Optimizing and Deploying Your Hotel Access Control System

Modern guest expectations of digital self-service, along with the ongoing challenge of sourcing skilled staff, have intensified the need for online check-in and automated processes.

With the right hotel access control system, you can integrate the software you need to streamline operations and enhance the guest experience. But in identifying that solution, you need to be wary of common issues like meeting regulations and hidden costs.   


In this article, we discuss those risks, review the benefits you’ll gain with the best solutions, and look at which hotel access control system you should implement to save hundreds of dollars per door.

Gain a cutting-edge hotel access control system without replacing your hardware

Learn more about Operto Boost.

Why you need a hotel access control system

The right hotel access control system supports your team by streamlining processes, minimizing costs, and providing a modern experience for your guests.


For example, an effective solution to access control will let you: 


  • See when rooms are ready for cleaning without staff having to knock on doors
  • Allow you to save energy based on check-in times and real-time occupancy
  • Provide guests with more independence throughout their stay

You can also use your access control system to automate check-in and reduce the workload at your front desk, which we take a closer look at later.  


What to look for in a hotel access control system

Here’s a rundown of the main aspects you should focus on as you decide on the best access control system for your hotel:


Ease of implementation

Access systems that aren’t easy to implement take up more time and investment. As we explore later in this article, you need to consider what additional costs a new solution might demand, including the need to replace other parts of your doors. 


Ease of use

Access control solutions should make your management processes easier, not more complicated. Costs will rack up if you have to spend time training your staff or pay external contractors for regular maintenance.


Guest experience-focused

The software you share with guests so they can independently access their rooms and common areas needs to be user-friendly. This aspect of access control forms a huge part of its success—if your locks don’t facilitate a positive experience for your guests, they’re not a good solution.


Seamless integration 

With a fully integrated access solution, you can optimize operations and the guest experience. For example, you can share information about a guest’s stay alongside their access details within a branded guide.


Types of access control in hotels

Here’s a breakdown of the most common hotel access control systems, their benefits, and their limitations. 


Magnetic stripe card 

A magnetic stripe card or swipe card includes a strip that has data such as the guest room number and duration of guest stay written onto it at check-in. When it is swiped or inserted at the door, the reader in the lock will cross-check the data with the information it has synced from the centralized guest system.




Easy for guests to understand.

Mobile phones can demagnetize the key.

Initially inexpensive to produce, though they’re a recurring expense.

Cards often get lost and staff lose time replacing them.

It’s quick to change the card data.

They’re sometimes frustrating to use.

RFID card 

RFID keycards contain a chip that transmits information through electromagnetic waves. When they’re held against a lock and there’s a match with synced data, the control panel unlocks the door—no swiping needed. RFID cards now often come with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) built in for verification via a Bluetooth connection.




Guests prefer touch card solutions to swipe cards. 

They’re more expensive than magnetic stripe cards to set up.

They’re compatible with a variety of locking systems.

They’re easily lost or left inside the guest’s room.

RFID keycards are more durable than magnetic stripe ones.

They’re a recurring expense and the cumulative cost of replacement is high.


Hotel door keypads open based on entering what’s normally a four-digit code. These are sometimes programmed manually, while others can be programmed remotely or automatically.




Guests can check in without visiting the front desk.

Hotel guests tend to prefer sleek, no-touch options. 

You can create an automated process for sharing unique codes.

Touchscreen pads can be difficult to wake from standby mode.

Guests are highly accustomed to using pincodes throughout a variety of customer journeys.

Some guests prefer a traditional check-in via the front desk.

Mobile key

Mobile key check-in gives guests independent access to their rooms through an app, email, or text link. With Operto Guest, guests verify their ID and complete payment of the security deposit in a branded web app, which activates their access details.




Better security—guests have to unlock their phone before they can unlock the door.

Replacing your electronic locks is expensive (see our cutting-edge solution, Operto Boost, below).

Guests love the digital experience.

As a result of changing your locks, doors may not meet fire code regulations.

Your front desk no longer has to manage check-in or access—reducing workload and cutting costs.

Some guests prefer a traditional check-in via the front desk (Boost addresses this by still allowing traditional access).

Online vs offline systems

Almost all current keycard systems are offline, meaning the lock is not connected to the internet. Thus, the access credentials are carried on the card or phone.


An online system, on the other hand, you can control (or cancel, extend, and edit) access credentials even after they have been issued. For example, if a non-paying guest shows up with a previously valid card, you can simply tell the lock not to accept it. Online systems also let you view activity logs and get notifications in real-time.


Pro tip:

Operto Boost works with both online AND offline systems.


And it upgrades your existing locks, which saves you from having to replace them. 


Installation is fast, cost-effective, and you can immediately start implementing digital processes for your guests, management team, and on-the-ground staff.


You can see more on Boost and our other top recommendations, below.


Top access control systems

Here are three of the best hotel solutions for access control. 



ASSA ABLOY is a leading global supplier of traditional locks, smart locks, keycards, and automated doors. Their solutions come with the highest level of security and support with installation and maintenance. They also integrate easily with a range of apps, so you can manage access and view occupancy and room status remotely. 



Salto is another top provider of smart locks and access solutions. Their cloud-connected remote unlock service gives guests the ability to check in through an app and you the ability to manage access from wherever you are.  


Operto Boost

With Operto Boost, you can dramatically cut down on the cost of switching to a remote access control solution. 


Operto Boost upgrades your old locks to give them BLE functionality, giving you access to a range of guest experience and management automation tools. This includes Operto Guest, which offers a branded digital guidebook, digital check-in, ID verification, security deposit processing, and smart buttons for add-on services.


The easiest way to implement a new access control system

Operto Boost modernizes your locks without replacing them, which means you can address the following issues with implementing a new access control system:


Replacing hardware can create problems

If you change your locks, you may also need to change your doors, and this is complicated and costly. If you change your locks, your doors won’t necessarily still pass fire inspections. Fire codes may also have changed in the time since you first installed your door and you’ll need to assess every part of them—including their hinges— to ensure they meet the latest standards.


You could also experience supply chain delays of several months when ordering new hardware. However, with Operto Boost, you can update your locks without waiting on parts. In just minutes, you can retrofit a door with a BLE lock. The process works like this:


  • We assess your current lock type
  • You insert the smart chip
  • You can instantly start offering contactless access to guests   
A screenshot of Operto’s mobile check-in app
Contactless check-in gives your guests an easy and convenient experience.

Hidden costs can add up

Some providers will charge for installation while others will charge for ongoing maintenance. You may also need to pay ongoing rates for access or costs for utilizing BLE modules. 


With Operto Boost, there are no hardware costs other than the initial low cost of upgrading your locks.  And you can handle access management with our software, adding as many people as you need without additional charges. 


You need a complete guest experience and management software solution

Many access solutions don’t integrate with guest experience and management software—or, if they do, those platforms are limited with no branding, and poor UX. And this is a missed opportunity. 


Unbranded apps may allow for room access, but likely don’t allow for  check-in automation or give guests the opportunity to connect with your brand. Compare a situation in which a guest gets access to information about their stay (WiFi codes, recommendations, and more within a beautifully curated branded digital guide) with one in which they simply receive a code to unlock their door.  


Software that doesn’t connect to reservation information or a team management platform also creates extra work for the front desk. 


With Operto Boost, you can access a range of integrated guest experience and team management tools in one convenient dashboard. You can view bookings, occupancy, team workflows, and access information in one platform, alongside managing integrations with other tools like smart thermometers and occupancy monitoring devices.   


Deploying a complete access control system 

A keyless access control system helps you to oversee operations while providing the experience that modern guests expect. And by integrating it with other solutions, such as guest communications and team management software, you can reduce work for the front desk, streamline check-in, and improve security. 


The easiest, quickest, and most cost-effective way to get the most out of a new system is to deploy a complete, integrated solution like Operto Boost. 


This lets you upgrade your locks without having to deal with the costs of replacing your existing hardware, including your doors.

Gain a cutting-edge hotel access control system without replacing your hardware.

 Learn more about Operto Boost.