Automated access and parking for hotels and resorts

November 2007 Access Control & Identity Management

Large multidimensional resort hotels have been gaining immense popularity and with this increasing popularity, security and parking needs to become a major concern for the administrators of these resorts.

Twenty years ago, room security was a key. In the span of a few years, almost all hotels and resorts converted to a card-based room key and this trend is now propagating to other areas in a hotel operation. More and more hotels are using the key as the control device for parking as well as for charging for different facilities on the resort premises.

Parking used to be free at many resorts, now it often comes at a cost. Valet parking is another facility that is becoming common at resorts and access to many of these common facilities is controlled by the card or room key.

The emergence of valet parking poses new abilities and problems in the design of automated parking control. Many resorts have a common entrance and exit to the resort, but separate facilities for self and valet parking. So a control mechanism has to work in a self-parking mode at one entrance and a valet parking mode at a different entrance.

Today the latest trend on the design of many hotels includes campuses that have a mix of hotel, office space, residential units and recreational facilities that may be open to the public. This mix creates interesting requirements for the design of an access control system.


The biggest challenge in designing access and parking control systems for hotels and resorts is the transitory nature of the users. Here are some of the key challenges:

Fast in and fast out. A guest arrives at the resort. He needs to be checked in at the parking point and then be attended to equally quickly at the front desk. Security needs to be present but not cumbersome.

Room key focus. More and more resorts are tending to use the room key as the control device for all entry and exit control at parking areas as well as common facilities.

Automatic termination. Authorisation needs to terminate the same day as the guest leaves. However, the guest may well be on the premises many hours after checkout, so the system needs to be smart enough to know the difference between checkout and termination time. Many hotels also do not require a physical checkout and that can add different problems.

Other services. A resort can be like a small town, with restaurants, stores, games, recreational activities and more. Since the same access card can be used to procure such services, it is essential that the potential abuse is monitored.

Fee schedules and complementary parking. Some resorts offer special rates for casino users and visitors to other such amenities. These pose interesting problems with parking controls and the fee schedule that dictate these events.

Mixed-use facilities. Many complexes today are adding features like office space and long-term or permanent stay residential units. With this mix, the system has to know the difference between residential guests and hotel guests, and treat them accordingly.

Access requirements

Hotel guests

Many hotels today operate with a property management system that generates a card to be used by the guest to gain access to the hotel room as well as all approach areas to the room, such as corridors and lobbies. When parking garages are being used, the same card could be modified to grant entry to and exit from the parking facility. The card may also be used to open perimeter doors during night hours. On the guest's departure date, the card should automatically be voided by the access control system.

Non-hotel users

This group would include visitors to hotel guests, trade shows, restaurants, special events parkers etc. Non-hotel guests who need to visit the hotel for extended periods may be issued with temporary access control cards that would be valid for the time of their visit only. Non-hotel users who need to visit the hotel just once can be granted access to certain areas of the facility by manual control of the access point.


Hotel staff and employees need to be given access to various areas of the hotel at various times, depending on their job or position. For example, maintenance staff needs access to all the rooms at certain times of the day only, while management staff needs access to almost all the rooms at all times of the day. These access requirements can be met by issuing access cards to the staff that can also serve as their parking cards. If an employer leaves the employ of the hotel, his card can be voided by the administrator.

Parking requirements

Parking solutions for hotels have also been designed with the aforementioned three user groups in mind.

A parking revenue control system not only provides an accurate method of tracking all of the parking fees collected, but also provides a complete reporting system on the entire parking operation. The fees collected can pay off the system and once that has happened, the system has the benefit of providing an additional source of income.

From the Hotels Handbook - How to Design Automated Access Control & Parking Systems for Hotels.

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