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Six Custom Hotel Key Card Considerations


Creating custom hotel key cards requires making a few important choices. Whether you require magnetic stripe key cards or RFID, proper planning will help ensure that your hotel or resort’s key cards not only look great, but also reliably get your guests into their rooms after a long day of travel.

Here are a few things to consider prior to placing your custom key card order:

  1. Thickness – Standard key card thickness is 30mil, which is the same thickness used on credit cards. While you could save money using a lighter thickness, it will be at the expense of longevity and brand image. In most cases, sticking with a 30mil thickness is recommended.
  2. Finish – While a variety of finishes are available, most hotel key cards come with a UV or overlay finish. Both of these finishes will help protect your cards from scuffs and scratches, with UV finish being higher gloss.
  3. Magnetic Stripe/RFID – This is a big one. Whether purchasing magnetic stripe key cards or contactless RFID cards, it’s vital to ensure that the proper type of magnetic stripe or card chip is utilized during manufacturing. If not, your cards won’t work properly. You can obtain encoding and chip information from your lock vendor.
  4. Advertising Revenue – Your hotel key cards are more than room keys, they’re also an advertising medium and an ancillary revenue stream. Many hotels sell advertising on their key cards to local businesses, trade shows and other advertisers. If you want to sell key card advertising for a special event, such as when trade shows offer key card advertising to sponsors, you will need to establish a relationship with a short-run plastic card manufacturer to avoid high print minimums.
  5. Inventory – Key cards are consumables, and while they aren’t consumed at the same rate as say toilet paper or shampoo, they don’t last forever. Whether they’re kept as souvenirs or run over by the maid cart, many key cards never make it back to the front desk. That’s why it’s important to forecast usage and buy in bulk. Buying more cards less frequently will reduce your unit cost, and help ensure that you’re properly supplied. If space is an issue, some card manufacturers will warehouse your cards for delivery as needed.
  6. Source – Did you know that you don’t necessarily need to buy hotel key cards from your lock vendor? After all, they’re in the lock business, not the card printing business, which means they will need to outsource your job. Establishing a direct relationship with a plastic card printer cannot only save you money, but also streamline customer service.

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