Budget Hotels can now delight customers with a safe “stay at home” experience
India’s largest budget hotel chain has a tie-up with nearly 7000 hotels in about 250 cities in India. They have done this in three years of coming into existence and still have a large part of the market untapped.
While there are no clear statistics available, a conservative estimate would indicate more than 100,000 rooms being reserved in budget hotels (below the 4-star category) in India every day.
The Hospitality sector landscape
The hospitality sector and the players offering services around the sector focus on 4-star and 5-star hotels dominated by the Marriott’s and Hiltons of the world. They have over-time built an accepted list of equipment that takes care of the security and service levels. However, for every 4 or 5-star room, there are more than 10 rooms in the categories that fall in the 3-star or less category.
While the demand is great for the budget hotels due to exponential increase in tourism- be it religious, medical or leisure tourism – the single major concern for the tourists is security. For a tourist or any guest, secure accommodation is of paramount importance and if that can be given, there would definitely be an increase in use of such accommodation amongst the ever expanding “indigenous” tourist.
Security – a primary concern
While the major players in the 4 and 5-star categories have security locking equipment from the leading global hotel lock manufacturers such as Vingcard, Kaba and Onity, no such standardisation exists for the budget hotels. Again, there has been no concentrated effort by any lock manufacturer to try and address this area given that the known brands become unaffordable for budget hotels due to stiff entry barriers in the form of freight, custom duties and local taxes.
So, why are these hotels not ensuring a good locking system and losing customer’s trust in the bargain?
We did some research and found that luxury hotels leverage the government’s export promotion capital goods (EPCG) scheme to buy locks and offset it against their forex transactions. However, the equation completely changes when it comes to hotels which are in the 3-star category or less. They do not get the benefit of the EPCG scheme and with the import duty and value added taxes, they often have to shell out almost double the cost of the locks in INR thus pushing it way beyond the budget for most of the hotels in the budget hotels category. As a result, the budget hotels still depend upon the traditional lock and key systems which are inherently not secure.
Dolphin Locks – a comprehensive safety & security solution
Imagine the potential of Indian hospitality and tourism sector if this primary concern of security is addressed. Dolphin has realized this need and launched RFID hotel locks which would not only ideally suit the budget range but also offer a comprehensive solution to these budget hotels by looking at both their security and energy management requirements in one stroke. To meet the varied requirements in this sector, three models of hotel locks have been launched as follows:
- Asteria with a live LED display, not found even in the far more expensive brands. This lock is an ideal fit for higher graded hotels which have lesser budget constraints.
- Vidala with a split finish look. Ideal for all levels of budget hotels.
- Sleek with a fully waterproof body which allows the lock to be used in adverse conditions such as rain prone areas, sea front etc.
All the locks come standard with options for elevator control, access control for back-of-the-house areas and energy management switches which permit only the specific room programme card to switch on the power in the rooms. Audit trails are inbuilt in the locks for better security. The locks are suitable for both thin and thick doors.
All Dolphin Locks come with manual override option where a computerized manual key can open the room in case of any emergency or a battery dead situation. The keys can be individual for each room or a master key for the entire property. As the locks seamlessly integrate with property management systems such as Opera and IDS, it can be used by all types of hotels to address their safety and energy management.
With these locks, Dolphin is aiming to fulfil a huge latent demand in this market – a market which cannot be addressed by the big, established players such as Vingcard, Kaba,and Onity.
Dolphin locks offer much more
While safety and security of the guests is the primary concern that would be addressed through Dolphin locks, the add-on advantages as listed below make these locks a “must have” for the budget hotels as they handle key pain areas of the budget hotels.
Audit Trial: The hotel owners and administrators have often told us that they battle with managers who “sell” the hotel room for a few hours to their friends or acquaintances without recording the same in the system. An audit trial comprising information on who has entered the room, when and how many times during the day is vital for owners and the administration of such hotels. The Dolphin locks provide this audit trial and hence are a deterrent to malpractices and leakage. Audit Trails also help to solve tricky loss issues triggered by errant staff who pilfer guest belongings. It thus helps the hotel to maintain a good brand image.
No more duplicate keys: With Dolphin locks, the concept of duplicate keys is not required and hence, the occupants (tourists/ visitors) get an additional assurance about the safety of their accommodation. This leads to an increase in repeat guests and an improved bottom line.
Efficient energy management: The doors fitted with Dolphin locks can be opened using the RFID enabled card programmed for that door only. The same card (and nothing else) can be used to switch on the power in the room and with it the devices. Hence, if the card is taken out and there is no occupant in the room, power supply is cut off and loss of energy is minimized. Efficient energy management is the need of the hour in our country, especially in the Tier2 and Tier 3 cities where such hotels mostly operate.
Accountability and brand building: The hotel managers will have to issue the cards to the guests once the Dolphin locks are implemented. This would mean that the hotel rooms cannot be used for any nefarious activities without leaving an audit trial. The hotel rooms are hence much cleaner and well maintained. It will also create a good brand image for the hotel and would enable families to come and stay in the hotels thereby increasing bookings.
Pioneering RFID enabled locks for budget hotels
With security, energy efficiency, brand building and reputation management being the obvious advantages, Dolphin locks are poised to revolutionize the budget hotel segment in India. Even modest estimates would suggest that more than 80% of the tourists would prefer to use hotels which use electronic locks to secure their guests.
With more than 22 years of experience as the sole distributors of Kaba locks in India, Dolphin is an established player in the field. Its own proprietary middleware and product expertise makes Dolphin an ideal partner for implementation of a comprehensive security and safety system for budget hotels.
Dolphin will be one of the few company in the world to serve all the hotel categories for electronic locks. Their experience and knowledge can be leveraged to enhance customer experience and ensure customer delight.
What is the future?
The RFID lock key cards can become a centralized means to access the services of the hotel. The cards can become a loyalty card wherein the incentives and freebies to the guests can be administered through the card. This card can be used at various POS enabled outlets within the hotel or for use of services such as gym, game parlours, massage parlours, swimming pools etc.
Thus, the key cards would play a vital role in enabling to track and manage assets of the hotel; it also gives information that can be used for better “linen and uniform management”, and also enable to open and close lockers for frequent visitors/ guests.
In the not so distant future, smartphones may not be required to open locks. Dolphin is aware of this emerging trend and has the capability to enable the guests to use their NFC smartphones to open the allocated door locks. NFC enabled smartphones can easily replace the use of cards as they are safe and secure and linked to a guest’s mobile phone.
If you are a hotel owner or administrator or even a guest frequenting tier-2 and tier-3 cities, I am sure you would have questions. I would be happy to address the questions that you mail to me at suresh@