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MarkEsq
04-29-2016, 11:31 PM
I was wondering whether it would be possible to tell who entered a hotel room, or maybe at what time, by looking at electronic key card use. Do hotels have the ability to check/track that? I'm talking luxury hotel here, not Days Inn...

Basically, I'm wanting a hotel employee to be able to access a guest's hotel room without them knowing, and then without anyone being able to check later to see when it happened, or who wielded the card.

AW Admin
04-29-2016, 11:39 PM
It's all logged with time stamps.

But what's logged is the card used; so the thing a nefarious person would do is temporarily swipe someone else's key card, use it, then surreptitiously slip it back.

This is a fairly common occurrence, enough so that there are procedures for what to do if you think this has happened.

It's possible a hotel would be na´ve enough to have a "pool" of cards for housekeeping, but that strikes me hard to believe.

The technicians who set up the system initially would typically say "don't do this."

GeorgeK
04-30-2016, 02:43 AM
Baddie walks through the hall when housekeeping is down the hall, swipes the card, gets in the room, does whatever, makes the bed, takes out the trash, leaves a do not disturb on the doorknob and replaces the card with housekeeping. When housekeeping is off the floor remove the do not disturb sign. A cursory check of the records will just list it as housekeeping and if baddie cleaned up the place a bit nobody will question it. A detailed review of the floor records could reveal that the room was entered out of order.

R.Barrows
04-30-2016, 03:04 AM
This is a fairly common occurrence, enough so that there are procedures for what to do if you think this has happened.

It's possible a hotel would be na´ve enough to have a "pool" of cards for housekeeping, but that strikes me hard to believe.


I agree. Proper security procedure would make it difficult for a breach of protocol to remain untraceable. But if you only care about preventing them from being immediately untraceable, or if you just want to make it possible, then you can get away with some creative license here.

Have the antagonist remove a card-key from the secured card-keys right after she turned hers in. (This assumes he can do so without identifying himself). If he returns it directly after his actions, it will point to the maid accessing the room. Bonus points if he does it to a maid that would normally be on that level of the ship and in that area. To determine if the 'maid did it' they will have to interview the maid. That will then go to a witness. Witnesses are unreliable. So, bonus points if he also arranges for a particularly unreliable maid to be handling those rooms. Point the motives toward someone with a bad reputation to begin with.

Your antagonist must be smart and forward thinking. He must arrange for the correct maid to be servicing the correct location at the right time. Your antagonist must know the system and the security protocols. And your antagonist must have a secondary plan in place in case he/she is caught.

CEtchison
04-30-2016, 03:17 AM
Aside from the key card tracking, you'd have a bunch of security cameras on every floor so it'd be difficult to go completely undetected unless your employee worked in security.

I've forwarded your question to my husband since he's built several high end hotels and casinos.

R.Barrows
04-30-2016, 03:26 AM
Aside from the key card tracking, you'd have a bunch of security cameras on every floor so it'd be difficult to go completely undetected unless your employee worked in security.

I thought about this too. Last time I was on a cruise ship (which was in 2002, admittedly) they didn't have cameras on every floor. So it depends on your timeline. Probably on the cruise lines and ship too. Some will have cameras in the hallways, some will not. That would be my guess. Something to research. I noticed in those that had them, the cameras were static. Servers recording the camera data were doing so on a loop that was constantly over-recorded. Given today's memory capacity, there's no reason why everything couldn't be digitized and recorded. So the question is, do they have the cameras? And, if so, can they recorded data be modified or deleted without anyone noticing? A camera failure at that time would be serendipitous. A recording duplicate would be noticed (after analysis). What might not point to the antagonist? That's a tough one.

Cyia
04-30-2016, 03:28 AM
Cards are recodable. All he needs is a blank card with a magnetic strip, a card swiper, and someone capable of hacking the hotel's system. He can make his own card, keyed to the hotel room's door. It will show that someone entered, but only the camera will tell you who it was.

But, yes, all hotels with electronic key access actively track who enters and when. It's a liability issue in cases of theft or other crime.

However, a few years ago, I stayed in a ridiculously nice hotel/room. The cleaning staff kept using the inner lock to prop the doors open when they left to get something out of the hall. (The deadbolt at the top of the lock that swings from the door to the jamb.) They'd swing the deadbolt out while the door was open. From the outside, it appeared locked, but all you had to do was lean on it to get inside. They'd do this while replacing towels and linens because they had to make multiple trips outside, and it was difficult to manage with a keycard in one hand. They also put the Do Not Disturb signs out to keep track of which rooms they'd cleared (before restocking towels and sheets) and which ones they hadn't, meaning that it looked like the rooms were occupied, so no one else on staff would even think to enter a room. They'd clear all the linens from rooms 1-10 at once, put out the locks and the cards, then one-by-one go back through and fix the new linens, so there were open rooms unlocked while the staff was in another suite. (We missed deliveries thanks to this method because they kept forgetting to put the lock back and take the sign off.)

If someone on staff happens to walk in while your guy is doing his thing, start the shower and have the baddie pretend he's been there the whole time, but didn't hear housekeeping. They'll run for the next room to keep from being reprimanded for cleaning while a guest was in suite.

Twenty people could have come and gone while they were in one of the other rooms being cleaned and no one would have known the difference. The cards only tell the computer when someone enters, not when they leave.

CEtchison
04-30-2016, 04:01 AM
Okay. Husband says your best shot of a someone breaking into a high-end hotel undetected would be a hotel IT guy. He'd have access to backups, entry code data, security footage, etc. Could always say the system was down for maintenance at that particular moment in time.

WeaselFire
04-30-2016, 05:19 AM
Basically, I'm wanting a hotel employee to be able to access a guest's hotel room without them knowing, and then without anyone being able to check later to see when it happened, or who wielded the card.

First, a card can't tell who used it. Second, you don't need a key card to get into many rooms. Most locks, key card or otherwise, can be defeated in numerous ways without unlocking. If you want it to really go down with nobody's knowledge, give them a ground floor room with a sliding glass door.

Jeff

jclarkdawe
04-30-2016, 05:23 AM
How talented is your character? IT guy is going to leave some footprints as he does the erasing he's going to need to do.

The door is one issue. The cameras are another thing entirely. It's normal these days to assume a camera at each end of a hallway, and one facing the elevators. Stairs might also have a camera. Basically your character has to get into the stairwell or the elevators, off the elevators or out of the stairwell on the right floor, and then walk down the corridor, all without anyone recognizing your character.

That's next to impossible for an employee. Someone will recognize him.

Your character, assuming a somewhat average build, needs to identify another employee that looks like him or her. On a day when your character is off, your character has to show up looking sufficiently like the other employee to fool people on the cameras. Then the character uses a key card identified as the other person. It's hard to pull off.

Other alternative is giving a stranger a key card for the room and figure the chances of anyone recognizing him are next to impossible.

Jim Clark-Dawe

blacbird
04-30-2016, 05:28 AM
all hotels with electronic key access actively track who enters and when.

Not exactly. They track what card is used and when. No way can the key card track who is holding it. Security cameras may help, but they are far from perfect protectors.

caw

Cyia
04-30-2016, 05:39 AM
Faulty wording on my part. They know if it was the guest or the staff. Different codes.

cmhbob
04-30-2016, 06:58 AM
The data is kept on the door lock, which can be interrogated by the card encoder, at least at the hotel where I was a night auditor.

We had 2-3 master keys for desk staff, and half a dozen keys coded for housekeeping. The HSKP keys were accounted for and kept in a drawer at the front desk, not locked. But they had a number Sharpied on them, and we had a paper log of which housekeeper got which key.

Front desk staff couldn't look at a key and tell you what room it was for. The encoder might be able to, but the average front desk agent doesn't have the credentials to do that.

At our hotel (a La Quinta franchise property), it was possible to take the encoder up to a room and interrogate that room. Can't recall if it involved a cable or an IR reader; that probably varies with the lock system used.

Cyia
04-30-2016, 07:30 AM
New high-tech hotels have RFDI equipped wristbands, too. They store a scary amount of information about your movements on property.

tiggs
04-30-2016, 12:16 PM
Entry info is stored in the lock itself. A decent hacker will be able to make you a device to wipe it.

James D. Macdonald
04-30-2016, 01:11 PM
Many of your electronic key-card locks also have a standard keyhole-type lock somewhere on them, so that when the electronics fail you can still open the door. It may be hidden behind a removable plate. That may be another path into the room.

Cyia
04-30-2016, 03:44 PM
Actually, now that I think about it, as far back as 2003 The Happiest Place on Earth could print out a list of everything you'd swiped with your "Key to the World" by user. Of course, they assign specific cards to each person, and they're used for much more than just room entry, but in the case of complaints, they could actually show you where you and the members of your party were or weren't at the time. And now that they and places like the Wolf Lodge waterpark complexes have those wristband things, they store names, credit cards, etc, and can be used to track children who have wandered away.

MarkEsq
04-30-2016, 09:11 PM
Guys, this is amazing. Thank you ALL so much for your input. Invaluable - i was going to call the Four Seasons and question them but now I don't need to!

Seriously, I'm very grateful to you all, this is just what I needed to know. :)

blacbird
04-30-2016, 11:08 PM
As an aside, about five years ago I was an exhibitor at a professional meeting, and for freebies, we were handing out little magnets with my company's logo on them. These suckers were very powerful, and were the kind people like to use on magnetic boards to hold up papers and other displays for presentations. Good as refrigerator magnets, too.

One of my close friends took one, stuck it in his pocket next to his hotel key card, and it erased the key card.

caw

cmhbob
05-01-2016, 12:46 AM
As an aside, about five years ago I was an exhibitor at a professional meeting, and for freebies, we were handing out little magnets with my company's logo on them. These suckers were very powerful, and were the kind people like to use on magnetic boards to hold up papers and other displays for presentations. Good as refrigerator magnets, too.

One of my close friends took one, stuck it in his pocket next to his hotel key card, and it erased the key card.

caw

At the hotel I used to work at, people would put their keys next to credit cards in their wallets, and that would erase the key card.

Cyia
05-01-2016, 07:27 AM
At the hotel I used to work at, people would put their keys next to credit cards in their wallets, and that would erase the key card.

Cellphones and smartphones do that, too. Isn't technology wonderful?