Wednesday, 5 April 2017



Key control in hotel is essential to the security of a lodging property. Guestroom Security locks can be a critical aspect of guest protection. Control of guest room keys is one of the cornerstones of what hotels must do in order to provide safety to their guests. The guestroom doors and windows must be fortified to prevent forced entry. Innkeepers, have an obligation to take reasonable care of their guests so that they will be safe in their rooms from intrusions by people who may have room keys.  Installation of burglar proof door locking system and effective Key and key control procedure is to be followed by the hotel to ensure guestroom safety against theft. All keys whether metal or electronic should be adequately controlled. There are many types of Locks currently available but even if the hotel buys the most secured or expensive one and they do not follow proper key controlling procedures then this will easily get into the hands of criminals.

Following are some types of Locks used in hotels:
  1. Locks with the key channel in the knob.
  2. Standard mortise locks, which generally include a face plate with the knob, a separate key channel on the corridor side of the door, and a dead bolt unit on the guestroom side of the door.
  3. Mortise locks with programmable cylinders for easy changed key combinations.
  4. Mortise locks with removable cores.
  5. Electronic locks with random selection of new key combinations for each guest.
  6. Electronic Number combination Locks.
  7. Biometrics Locks. (Finger Print, Retina Scanner etc.)

A number of systems have been introduced to add to the re-key and core change capabilities of guestroom lock sets. As a security reason hotels are now having locks which are integrated to the dead bolt, so that turning the knob will automatically release the dead bolt as well as the basic latch.
Electronic Key card locks provides an effective method for "locking out" cards previously issued and allowing admission to only the current guest. Electronic card systems may also employ a touch-pad system in which a special code is established for each guest during his or her stay.
This usually requires a guest to enter a sequence of numbers known only to the guest in order to enter the guestroom. And when the guest check’s out control sequence of the prior guest is cancelled automatically and the lock set receives the communication to accept the new combination.

A variety of electronic systems is available; most include one or more of the following elements:
·        A mortise lock integrated with an electronic card reader.
·        A card key which either communicates with the front desk computer and permits entry or which is compatible with the permission-level within the microchip in the lock set unit in the guestroom door. This establishes entrance capability either at the time the card key is being produced or upon introduction to the door lock.
·        A computer terminal at the front desk or adjacent area which produces the card key and selects the code which will permit entry by a new card key and will reject all prior units issued for that room.
·        A computer capable of providing millions of combinations for entrance to a guestroom.
·        A battery source and/or hard-wired system for energizing the lock system.
·        Touch-pad system.
·        The capability of "timing" the card so it no longer functions as of a set time, such as upon check-out.

1.    Discuss the different types of locks used in hotels.
2.    What do you understand by “Biometric Locks”?

4.2.2 Different types of Keys
 To open guest room doors hotels use two types of keys, which are:
1.    Old Conventional keys or Hard/Metallic keys
2.    Electronic card Keys
Old Conventional keys or Hard/Metallic keys: These are the keys which are in use since ages. These keys are found only in small hotels. In this system the key fits into a keyhole in a lock; preset tumblers inside the lock are turned by designated keys.

 The key is issued to the guest when room is assigned to him by the receptionist. Key is handed over to the guest by keeping the key in the key card or Key jacket. Key card/jacket is a kind of envelope to place key. It contains information like guest name, his room number, date of arrival, date of departure and about facilities of the hotel and the guest is requested to sign the card. Whenever a guest wishes to go out of the hotel, he deposits the room key at the information desk. And, when he comes back to collect his room key, he is requested to produce his key card so that the key is handed over to the authorized person after verifying his signature. At the time of departure the guest has to return the room key at the information counter and required to obtain a clearance. .

Hotel XYZ
Key Card

Guest Name: ____________________
Room No. _______________________
Date and time of Arrival: ________________________
Date of Departure: ____________________________
NOTE: Please produce the key card to receive your room key.
Authorized Signatory: _____________

Format of Key Card

Hotels are using old conventional keys system should consider following policies to provide safety and security to their guests
1.     Room keys must not have any form of tag which identifies the hotel or key blank which is particularly unique among the surrounding area's hotels. No key tag at all is preferred.
2.     Keys must not have the room number on them. Keys must be identified by a numeric or alpha code. Explain to the guest that the coding system is for their protection. That code cannot, in any way, directly correspond to the building or room numbers.
3.    When keys are given to guests at registration the guest's room number must not be said aloud if there are others in hearing range.
4.    Guests should be asked for their room keys at checkout by the Guest Service Agents (GSAs). Hotel employees, particularly Housekeeping and Bell staff, who see guests who are obviously in the process of leaving the hotel for the final time (taking their luggage out), should ask guests if they have returned their room key. This is also a good time to thank them for staying with you and make other pleasantries.
5.     Room attendants and others who find keys in guest rooms or elsewhere should place them in their pockets or in the locked key boxes provided, not on their carts where they are accessible to others, and handover  them to their supervisor to be returned to the Front Desk.
6.     All section masters, room masters, grand masters and emergency masters, (normally kept in a safety box) should be signed out each time they are taken and their return noted. All of the keys should be stamped "DO NOT DUPLICATE." Employees who carry these keys should be spot checked to insure they have them on their person. The inspection is logged in the front office log.
7.    A record must be kept of how many keys are made for each room and when they are made. This record must be reviewed on a weekly basis by the General Manager. The General Manager must initial and date the key making log each time s/he reviews it.

8.    If indicated something wrong as a result of this review, the General Manager must instruct the maintenance staff either to rekey the lock or to exchange room locks around within a housekeeping section in order to save the expense of rekeying the locks. Numbers on keys must be adjusted accordingly and overstamped until the old number is illegible and the new number stamped nearby if locks are swapped in a section. As a standard practice it is recommended that some locks in a section be moved quarterly.
9.     A log must be kept of all lock swaps and rekeyings.
10. If a section master is lost under circumstances which may result in hotel guests being at risk, the entire section should be rekeyed. While rekeying a section consider also rekeying to a new grand master and emergency master so that you are in effect beginning a phased rekeying of the entire hotel.
11.  If a master key or emergency key is lost under any circumstances it must be immediately reported to the Head of the Department followed by Security Manager or General Manager. After the circumstances are discussed, they can decide whether the entire hotel should be rekeyed.

12.  As an additional step, the General Manager or somebody s/he delegates the responsibility to must cross index all incidents of theft, missing property, damage, etc. as follows:
  • Room Number or Location. (Watch out for locks that have been moved.)
  • Names of potentially implicated employees (usually more than one). You may discover that room thefts never occur when so and so is off or regardless of the room number so and so was working in maintenance or housekeeping.
Remember, Hotel staff must do their best to protect guests by anticipating their potential problems and protect their business by taking "reasonable and prudent care" and documenting their actions over problems.

Electronic Key cards: "Key cards are considered one of the things that can help an establishment get a higher rating”. Electronic key cards are similar to ATM cards they have an attached magnetic strip that is coded by the check-in computer and read by the lock on the hotel room door. The card key is fed with the details of the guest such as guest name, room number, date of arrival and departure. Locks, in this system are equipped with the card reader and open only when the right card key code is matched. A whole new key, with a different code, is created for each room with every change of guest. The codes from the previous use are wiped out by the computer and replaced with a new pattern that is also sent electronically to the room lock.  In this type of locking system guest need to deposit his key at the information desk while going out or during checkout from the hotel.

                The traditional mechanical locking hardware also provides a high level of security but it’s not as cost effective or efficient as Electronic Key cards. If a guest fails to remember to deposit his room key at the time of check-out at information desk, lock has to be re-keyed, and new key must be distributed and it costs high amount. Where as in case of electronic key cards if the card is lost or misplaced by the guest a new card is issued to him on his request which is when inserted to the lock, the old card and code will automatically get expired and the lock will get open with the help of new card key. The card keys are anonymous and easily changed, making it nearly impossible for a would-be burglar to pick up a card and break into a room. The card costs less amount and can be reused many times.

Common systems consist of a computer, access control system software, and a database program to manage authorizations. The computer connects to data-gathering panels located in telephone rooms or at the door (this connection may be hardwired or routed via an Ethernet network). Each controlled access door is equipped with a card reader, an electric lock, a door position switch, and a request-to-exit device. These devices are wired to the data-gathering panel to operate locks.
Advantages of Electronic Access Control: Electronic access control systems offer many advantages over traditional key-based access control in terms of cost savings, increased security, and convenience, and they can be considered for any security upgrade plan. One of the biggest benefits to electronic access control is it mitigates the need for keys.
Below mentioned are some advantages of card keys:
·         Convenient guest room access via a card vs. fumbling with keys.
·         High levels of security by tracking and controlling who has accessed (and when).
·         In the event of a break-in or a security question, the hotel has the "ability to do a lock interrogation. They can run a report based on that particular lock and find out exactly which keys have been in that lock and when." Housekeeping and maintenance have master keys that will also show up on the report.
·         Provides a log of valid and attempted entries through controlled access doors.
·         Mitigates the need for re-keying (a user’s access privileges can simply be turned off).
·         Saves the cost of rekeying doors and the inconvenience of distributing new keys.

The only drawback to the technological version of room security is demagnetization. If an electronic key is carried too close to a magnet or other credit card, it can lose its code. "If that happens, in that case guest needs to contact reception for getting his room key activated.

Control of keys
It is important for the Front desk to exercise a strict control on guest room keys for the safety and security of guests’ belongings. To ensure strict control over keys Front desk should adhere following points.

·        Mail and Key Rack: To keep track on the room keys, mail and key rack must be used by the Front desk. The keys of occupied rooms should be with the guests while they are in the hotel. When guest goes out of the hotel, he should leave his room key at the information desk, who would keep it in the rack. The room keys of vacant or unoccupied rooms should be at the appropriate pigeon hole of the mail and key rack and if it is not there then the missing keys of the vacant rooms are tried to be located which could be with the housekeeping or bell desk. It is checked, and if not found needs to be entered in the report and details of missing keys list is made. There are times when a room key may be lost or a guest may forget to return the key while checking out of the hotel. In such cases room numbers are noted and tried to get in touch with the guest to get the room key back. If it does not work out in that case the door look must be changed immediately to prevent unauthorized access to the room.

·        Key control sheet: Key control sheets are maintained by information desk employees in the night. In this sheet details of all guest room keys are entered such as keys of occupied rooms, vacant rooms and details of missing keys. So that if there is any kind of discrepancy needs to be investigated and corrected immediately.


Hotel XYZ
Key Control Sheet
Date: __________
Time: __________

Keys of occupied rooms at front desk

S. No.

Room No.

Name of Guest

Baggage Position

Bill Amount


Vacant room whose keys are missing


Details of Missing Keys

Room No.

Name of the Guest who stayed last

Check-out Date and Time

Bell Boy at the Time of Departure

Front Desk Agent on Duty at the Time of Departure

Signature of front desk agent


Key Control Sheet Format

·         Collection of Room keys: At the time of guest departure, Front desk agent ensures that room key has been deposited by the guest.
·        Keys must be signed for personally by the employee to whom they are issued. 

 The quality of a guest’s hotel experience is frequently dependent on the consistency with which hotel standards of service are applied. Where the existing systems break down, guests will complain.  The proficiency of hotel in handling guest room keys lead to greater guest satisfaction. Therefore, it is important for the front desk to adopt proper key issue procedure to prevent unauthorized access to the guest rooms. To ensure security of the guest and the guest’s belongings and to prevent intrusion in the guest’s privacy, it is very important for hotel to have strict control over guest room keys. A lack of proper key control system may result in loss of revenue to the hotel as a room which is vacant may be shown occupied and may also cause confusion and chaos as an occupied room may be accessed by an unauthorized guest.  Hotels having an effective and efficient key control system makes guest feel comfortable and secured.


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