Biometrics technology has taken firm root in several sectors globally, including finance, home appliances and retail. It's only natural that it's also taking big strides in the hospitality industry.
Oracle’s Hotel 2025 report states that 62% of consumers agreed that their experience would be improved with biometric technology such as facial recognition. Additionally, 41% stated they would visit hotels more frequently if they offered this service.
This means you can expect more touchpoints with biometric screening (including facial recognition technology, fingerprint scanners and voice recognition, iris/retina scanning and digital signatures) in the hospitality industry in the near future.
Why biometrics in hospitality?
Biometric technologies are designed to ensure the highest levels of security, with extremely low chances of breaches and fraud. Integrating this technology in the hospitality industry is not just about convenience; it's about creating a safer, more efficient travel experience.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) calls this "seamless travel", which in a 2021 report it defined as:
[A] journey during which the traveler no longer needs to present travel-related documents (e.g. boarding passes) or identification documents (e.g. passport) multiple times to a variety of stakeholders at different checkpoints in their journey. Travelers will be able to book transportation, check-in, proceed through security, cross borders, board their aircraft, collect luggage, rent a car, check-in and out of their hotel and other non-air services, simply by confirming their identity and booking data in a contactless way.
Scanner devices at hotels can help maintain and monitor staff and guest logs, as well as assist in hotel management and payroll transparency.
For example, you can record hotel staff attendance and guest check-in and check-out times using biometric technology without manual intervention. This saves everyone the burden of carrying physical ID cards or remembering tough codes/passwords to gain access.
Biometric tools combine security and hygiene
Biometrics can also help eliminate contact points people might be wary of after the COVID-19 pandemic. With the ability to quickly and accurately identify individuals, additional health checks can be seamlessly integrated into the process.
This ensures a safer environment for hotel guests and peace of mind for everyone involved. More travelers are likely to book accommodations that have contactless biometric services.
For instance, you could check in with a face scan and use your fingerprint for room access, thus ensuring hygiene and security together.
In addition to these, there are many other uses and benefits to having a biometric screening system installed in hotels. Let’s discuss some of them.
Uses and benefits of biometric screening in hotels
Access control in restricted areas
The chief use of biometric screening in hospitality is to restrict access to certain areas by unauthorized people. You can reduce risks for your guests by ensuring only approved personnel can access your hotel areas, such as guest rooms, employee zones and so on.
In the post-COVID era, many travelers want to minimize contact with people as much as possible. Biometric screening can assure them that you've replaced any avoidable human contact with automated systems.
Faster check-in and check-out processes
Using biometric screens in hotels can also streamline guests' check-in and check-out processes. All they need is to maintain a traveler profile with their biometric details to enable this.
Steps like iris scanning or facial recognition can verify the identity of travelers instantly, sparing them from having to wait in queues or spend needless time at the front desk.
You also don’t need manual ID checks or physical documents, thus reducing contamination risks and speeding up the process.
This way, your hotel guests can enjoy their vacation time to the fullest, for which they’ll be thankful.
Biometric screening also leads to fewer lines and hold-ups, which in turn results in higher visitor returns and positive reviews for your hotel.
You can also handle more customers in a shorter period of time. So, it's a win-win situation for all!
Integration with existing systems for higher efficiency
You don't need to change the whole infrastructure to add innovative technology like biometrics to your hotel.
Biometric technologies can easily integrate with a hotel's existing infrastructure and IT systems, such as property management systems, booking platforms, check-in kiosks, and accounting and invoicing systems.
Your staff can then manage access and security around the premises without carrying keys or cards. You can also use biometrics to form a synced, automated and integrated system tailored to your business needs.
Scalability and flexibility
Biometric systems offer limitless scalability and flexibility in hotel systems.
A cloud-based biometric access control system, for example, lets you add and remove users, control access points and upgrade the scale to match your hotel’s growth.
Whether you run a small hotel/AirBnB or an international chain of hotels, you can adopt biometric screening at your property and upgrade it later as the business grows. This is a sure way of futureproofing your hotel and gaining an edge over competitors.
Smoother employee management
Biometric systems, in addition to ensuring security, let you track staff hours, record attendance and track access history when needed. You can use it for convenient employee management without manual intervention in daily tasks, which can reduce friction with employees.
Automated systems boost productivity across all levels of hotel operations and reduce the need for manual resources in payroll-related tasks.
Cost reduction and higher ROI
Last but not least, switching to biometrics can reduce your total cost of ownership and provide a better return on investment in the long run.
Biometric systems are easy to manage, require minimal maintenance, and remove manual processes, thus reducing operational costs and staff hours.
Additionally, their ability to integrate with your hotel systems ensures that you don’t need a huge setup cost or change in infrastructure.
This way, your ROI gets a huge boost, and your operations are handled smoothly.
Creating a personalized guest experience
Biometric screening has branched out from being merely a security system to a way to create a personalized guest experience.
With features like preference tracking and user behavior observation, you can offer a customized stay experience to returning guests, thus ensuring customer loyalty.
The best thing is; you need a reasonable setup cost, and you're all set for the future, updated with the industry’s latest standards, and highly secured for your guests.
Collecting and using biometric data ethically
Before we conclude, it behooves us to talk about the elephant in the room: the ethical handling of consumer data. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council report cited above, this is an area of concern that must be addressed with the understanding that there is no "one-size fits all" solution and that successful initiatives "will be grounded in cross-border collaborations and strong partnerships between private companies and government entities".
The WTTC further posits that transparency around collection and privacy is among the core principles upon which the hospitality industry must base its best practices for the use of biometric data.
First and foremost among these is the idea that biometric data used for identity verification is is owned, managed and provided to stakeholders by the traveler:
The foundation of a traveller’s digital identity is the collection of authenticated and verifiable data. From an identity perspective, this must be based on a government-issued identification (e.g. passport, national ID, driver license). Any additional data the traveller chooses to include in their digital identity is authenticated and verifiable by stakeholders. When travelers are asked to share their data, it is done in a fully transparent manner, through simple and clear consent requests. Traveler data should only be shared when operationally required and zero-knowledge messages should be used when possible.
With approved data regulations in place, biometrics can revolutionize the hotel industry now and far into the future, while making the guest journey a smoother and more secure one.
What technology does your hotel use to enhance the guest experience and improve security? Let us know, and learn more about how PressReader is partnering with hotel operations to help their properties stand out.