Guestroom safes that offer online tracking systems can improve a hotel’s operational efficiency, but they may not be a fit for all properties.
Online tracking can ease the checkout process by making it less likely that a guest will leave a personal item in the room safe, said Bill Oliver, president for North America, VingCard Elsafe.
“Because the safe is online, the front desk can either check to see if the safe is still locked or can get an automatic alert that the safe is still locked,” Oliver said. “So the clerk can ask [the guests], did you empty your safe?”
Front-desk staff can prevent items from being left in the safe by merely querying departing guests at check-out.
Tracking this process is important because it can be a potential liability issue for hotels, Oliver said. “A guest might say, ‘But I left $1,000 in there, and you only found $20!’” Hotels can mitigate this issue by asking guests if they have left anything in the room safe before they leave the hotel.
Online tracking for hotel safes may not be a fit for smaller properties due to the cost involved in setting up the system, said John Foley, VP of sales at Safemark.
“We get some requests, but every time a property looks at the budget they say forget about it,” he said.
Larger properties can make better use of online tracking because of the sheer number of guests using safes each day, Foley said.
“At a property the size of MGM Grand in Las Vegas, you might have 60 guest openings or 100 service calls a day, so big box properties just have different ways of tracking different products inside the guestroom,” he said.
At the same time, it can be possible for safes to offer online tracking more easily by plugging into an online tracking system a hotel already has, such as for an emergency management system, Foley added. “We promote an open architecture so we can plug into any backbone.”
Online or offline, a secure record of the safe remains a key selling point. “We still see security and integrity being the primary specification piece of all the brands having an audit trail that’s bullet-proof,” Floey said.