Upgrading Hotel Door Locks & Creating a Digital Guest Experience

Just by upgrading your hotel locks, you can transform your guest experience and your team’s working day. 

This is because smart locks with mobile access provide guests with the independence they crave and reduce your front desk’s workload. 

But the upfront costs of commercial-grade locks can be prohibitively expensive, which is why you need an alternative way of accessing the contactless solution you need.  


In this article, we look at the pros and cons of changing your locks and how to keep costs down by upgrading locks instead of replacing them. We also explore the range of automated tools you’ll be able to access once you’ve implemented a digital access system.

Upgrade your locks to smart locks without changing the hardware.

Learn more about Operto Boost.

Hotel door lock upgrades explained

Magstripe locks are reaching the end of their life cycle because they create work for front desk staff in the form of updating and replacing cards, and guests now expect more modern forms of room access. 


But RFID locks can also hold the guest experience back because guests have to wait in line to collect their keycards on arrival. For this reason, most hotels are now looking to upgrade to smart locks with Bluetooth functionality, which facilitates a keyless mobile check-in. 


But, though this tech-enabled approach comes with a range of benefits (as we explore throughout this section), it can also be expensive. Aside from the basic costs of brand-new commercial-grade locks, installing them could also mean you have to replace additional parts—or your entire doors—so they meet fire code standards. 


We’ll discuss how the Operto Boost Smart Chip avoids these costs. First, though, we look at the wider benefits and challenges involved with upgrading your locks. 


The benefits of upgrading your locks for keyless access

When you upgrade to keyless locks, your team, guests, and operations benefit. Here’s how:


  • Reduced workload for the front desk. Your staff won’t have to complete check-in forms, set up and distribute keycards, or manage access.
  • Cut costs. A smart lock system removes the need for you to replace physical keycards or operate the front desk 24 hours a day. With a connected management platform, you can remotely manage your hotel
  • Access to guest experience tools. Smart door locks work best in tandem with a guest portal, and solutions like Operto Guest can be used to guide guests through a frictionless stay. We look at how, below.   
  • Increased operational efficiency. With smart locks and management software, you’ll get additional insights about occupancy. As we explore later, these can be used alongside automated tools to streamline your operations. 
  • Increased security. Mobile access is further protected by the device’s own security settings.

The challenges of upgrading your locks

Upgrading your locks can be complicated. You’ll need to:


  • Assess the size of your mortise to ensure you find a lock that’s a direct fit—without this you’ll need to drill new boreholes 
  • Ensure you use locks you can integrate across every access point (including elevators and communal areas like gyms)
  • Invest in management software that integrates with the new access system
  • Fit the locks in a way that avoids needing to replace other parts of your door
  • Factor installation and maintenance costs into your budget

All of this can get expensive—at a time when sourcing and paying staff is a bigger challenge than ever. With Operto, though, you can save on these costs. Next, we look at how. 


Costs you save by upgrading locks instead of replacing them

When you upgrade your locks with Operto Boost, you can cut the costs of installing new locks by keeping your existing hardware. 


From $4/month per door, you can upgrade your locks with the Bluetooth Boost Smart Chip that you can fit into your locks yourself in just 15 minutes. This means you’ll avoid the installation and recurring maintenance costs lock manufacturers often charge. 


When you retrofit your locks with the Operto Boost Smart Chip, you also won’t have to reassess whether your door meets fire code standards. So you won’t have to replace door parts and you’ll avoid the supply chain delays that continue to impact the hotel industry. 


Use your lock upgrade to create a digital guest experience

With smart locks and an integrated solution like Operto Guest, you increase not only guest independence but engagement. A self-service check-in allows customers to autonomously navigate your hotel when they arrive, and they’ll also receive pre-stay information showing them what they can look forward to. Here’s how the process works with Operto.



When guests make a booking, they automatically receive a link to your branded web app, powered by Operto. Inside, they’ll see the digital guidebook you’ve customized with information about their stay, your amenities, and local services. 


For example, you could include Wi-Fi codes and parking details alongside restaurant recommendations and guided tours. You can also include smart buttons—customizable call-to-actions so guests can easily make instant requests and purchase your add-on services.

Screenshot of Operto Guest’s smart buttons.
Operto Guest smart buttons make it easy for guests to purchase add-on services


Upon check-in, guests are asked to verify their details and pay a security deposit. Then, they’ll receive a unique mobile key they can use for contactless entry, which automatically expires after check-out. 


So, no admin for your front desk and a frictionless stay for your guests. 


Use your lock upgrade to gain access to hotel automation

You can also connect your new locks to automated software solutions to save time and money. Here are some key things to look out for.   


Manage staff shortages by cutting front desk workload 

Labor shortages mean your experienced staff are losing time training new recruits on how to check people in and manually manage guest access. You can cut their workload, and even reduce the need for staff on the front desk, by upgrading your locks and allowing guests to check in on their mobile devices.


The result is fewer lines at check-in, and happier staff with more time to deliver a better guest experience. We spoke to the COO of Prague Residencies to discover how they reduced their front desks from four to one with smart locks and Operto’s automated solutions.


Give your management team solutions for collaboration

Paired with the right management solutions, smart locks allow you to improve efficiency and communication among your teams. Inside Operto Teams, you’ll see real-time occupancy insights you can use to inform your team’s schedules. For example, you can set up automatic notifications for cleaners so they know as soon as a room is vacated and available for its turnover. 


Your team can use our centralized calendar to review all reservations and tasks in one place. And the front office can then easily create additional tasks if a special request or issue comes up. 


There’s also a two-way messaging function for people to use if they don’t have time to complete certain tasks or if they notice an issue, like a faulty coffee machine or wobbly table, when a guest checks out.

Operto Teams scheduling calendar
Your team can view their day at a glance inside Operto Teams

Integrate with other solutions

By bringing your solutions together inside a centralized platform like Operto, you can save money. This is because you’ll understand exactly which functionality you have across different software, you’ll spot ways to reduce the number of solutions you use, and your staff will save time day-to-day. 


For example, Operto integrates with smart thermostats you can use to automate energy savings based on occupancy.  


Becoming tech-enabled through upgraded locks 

Replacing your locks to facilitate mobile check-in allows you to meet modern guest expectations and better manage the labor shortage. But the high installation and maintenance costs associated with smart locks often means it just isn’t a practical option as a boutique hotel. 


Upgrading your existing locks but keeping your existing hardware, on the other hand, presents a cost-effective way to access these benefits. With Operto Boost, you can retrofit your locks with a state-of-the-art BLE chip to immediately enable a mobile check-in process that saves money and gives guests the digital experience they want. 


From here, you’ll unlock access to guest experience and automation tools that can dramatically improve operational and financial efficiency, guest satisfaction, and your team’s day-to-day working experience.

Upgrade your locks to smart locks without changing the hardware.

Learn more about Operto Boost.