guests receive cards to the rooms reserved for them, and they can clear their accounts at the checkout desk, including e.g. the bills from the restaurant, assigned to their cards. Choosing a hotel management software, it is worth to pay attention to its features and integration with other systems in the hotel (e.g. the access control system). More about BIS hotel software integrated with access control system and Be-Tech hotel locks can be read in the the Software section.

Kinds of hotel locks – Be-Tech system offers two kinds of electronic locks:

  • Mortise locks (Berlin, London, Oslo) – locks consisting of escutcheon plates and inserts mounted inside doors. The insert (main lock body) is recessed into the side of the door. The control elements are placed in the plates, the insert contains mechanical components of the lock
  • Surface mounted locks (Oslo Retro) –the whole mechanism is contained under the plate of the lock. These locks are supplied without inserts and can be mounted on the existing hotel doors with the original inserts, without the need for cutting holes in the doors

PZ distance and backset – the distance from the center of the handle hole to the center of the large cylinder hole and the distance from the surface of the lock faceplate to the center of the handle hole. Locks are manufactured according to accepted standards, so they can be easily matched to the doors popular in a particular region of the world. The two most common standards are EURO and ANSI. Be-Tech hotel locks are in line with European Union standards, allowing their installation on virtually every door produced in Europe and many countries in the world. The exact dimensions of the locks and mounting templates are available in the download section.

Left/right handed door (and door set, incl. lock)doors to hotel rooms can be hinged left or right. Depending on that, the door set, including the lock, must fit the door. If the handle of the lock is directed left, and the deadbolt and latch to the right, it is the ‘left’ lock, otherwise it is the ‘right’ lock. The Be-Tech hotel locks can be mounted both on left and right handed doors.

One key system – all Be-Tech products can work in one-key hotel systems, where each guest and worker uses a single card (electronic key) within the whole facility. Such systems offer hotel guests the freedom to move around the premises with their room key cards. Upon check-in, the receptionist gives the visitor the right to open the room and other passages (e.g. the entrance to the parking lot, gym, pool, etc.). The guest can select available locations/activities only during the period of their stay, then the card will automatically expire. The Be-Tech one-key system allows for assigning different privileges to each card, such as access to specified rooms, including the rights for the hotel staff. For example, the guests have access to selected rooms, the spa area and the parking lot, the cleaning staff has access to all the rooms in the hotel and to the warehouse, the technical staff has access to all rooms within the facility. It is also possible to assign the rights only for specified periods (e.g. the cleaning staff may open rooms between 9-12 a.m., hotel guests can use the pool between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.).

Hotel access control systemthe hardware (door locks, locker/cabinet locks, card readers, elevator/lift controllers etc.) and software for access control in a hotel. First of all, the special kind of access control system has to provide temporary access for many people, who are not employees, to their rooms and selected areas. Hotel access control systems allow for defining a number of user groups and assigning them similar or identical access privileges within each group. In many cases, access control systems in hotels are integrated with hotel management software and can limit the access to selected services according to the package purchased.

Master Key systema system that enables opening any of the locks in the facility with a single “master” mechanical key. Normally, each of the locks can be opened only with a unique key. The Master Key” is stored in the safe at the reception or in the hotel office, and can be used to open any room in the facility in the case of a failure or emergency.

Online / offline locksin the case of hotel access control systems there are two main solutions:

  • Online hotel locks – are permanently connected to a computer at the reception desk, in most cases via network cable (UTP). Individual locks are programmed directly from the computer, and the information on access rights is stored in the locks. The downside of this solution is the need of wired network connection to each of the locks, which means that the cable must be led to each door. So the the implementation of such a system is comparatively troublesome and expensive. The online system records the entry/presence/exit of each guest and the hotel staff in any room in real time
  • Offline hotel locks – each of the locks is battery operated and programmed with the use of a programming card or programmer. The information concerning access rights is stored on the guest and staff cards. The installation of the offline locks is much easier, but the reception desk does not have the current information on the the entry/presence/exit times of the guests in the rooms. The data is stored in the lock memory and can be read by a suitable device. Be-Tech hotel locks work offline

Transponder – is short for transmitter/responder, and the device is able to receive and transmit radio signals. In access control system, the transponder enables contactless opening of the door to the room, locker/cabinet, entrance to some area etc. The transponders in the Be-Tech one key system can have the form of smart cards, key rings/fobs or wrist bands.

Access rightsa set of rules allowing the user to have access to selected places, i.e. open the locks to specified rooms. The permissions may restrict access to some places only to certain periods of time (e.gfrom Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). In the Be-Tech one-key system, one can distinguish three main groups of users and assign them the appropriate rights:

  • Hotel guestguest card opens the door to the guest’s room and doors to selected areas. The card has a defined validity period. If a guest card is lost, it is possible to duplicate it with the same privileges and cancel the lost card. At check-out the guest returns the card that can be reissued to another person.
  • Maid – maid card opens all hotel rooms during defined periods of time and selected technical areas (e.g. storeroom). The card can open a guest room only when the guest did not shut the lock from the inside. The card does not give you permission to open other premises, so the room cleaning staff does not have access e.g. to the reception area, office etc.
  • Managermanager card opens all the rooms in the hotel, at any time of the day, regardless of whether a room is locked from the inside, so that the manager can access any room in the case of emergency

Hotel energy saving switch  – a part of the electrical system, used in hotel rooms. If the switch slot is empty, the circuit is open and the power to all electrical appliances in the room is cut off. After inserting the hotel card into the slot, it is possible to normally use the electricity in the room. Energy saving switches are now the standard equipment in every hotel. They prevent guests from leaving the lights, air conditioning and other electrical appliances in operating mode during their absence in the rooms. The use of the switches in hotel rooms reduces the costs of electricity up to 30%. On the market there are many types of such switches. It is worth pay attention to what cards can activate them – some simplest ones can be switched on by any card (which can be permanently left in by the guest, eliminating any savings). The Be-Tech energy saving switches can operate only with the original hotel cards (the circuitry effectively eliminates attempt to use another card to switch on electricity in the room).

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