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Can I Use RFID in the Hospitality Industry?

Posted By RFID Journal, 06.27.2012
I am looking into whether radio frequency identification tags could be connected to guest-room keys. The aim is for employees to be able to read visitors' names as they walk by, so that they can then greet those guests by name. Would this be possible? And if so, what type of RFID tags would be best to use for hotel guest keys?

—Charlotte Åberg

Dear Charlotte,

It is possible to use RFID technology to identify guests, but this is not usually accomplished via a room key, which is typically a short-range RFID system.

In 2007, we wrote that the RFID Hospitality Management Systems (RHyMeS) Center at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, in Singapore, was demonstrating to hotel, resort and casino executives how to utilize RFID to personalize services (see As You Like It). The system, according to Ng Poh Oon, the center's manager, was designed to empower hotel staff members, particularly those coming into regular contact with guests, to identify and recognize visitors. "With this capability," he said, "the hotel staff would then be able to provide that extra personal touch, by addressing the guest by his or her name, and anticipating his or her needs accordingly."

I don't know if any hotels ever implemented the RHyMeS system. There might be privacy concerns involved. Some guests might like having employees walk up to them and greet them by name, while others might consider it creepy to be tracked throughout the facility. I would suggest, if you do create such a system, that you make sure guests opt in.

Here are some other articles that might prove relevant:

Hotel Employs RFID to Woo Guests
Starwood Hotels and Resorts offers an automatic check-in program, designed to appeal to tech-savvy travelers.

Outrigger Hotel Lets Guests Leave Cash and Credit Cards Behind
The Waikiki facility is deploying AlohaPay, a system enabling guests to use their room keys as contactless payment cards at retail locations in and near the facility.

RFID Serves Up Benefits for Guests and Hosts
Resorts, amusement parks, sports arenas and restaurants are among the hospitality and entertainment organizations using RFID to enhance the customer experience—and improve their bottom line.

Kyrgyzstan Resort Brings Service to the Beach With RFID
RTL Service devices with wireless communication to access points at Hotel Resort Caprice enable guests to order services, or to locate party members, while workers can use the system to find visitors before attempting to deliver food or service.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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