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Is the Hospitality Industry Utilizing RFID?

Posted By RFID Journal, 02.07.2013
Have hotels explored the use of radio frequency identification to track assets within rooms, such as hair dryers, bath robes, televisions and so forth?



To my knowledge, no hotel has deployed radio frequency identification technologies specifically to track in-room items, such as dryers and TVs. Most hotels have focused on using RFID to improve the guest experience.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts offers an automatic check-in program designed to appeal to tech-savvy travelers. Members of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program staying at the chain's Aloft hotels no longer must wait in line to check in, as their SPG member card serves double-duty as a contactless room key. Guests receive a text message on their mobile device containing their room number, along with information regarding when that room will be available. Upon arriving at the hotel, visitors can then proceed directly to their room and gain entry using their RFID-enabled member card (see Hotel Employs RFID to Woo Guests).

Some hotels are switching from magstripe cards to RFID-enabled room keys. At Nelson Lodge, located at Canada's Revelstoke ski resort, guests use RFID key cards to access their rooms. In the future, they will be able to utilize the cards—or even their cell phones—to ride lifts, rent equipment and partake of meals, spas and other amenities and services (see At Nelson Lodge, RFID Will Unlock More than Doors).

RFID room keys can also be used to pay for items. At one of its Hawaiian properties, luxury hotel chain Outrigger Enterprises Group piloted an RFID-based cashless-payment system known as AlohaPay, provided by startup software developer Enrich Systems. AlohaPay allowed a hotel to provide its guests with a contactless plastic card they can use like a credit card to pay for purchases both in and outside the hotel property, and to access guest rooms via RFID-enabled locks (see Outrigger Hotel Lets Guests Leave Cash and Credit Cards Behind).

Some hotels have begun employing RFID to track laundry and staff uniforms. The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, located in Vancouver, Canada, is employing soft rubber RFID tags to manage sheets, uniforms and other laundered assets, thereby reducing the amount of labor required for tracking inventory and lost items, as well as the need for safety stock (see Vancouver Hotel Tracks an Olympic Quantity of Washable Items).

The Alvear Palace, a luxury hotel located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has replaced its manual system for tracking laundry with an RFID solution. The old setup often resulted in misplaced uniforms, and sometimes led to inadequate supplies of clean garments for workers clocking in at the start of a shift (see Hotel Keeps Uniform Inventory With RFID).

It's difficult to say when hotels might begin using RFID to track in-room items or supply chain deliveries.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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