Accessing Guestroom Safes Talking RFID

With RFID locks rising in popularity, some hotel safe manufacturers are looking to adapt the technology for room safes.

RFID safes allow guests to use their room key to open the safe, which eliminates the need to create and memorize a passcode, said Bill Oliver, president for North America, VingCard Elsafe.


The new LTX-3 safe from Safemark has a custom finish on the front.

“You could do this with magstripe locks but the technology didn’t take off,” Oliver said. “RFID cards are much more robust and can carry a lot more information, and it doesn’t demagnetize like a magstripe card can.”

John Foley, VP of sales at Safemark Systems, worries that allowing a guest to use the same key to open the guestroom door and safe removes a layer of security around the guest’s possessions.

“We feel it’s dangerous,” Foley said. “We said this many years ago when everyone was using magstripe locks.”

If a guest loses a key, Foley said, whoever picks it up gains access to both the room and the safe, which is not true for a safe protected by a passcode.

Also, since many hotels issue a guest two keys, guests often leave one in the room when they go out, leaving the safe vulnerable to staff or anyone else in the room.

If RFID safes do gain in popularity, the technology could allow for smartphone-unlocked NFC safes similar to NFC door locks.

“I don’t think there’s been any significant development for NFC-enabled safes yet,” said Oliver. “Once you get NFC adoption on door locks, it wouldn’t be difficult to make that work.”

If considering NFC, hotels should be careful to distinguish between NFC compatible and NFC enabled,” Oliver said.

“By its nature RFID safes would be able to adopt NFC, but it might require some significant hardware changes,” Oliver said. “As opposed to a device that’s NFC-enabled, which would require a simple firmware upgrade.”