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A safe solution for hotel rooms.

VACATIONERS AND BUSINESS travelers deserve to feel that their valuables are safe in a hotel. Hoteliers who usually provide security by offering guests centrally located safe deposit boxes may want to consider in-room safes.

To use a safe deposit box, hotel guests must bring their valuables to the front desk, where they receive a box assignment. Each time the guest wants access to the valuables, he or she must return to the desk, wait for a clerk, produce identification, and wait while the valuables are retrieved.

This multistep procedure is inconvenient for the guest and requires a great deal of time and attention from hotel staff. The safe deposit box area must always be staffed for both security and guest requests. In a busy downtown hotel this service could become a desk clerk's full-time job.

Safe deposit boxes generate hotel income. Each guest pays a small daily fee for the use of a box. Many guests, however, view the trek to the front desk for their valuables as a nuisance and are more likely to take their chances and keep valuables in the room.

The alternative--installing a personal safe in every guest room--is practical and efficient and offers considerable revenue potential for the hotel. In fact, one of the Automobile Association of America's recommendations to hotels striving for a four-diamond rating is that they have in-room safes.

In-room safes allow guests to secure and remove valuables whenever they like, without staff assistance. The safes benefit the front desk staff as well by eliminating the desk traffic caused by safe deposit boxes. The registration staff simply issues a key or combination number to the guest during check-in.

Safes come in a number of shapes and sizes with a variety of installation options and locking mechanisms. Recently, safes have become available in a choice of colors to blend into any room decor.

Choosing a locking mechanism for in-room safes can make a significant difference in maintenance time, cost to the hotel, and generated revenue. The more maintenance-free the lock, the more convenient it will be for the hotel to have on the premises. The easier the lock is to use, the more likely guests will be to use it--resulting in income for the hotel.

The most popular locks include:

The plastic card lock. At check-in guests receive a plastic card with the lock combination encoded on it. The card inserts smoothly into the lock from the top--no dials, visible numbers, or keyholes are involved.

Plastic card locks have many advantages for the guest and the hotelier. For example, if a guest loses the card, the hotel's security staff simply uses an encoding tool to recode the lock in seconds, actually changing the combination, and produces a new card. Should the original card be found, it will no longer open the safe.

The key card carries no identifying marks, such as a room number. If the card is lost, its finder will have no visible clues to follow to the matching safe.

Plastic card locks require no electrical or battery power to operate, making them secure even in the event of a power failure, and their construction makes them virtually pick-proof. In fact, the US Mint and the FBI use these locks for some safes.

The digital lock. These electronic locks include a standard numerical keypad on the door of the safe. Guests are given a combination when they check into the hotel and can easily operate the lock without keeping track of a key.

Combination locks require guests to remember the series of numbers that will open the room safes. While this may be difficult for some guests, many appreciate the absence of a loose key that they might misplace.

In addition, many digital locks are just as versatile as the plastic card locks. They can easily be recorded by trained security personnel. Should a guest forget or lose the combination, security could simply change the combination in minutes.

The biaxial key lock. For those who prefer the familiarity of a standard key lock, some safes come equipped with a biaxial lock that can easily be replaced by hotel security. If a guest loses the key and needs to open the safe, security personnel can remove the entire core of the lock from the safe unit by using a change key.

A change key rotates the lock in the opposite direction and unfastens the core chamber. The safe remains securely closed in the process. The core chamber of the lock can then be replaced with a new lock and key, thus preventing any use of the lost key by a potential burglar.

These locks represent the most recent technologies in locking mechanisms, replacing the standard dial combination and single key locks found on older in-room safes. But the locking mechanism is not the only consideration when picking out room safes. Hoteliers must also consider placement and size before installing safes. Do guests prefer an in-room safe standing discreetly on the closet floor or inserted directly into the hotel room wall?

Floor safes come in a variety of sizes to accommodate everything from a large briefcase to just a few personal belongings. Smaller floor safes can fit easily into a closet, while larger ones can stand unobtrusively in a corner of the room.

To save floor space and offer concealed protection for valuables, many hotels use wall safes. Not only do these safes eliminate the bulk of a standing safe, but they disappear from view behind a picture or the clothing hanging in the closet. In addition to these options, some wall safes telescope in depth for additional storage.

Wall safes are a particularly good option for hotels if chosen during the design stage. The safes can be installed during the construction process, without the inconvenience of cutting holes in existing walls.

The purchase of a safe for every guest room may be too expensive for many organizations. For this reason several safe manufacturers have worked out leasing and revenue-sharing programs that offer hoteliers the opportunity to pay as they go so that the deal is more cost-efficient.

In a leasing situation, hoteliers pay a monthly cost per unit for a specified time period (usually 36, 48, or 60 months), with the option to purchase the safes at rock-bottom prices at the end of that period.

Even more profitable for hoteliers is the revenue-sharing arrangement. For example, a hotel may charge a guest $2 each day for the use of an in-room safe. The hotel and the safe manufacturer would then split that income 50/50 between them.

Comfort, security, and peace of mind are imperative if guests are to choose a hotel and return to it on a regular basis. That is why hotels must take every precaution and offer every feature available to make guests feel relaxed. In-room safes can help hotels generate income and instill a sense of well-being and comfort in their guests.

Joanne Straub is the account executive, lodging market for the Sentry Group in Rochester, NY.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:hotel security
Author:Straub, Joanne
Publication:Security Management
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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