Upgrading Hotel Door Locks: How to Go Smart by Retrofitting Keycard Locks

As of August 2022, hospitality employment was down by nearly 400,000 jobs as compared to February 20201.

And with 91% of hotels stating they were unable to fill at least one vacant position in October 20222, staffing shortages aren’t just a cause for concern for hoteliers: They’re having a serious and direct impact on operations and the guest experience.

That’s why there’s a growing trend throughout the hotel industry to implement contactless check-in and digital access to help optimize staffing while providing a frictionless experience for guests. To make this possible, you need to equip your hotel with smart door locks. 


But there’s an opportunity cost at work here—if you invest in smart tech and digital access, will you still be able to replace carpets, update curtains, or upgrade your light fixtures? 


Fortunately, you don’t have to actually replace your locks. Cutting-edge technology lets you upgrade them at a much more manageable cost, meaning you can offer your guests contactless access for a fraction of the time and money that switching out your locks would require.  


71% of respondents to a survey about their hotel feature preferences said they would be “likely or very likely” to use a digital door key to access their hotel room3. So, updating your locks will have an important impact on the guest experience, as well as the day-to-day operations at your hotel.

See how upgrading hotel door locks is an affordable way to reduce the pressure on your staff and delight your guests.

Enable digital access and contactless check-in by upgrading your existing locks.

Discover Operto Boost

The cost of replacing locks can be daunting.
Not to mention potentially unnecessary.

The biggest barrier to implementing digital access is the price of replacing your locks. Here are the typical costs: 



  • The price of new hotel smart locks
    $300-$800 per door

(Plus the cost of replacing doors if fitting with new locks means they no longer meet fire code)


  • The cost of installing new smart locks
    $30-$150 per door 

(Plus any downtime or interruptions to your operations during installation)


The cost of new smart locks 

Depending on the type of lock you choose and the model of your existing door, replacing your smart locks can easily cost you hundreds of dollars per door. Popular locks from ASSA ABLOY, Onity, Salto, and Dormakaba can cost anywhere between $300 and $800 depending on the model. 


And if your doors aren’t compatible with the smart lock you want to fit it with, or if replacing the locks means your doors no longer meet fire codes, you may be looking at replacing your doors as well. Needless to say, this will increase your costs significantly. 


The cost of installing your locks

The cost of installing your locks will depend on the type of door you have and which lock you choose. This can range between $30 and $150 per door. 


Also, take into consideration any alterations to your operations during the time of installation. While a skilled locksmith should be able to change your locks relatively quickly, your guests will need to be supplied with their new codes or keycards, and your front desk staff will need to be on standby at this time to address any potential problems.

A Salto hotel room smart look
The cost of replacing existing locks with smart locks is prohibitive for many hotels.

Save $1000s by upgrading existing locks for keyless entry

Instead of investing in brand-new smart locks, you can upgrade your existing locks with Operto’s cutting-edge technology, saving you thousands of dollars. Operto Boost lets you replace your existing locks by turning them into smart locks with BLE functionality while still maintaining their RFID or magstripe capabilities. 


How it works

With Operto Boost, you don’t have to replace your existing locks with smart locks. Instead, the system works by installing a Boost Smart Chip in your existing lock, which equips it with Bluetooth and digital key functionalities. 


This type of electronic lock provides your guests with contactless access and digital check-in, while you get access control and monitoring capabilities. Plus, guests who still would prefer a physical keycard can still use one to access their room. 


Installation process

The Operto Boost upgrading process is much faster than mounting a new lock—it takes just a few minutes. And because there’s no new hardware, there are no supply chain issues (some hotels are seeing up to six-month waits for their orders to come in). 


The Boost Chip is easy to install and works with the vast majority of locks on the market, meaning you won’t have to make any modifications to your existing doors or lock system. 


After it’s installed, you can instantly start using Operto Boost to offer contactless access to guests via their mobile devices. 


Savings compared to buying smart locks

On top of the convenience and functionality, one of the biggest advantages of updating your locks with Operto Boost is the cost. Instead of spending up to $1,000 per door to replace your locks, Operto Boost lets you upgrade to contactless access at a fraction of the price.

When one of our customers recently compared the cost of replacing all their locks with the cost of upgrading with Operto Boost, the savings amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Operto Boost chip and smartphone displaying mobile key
Operto Boost is a cost-effective way to upgrade your existing locks to smart locks and automate guest arrival and access.

Benefits of upgrading to keyless entry

If you’re still on the fence about whether your hotel needs keyless entry at all, take a look at the benefits of smart locks, both for your operations and your guests. 


Happier guests, more rebookings 

With 76% of respondents saying of their preferences that they would be “likely or very likely” to use mobile check-in at hotels in a 2020 Criton survey, digital access is not only welcomed by guests—they actively look for it during the research and booking phase of their vacation. 


Letting your guests check in on their mobile devices and access their rooms with a digital key means they don’t have to wait in line at the front desk upon arrival or constantly worry whether they forgot their keycard in their room. 


Keyless guest access, coupled with a convenient web app like Operto Guest, ensures a frictionless arrival that speaks to the hopes and expectations of modern guests. 


Lower staff costs 

With 87% of hotels reporting staffing shortages in the last quarter of 2022, anything you can do to lower staffing needs and costs can help improve your bottom line. 


We spoke with Curtis Crimmins, founder of Roomza and an industry leader in contactless solutions, as part of a fascinating case study. In his words, “I don’t think we’re ever going to see pre-pandemic employment levels in the hospitality industries again.”


When you upgrade your locks and use digital check-in, you take significant pressure off your staff because you no longer need to populate the front desk to assist guests upon arrival.


And with your team freed up from front desk duties, you can move them into roles that have a bigger impact on the guest experience, helping create an even more memorable stay. 

Operto Guest portal showing early check-in request
Guests can easily request early check-in or late check-out on the Operto Guest web app.

No more expensive keycards 

Even if you use relatively inexpensive keycards, the savings you gain from using mobile keys can be significant. 


Let’s say your keycards cost just $0.10 each. In a 300-room hotel with full occupancy (assuming each guest stays two nights), just half of your guests failing to return their keycards can mean losing over $200 per month. That’s a loss of about $2,700 per year.


A lock upgrade that allows for contactless access solutions means you no longer have to give out keycards to all your guests, so taking that loss out of the equation.


On top of the cost of the actual keycards, more streamlined digital check-in and keyless entry means you can benefit from savings related to staffing, workload, and operations, too. 


Compete with the major hotel brands

Marriot does it. Hilton does it. Hyatt does it. And with Operto Boost’s mobile access technology, you can keep up with even the biggest hotel chains by offering digital check-in and keyless access, too. 


While the larger hotel chains have invested millions of dollars into building and implementing keyless access and related tech, Operto Boost gives you the opportunity to level up and offer your guests a similar experience for mere dollars per month. 


It’s rarely possible to revamp your processes and the guest experience in a way that directly competes with major hotel brands, but upgrading your locks with Operto Boost gives you the opportunity to do exactly that. 


Upgrade your hotel door locks for a better guest journey and smoother operations

Smart locks and contactless access aren’t just good for your hotel operations and bottom line. Letting your guests check in on their mobile devices makes the hotel guest journey smoother, more modern, and more enjoyable. 


And the amazing news is that you don’t have to go over budget to offer contactless access and reduce pressure on your staff. 


That’s why upgrading your existing locks is by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to embrace automation and adapt to the new reality of staffing shortages in the industry, all while upholding a superior guest experience.

  1. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  2. Source: American Hotel & Lodging Association
  3. Source: Criton Hospitality Survey 2020


FAQs about updating hotel door locks

How much should it cost to change a hotel door lock system?

The price of changing hotel door locks can vary significantly depending on the existing type of door/lock and the model that will be installed. This price can range anywhere from around $300 to over $1,000 per room (including both the price of installation and the locks themselves). 


Does a hotel need to upgrade door locks?

Hotels need to upgrade their door locks to stay up-to-date with industry trends and guest standards. More and more guests expect the option of contactless access during their hotel stays, so this investment is essential for hotels that want to remain relevant and competitive. 


What is the best lock for hotel room doors?

Historically, the best locks for hotel room doors were magstripe or RFID locks. However, the changes in the hospitality industry have brought about a new lock model that is becoming an industry standard—smart locks with BLE capabilities that allow for contactless access via mobile keys.