Hotels are often romanticized as a getaway destination where guests can relax and recharge in a safe and private environment. This reputation is well-earned and is a testament to the consistency of guest experiences throughout the industry.
A positive hotel experience is of course dependent on factors like the attentiveness of hotel staff and the type of amenities available, but it can be aided by powerful technology. In fact, one of the most impactful technologies in the hotel market right now is one most people probably wouldn’t think of: Video Management Software (VMS).
VMS is essential to providing guests with a sense of safety as well as a positive experience. In fact, some of the world’s largest resorts and casinos, like the Marriott Gaylord Opryland and the WinStar Casino are using video management software to ensure the safety of guests and staff. Let’s pull back the curtain on the unlikely hero of the hotel and hospitality industry, with five ways VMS technology is reshaping hotels, as well as resorts, casinos, and cruise ships:
1. Motion detection with video analytics
VMS, together with vandal-resistant, digital-zoom, high-resolution cameras, offers advanced motion detection. This technology detects moving objects in its field of view and creates an instant alert, notifying hotel staff of activity in a specific area of the hotel. This is especially useful in dimly lit spaces or areas of the hotel property that are not patrolled at night. Motion detection with a high degree of sensitivity is used to cover areas where hotel security knows nobody should be. When movement is detected in one of these motion-covered areas, the VMS sends an alert, and the property can dispatch a security person to the location.
The technology is so advanced that—together with video analytics—security staff is able to search and catalogue sources of motion. For example, if hotel staff would like to know if a person with a blue motorcycle passed by a certain entrance between three and four o’clock on a specific day, with the VMS’ advanced search and analytics, they are able to find all persons fitting that description in mere seconds. Or perhaps hotel staff is searching for a runner wearing a yellow shirt and a ponytail who might have jogged through the parking lot sometime in the last 30 days. Again, with the VMS’ advanced video analytics they are able to find all persons fitting that description in a matter of seconds.
Motion detection technology together with advanced video analytics are extremely beneficial to guests because they bolster existing security measures and empowers hotel staff to be even more diligent in providing around the clock safety to their guests.
2. License plate recognition
License Plate Recognition (LPR) is a powerful tool that can automatically read and identify vehicle license plate information. Of course, the technology is incredibly useful to law enforcement to identify stolen cars, but it also has several important applications in the hotel and hospitality industry.
LPR can identify unauthorized or illegally parked cars on a hotel’s premises. It can also use video analytics together with access control to analyse license plates and trigger an action (like opening a gate to grant access to authorized vehicles). Additionally, LPR technology can monitor and recognize ridesharing drivers who are picking up and dropping off guests. LPR can identify drivers upon arrival, calculate their time spent parked in areas with time limits, and help hotel staff to track drivers who exceed parking time limits, or become a nuisance by loitering or bothering guests. LPR can also identify drivers (based on their license plates) who have been banned from the property. Not only is this technology a powerful security solution, but it also works to improve guest satisfaction by ensuring that only approved drivers are on a property and they don’t exceed time limits.
3. Visitor counting
As vaccines and suitcases begin to roll-out, hotels will begin to reach capacity again as wanderlusts venture back out on their traveling adventures. This is good news for hotels who will of course welcome back visitors with open arms.
However, some resorts have guest capacity limits and need to be aware of the number of people in the hotel at any given time. VMS, together with people counting software, can monitor and count the number of guests arriving and leaving a hotel to ensure that capacity regulations are met. Not only does this help to ensure that the hotel does not exceed its capacity, but it also generates useful data to help hotel management with risk mitigation and compliance.
4. Access control
If hotel capacity limits are reached or there are potentially unwanted visitors, the VMS can be setup to use access control technology to automatically open and close doors, gates, and other access points. This is often used in tandem with LPR to prevent non-guests and non-staff from using the parking lot, for example.
In the past, hotels provided staff or guests with key cards to open doors. Later, some hotels began offering “mobile” key card experiences where a staff member or guest unlocks their phone, navigates to an app, searches for a specific door and requests to open it. Now, this technology has evolved into something that requires little to no interaction from the staff member or guest to gain access. Consider a group of guests that come together to use a hotel’s facilities for a private event. Now the mobile app has built-in geo-fencing and is able to determine when each guest enters a determined location. At that point, it wakes up and starts automatically opening pre-determined doors on that person’s route as he/she approaches them. This technology, combined with LPR, is an effective way hotels are using VMS to bolster security and safety and improve the guest experience.
5. The control room
The final technology critical to the success of a proper VMS installation is one of the most important: the control room where all the monitoring takes place. It’s no secret that most businesses, including hotels and casinos, are currently dealing with a reduction in staff and often high turnover during the pandemic.
Fortunately, the control room can alleviate this issue by compensating for and supporting smaller security teams. Live feeds of every camera on the entire hotel property are monitored through a video wall that allows operators to easily manage and shift through different camera views. Depending on the time of day, security may need to change the camera views and focus on different areas of a hotel. When integrated with motion detection, analytics, people counting, LPR and access control, the video wall is the ultimate security tool for hotels, resorts, casinos and cruise ships.
Hotels are implementing video management software to be more secure than ever before, and this has a direct, positive impact on guest experiences. The future of technology in the hotel and hospitality industry is bright, as more businesses adopt video solutions to improve their operations.
About the Author
Since 2010, Jennifer Hones has been a passionate member of the physical security technology industry. She has held various global strategic project-driven and role-based positions during her tenure at Milestone, ranging from learning and performance, product management, marketing, sales, and operations. Jennifer has spent time at other organizations managing national distribution, system integrator, and consultant channels, as well as business development. She has been involved in industry associations as Secretary of the Columbia River ASIS chapter in 2018, and the Women in Security liaison and Webmaster in 2019. Jennifer is currently managing the Key Account Team at Milestone, with its focus on enterprise and federal end-user engagement.