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Room Keys and Security

Author profile: Frank Fileccia
For over 32 years Frank Fileccia has been helping luxury inn, boutique hotel, resort and restaurant clients achieve their potential.
Control of guest room keys is one of the cornerstones of what hotels must do in order to provide the safety our guests have a right to expect under common law. We, as innkeepers, have an obligation to take reasonable care that our guests will be safe in their rooms from intrusions by people who may have room keys.

The following policies should be considered by all hoteliers who do not have key-card lock systems:

1. Room keys must not have any form of tag which identifies the hotel or key blank which is particularly unique among the surrounding area's hotels. No key tag at all is preferred.

2. Keys mustn't have the room number on them. Keys must be identified by a numeric or alpha code. That code cannot, in any way, directly correspond to the building or room numbers.

3. When keys are given to guests at registration the guest's room number must not be said aloud if there are others in hearing range. Room numbers should be shown to the guest in writing with a reminder that they should note it if a guest check-in packet is not used. Explain to the guest that the coding system is for their protection.

4. Guests should be asked for their room keys at checkout by the Guest Service Agents (GSAs). Hotel employees, particularly Housekeeping and Bell staff, who see guests who are obviously in the process of leaving the hotel for the final time (taking their luggage out) should ask guests if they have returned their room key. This is also a good time to thank them for staying with you and make other pleasantries.

5. Room attendants and others who find keys in guest rooms or elsewhere should place them in their pockets or in the locked key boxes provided, not on their carts where they are accessible to others, and turn them into their supervisor to be returned to the Front Desk.

6. All section masters, room masters grand masters and emergency masters, (normally kept in a safety box) should be signed out each time they are taken and their return noted. All of the keys should be stamped "DO NOT DUPLICATE." Persons who carry these keys should be spot checked to insure they have them on their person. The inspection is logged in the front office log.

7. A record must be kept of how many keys are made for each room and when they are made. This record must be reviewed on a weekly basis by the General Manager. The General Manager must initial and date the key making log each time s/he reviews it.

8. If indicated as a result of this review, the General Manager must instruct the maintenance staff either to rekey the lock or to exchange room locks around within a housekeeping section in order to save the expense of rekeying the lock.

Numbers on keys must be adjusted accordingly and overstamped until the old number is illegible and the new number stamped nearby if locks are swapped in a section. As a standard practice it is recommended that some locks in a section be moved quarterly.

9. A log must be kept of all lock swaps and rekeyings.

10. If a section master is lost under circumstances which may result in our guests being at risk, the entire section should be rekeyed. If you rekey a section consider also rekeying to a new grand master and emergency master so that you are in effect beginning a phased rekeying of the entire hotel if it has been some time since this was done.

11. If a master key or emergency key is lost under any circumstances it must be reported to the owner or corporate offices immediately by the General Manager. After the circumstances are discussed, they can decide whether the entire hotel should be rekeyed.

12. As an additional step, the General Manager or somebody s/he delegates the responsibility to must cross index all incidents of theft, missing property, damage, etc. as follows:

* Room Number or Location. (Watch out for locks that have been moved.)
* Names of potentially implicated employees (usually more than one). You may discover that room thefts never occur when so and so is off or regardless of the room number so and so was working in maintenance or housekeeping.

Remember, you want to do your best to protect your guests by anticipating potential problems and want to protect your business by taking "reasonable and prudent care" and documenting your actions.
Copyright?© Frank Fileccia

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