Controlling access to public areas in an accommodation complex can not only be extremely costly but, if not properly planned and integrated, the results can be problematic for not only your guests but also for you and your staff.
This is especially the case after hours when late check-ins get up-tight for many reasons when they are unable to park their car in a car park being full of vehicles that have no right to be there or the boom gate won’t open and no one answers the intercom, or they cannot access their key, or they get stuck in the lift trying to get to their room after being on 10-hour flight that has taken 20 hours because of delays.
Late check-ins are inevitable but they are still VIP guests. They don’t want to feel unwanted when they arrive late and reception is closed, so what is the answer?
One of the most effective ways to control after hours access is by the use of intercoms. Simple voice models are often all that is needed but, for heightened security and scrutiny of visitors or persons desiring access, then video intercom is certainly the way to go.
But this can mean that managers are still on call 24/7 and, in many properties where back-up staff numbers are small (or non-existent), this is not always desirable.
To cater for pre-booked late arrivals many resort managers now leave room keys in a key safe, ready for the guest to retrieve by entering a security code. Various types of key safes are available for this purpose. Typically this still results in the late arrival guest calling the manager on arrival for instructions.
With video intercom, once the visitors’ legitimacy has been established, he or she needs to be given access. This is achieved by either causing some form of lock release so they can gain access to the general facility or to a designated area.
Access control to the site in total and to various locations around the site is able to be incorporated into the intercom. Electronic keys or fobs can be issued with various levels of access incorporated. This access can be defined by areas as well as by times. This feature is particularly relevant when restricting access to pools and gymnasiums and such.
Connected to a computer, a manager is able to track or trace the use of any fob within the facility. An added benefit is the ability to validate and void fobs on site. If a guest fails to return his fob it is a simple matter to remove any access that has been attributed to that particular key. This can also be used as a management tool, enabling management to check on what staff member has gone where, when a room was entered and by whom.
Some modern PABX systems, such as the Hybrex GBS, have access control features specifically engineered for accommodation properties. Integrated access control allows for unit owners and apartments guests to activate ‘door release’ and ‘lift control’ to specific floors of multi-level buildings from their unit/room intercom/phone.
However, without engaging heaps of costly technology there is another option to avoid late night interruptions while still maintaining a high level of security and service. Many managers are now using the services of a specialised after hours reception service. Nitel Hospitality Solutions & Services, for example, operates a purpose built call centre providing after hours reception services specifically for the hospitality industry. Over the last decade Nitel has developed multiple proprietary systems that integrate with an accommodation property’s systems allowing trained operators to control the secure access for late arriving guests.
Specialist providers can supply automated systems that link your property to their call centre. A remote after hours reception service can be provided to properties regardless of location with low monthly rental plans for accommodation providers with as little as four rooms to an unlimited capacity proving no property is too small or large to implement a secure late-night access service.
These intelligent systems can control multiple door and specific floor access to any property, anywhere, any time.
By utilising these after hours remote access services, managers can now provide a 24/7 check-in facility for their guests without compromising their private time and the safety of their staff, no longer needing to meet guests at late hours simply to provide access and instructions.
Specialist providers, such as Nitel, can also provide secure access and payment processing for guests seeking after hours walk-in accommodation and, in so doing, can increase the occupancy of a property without the need for night staff. Their remote operators are able to handle the entire process for walk-in guests, the safety concerns for associated with greeting unknown arrivals late at night can now be a thing of the past.
Nothing can fully replace a 24-hour manned reception for customer service but with labour costs and staff safety concerns dominating management decisions today, the remote after hours reception solution is a definite option for accommodation managers.