If you have ever stayed at a hotel, you must have come across hotel key cards. They play a major role in improving customer security and ultimately contribute to the overall customer experience and satisfaction.
Without a key card, you cannot enter the hotel room, which means your belongings are safe in the room till you have the card in your hands. This high sense of security attracts visitors and compels them to book a room at a certain hotel where they sense security.
Hotel key cards work by using various technologies such as RFID and magnetic stripe. The information encodes inside the key card can only be read by RFID readers or magnetic readers. How does that happen? This article will take you through the process of how hotel key cards work.
Types of Hotel Key Cards
There are many different kinds of hotel key cards used and have been used in the past. Here is a list of some of the most common types of hotel key cards:
- RFID Cards
- Magnetic Stripe Cards
- Hole Cards
RFID cards need to be placed in near proximity of the reader so that I can be scanned. On the other hand, magnetic cards need to be swiped on the card reader present at the room entrance. Hole cards have a specific hole pattern cut on them, which the reader deciphers when the card is punched inside.
All of the cards mentioned above can be used to access hotel rooms, elevators and special areas such as poolside, gym, penthouse and cafeterias. They use different technologies but serve the same purpose. Each technology has its own pros and cons, and it offers a different level of security compared to others.
How Does Hotel Key Cards Work?
First and foremost, in the case of an RFID card, a magnetic card or a barcode card, the hotel staff first enters your information stored inside the card. A smart card contains more information about you as compared to the other cards. In a magnetic stripe card, the information is stored inside the black strip present on the card. A unique number is generated, called the user access number, which is stored in the card. A room number is allotted against this number; hence when you swipe your magnetic stripe card outside your room door, it senses the information and matches it with the database to unlock your door.
However, in the case of an RFID card, you don’t need to swipe the card. RFID is a contactless solution, which means that you need to bring the card in close proximity to the reader to decipher the information stored inside it. An RFID card is equipped with a chip instead of the magnetic stripe, which stores the user access number.
RFID card also stores more information and can provide a customized access to the guests. For instance, if you have booked the penthouse and don’t want other people to access the lift after a certain time, you can only access the lift, leading to the penthouse using an RFID card. According to the requirement, the card is clocked, which is a feature not included in other types of cards.
What Information Is Stored Inside a Key Card?
Do key cards store all personal information including your credit card number? Isn’t that unsafe? Well, hotel key cards only store your room number and the duration of your stay. They do not know your name or your financial details. There is a possibility that key cards can get hacked, so smart cards are the most preferred option in case security is a bi concern. It is complicated for hackers to tap into a smart card because of the modern encryption techniques.
The most recent development in the field of hotel key cards is the use of NFC enabled mobile phones. Visitors can unlock their room doors through their smartphones by enabling the NFC feature and bringing their phones in close proximity of the reader. They get their room passcode directly on their smartphones and they can easily unlock their door without the hassle of carrying an additional object with them. The fear of the key card getting lost is also eradicated in this case.