Why custom printed hotel key cards may be cheaper than you think

Quay Hotel key card

Don’t default to off-the-shelf hotel key cards when you could buy custom printed for a similar price

Another few weeks of guests failing to hand their key cards back in?

Before you default to ordering more cards off-the-shelf from your card lock supplier, take a look at custom printed.

If it’s the cost that puts you off, you might just be surprised at how they stack up.

The larger the order, the lower the unit price

As with any custom printed item, the set-up is where most of the cost is loaded. So the more you print, the less each card costs. And the more likely it is that custom key cards will work out cheaper than off the shelf ones.

So whereas 100 branded, double sided hotel key cards (with magnetic stripe) might not seem so attractive at £114 + VAT (or £1.14 each), 500 will only set you back £190 + VAT (or 38p each).

Order 1000, and they work out at just 27p each. And we believe that’s a similar price to what you’ll be paying for a non-branded version.

So if you tend to order smaller batches a few times a year, you could stock up for the full 12 months with branded cards for around the same price.

(Also we don’t charge extra for including a magnetic stripe like other companies do, it’s all part of the package.)

If you need RFID key cards, the same cost savings apply. We use Mifare Classic smart cards, which contain genuine NXP contactless chips.

The Langham hotel key card
The Langham Hotel, London

Why buy branded anyway?

A branded card is always going to make a greater impression on a guest than a generic one. And it can also play an important part of your promotional or branding strategy.

Your hotel key cards are capable of much more than just opening doors. They’re like a mini billboard in your guest’s pocket; a highly visible reminder of your brand and services, so make it count.

You could use them to:

  • Advertise a specific promotion within your restaurant
  • Promote an upgrade offer
  • Promote your spa or leisure facilities
  • Raise awareness of a sister establishment or partner
  • Offer discounts off their next booking within a specific timeframe
  • Provide guest reminders on the back, for example details of checkout time, breakfast and numbers for front desk, housekeeping etc.

Rugby world cup hotel key cardOr just use them as a branding opportunity and push out your key messages.

All our key cards are double sided and printed in full colour for the same price, so you should make the back count too.

You could also advertise a nearby attraction through a partnership deal, and have the partner pay for the production of the hotel key cards.

Worth doing a price comparison?

The end of the Hotel Receptionist?

Smartphone technology will get some hotel guests straight into their room – without having to check in at the front desk

Empty receptions could soon be the norm if smartphone technology takes off

On arrival at your hotel, would you prefer to bypass reception, make your way straight to your room, wave your smartphone over the lock and hey presto, you’re checked in?

The answer will probably depend on how far you’ve travelled, the reason for your stay, and what generation you are.

For a certain kind of traveller, it’s almost certainly going to be a reason they’ll choose one kind of hotel over another.

It’s been talked about for a while, and it’s nearly here

Virtual keys, powered through an app that uses Bluetooth technology on your smartphone are being trialled and perfected by a handful of hotel chains. They signal the end of lengthy check-in queues for weary travellers, and the frustration of hotel key cards fails after you’ve dragged your bags half way across the hotel.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the US have been working on their virtual room key for months now. The app isn’t released yet, but they’re asking for people to ‘opt-in’ to register for the pilot. They’re confident that it will be a game changer for the industry, and as an early adopter, a real opportunity for them to carve out a distinct position.

Hardly a coincidence then that have chosen to trial the technology in their Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, which is just around the corner from Apple’s headquarters.

But not everyone is convinced.

The attempt to streamline the check-in process isn’t new. Some hotel chains introduced check-in kiosks in their busiest hotels, but to mixed results. They found that many travellers just ignored them, preferring to speak to a real person.

Leisure travellers, more so than the business travellers, tend to look for a personal welcome to their hotel experience. If it’s a planned trip away, or a special occasion, the guest will want to interact with staff to try for an upgrade, or request a room with a view for example. And if they don’t know the area, they’ll have more questions than most – which will be far quicker answered by a person than an app.

‘Ease and convenience’ also means less to the older traveller, who won’t necessarily be as au fait with the technology on their phone.

The potential danger

Although Starwood Hotels sees the virtual keys as a key guest attraction method, particularly for regular travellers, the opposite could also prove to be true.

Given how competitive the hospitality industry is, one of the only ways that establishments can genuinely differentiate themselves is through their customer service and brand experience. If guests are bypassing the opportunities to experience those – won’t the hotel just become faceless, and the same as everyone else?

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. There is no shortage of hotels offering the ability to check-in online, in the same way as you would before boarding an airline. Those guests then go to a different check-in desk to pick up their key, presumably avoiding the queues at the main check-in desk. Then guests get to experience convenience and customer service.

Whatever the answer is, you can expect smartphones to truly live up to their name in the next few years.

Smartphone technology is already the biggest news in access control since biometrics

From an access point of view, smartphone technology is poised to take over from physical items like ID cards or access key fobs/tokens. And it’s going to happen soon.

You can already use your phone to prove your identity to open the car park barriers at work, enter your office and gain access to a festival or event. Its success is obvious: it makes sense to use the one thing that the overwhelming majority of people always carry with them.

What do you think about checking into your hotel via an app? Would you use it? We’d love to know what you think.

 

 

 

Branded hotel key cards from just 18p per card

Before you re-order blank hotel key cards for the summer, take The Card Network’s price challenge 

Branded hotel key cards
Which make a better impression on guests: branded hotel key cards or generic ones?

Hotel key cards are a great branding and promotional tool, yet many hotels, guesthouses and luxury B&B’s still default to ordering blank cards because they think that personalised cards will be too expensive.

At The Card Network, we believe we can print double-sided branded hotel key cards for around the same price you’re currently paying for generic, off-the-shelf ones.

Which means your hotel key cards could be acting as a mini-billboard in your guests’ pockets, and maximising the value of their visit.

A branded card will always make a greater impression on a guest than one than is clearly off-the-shelf. But they can also do much more than just open doors. You could use them to:

–       Advertise a specific promotion within your restaurant

–       Promote an upgrade offer

–       Promote your spa or leisure facilities

–       Raise awareness of a sister establishment or partner

–       Offer discounts off their next booking within a specific timeframe

Or just use them as a branding opportunity and push out your key messages.

Some accommodation providers choose to advertise a nearby attraction through a partnership deal, and have the partner pay for the production of the hotel key cards.

Our hotel key cards start from just 18p a card. How does that compare to what you’re paying now?

Why not put our claim to the test and check out our prices.

 

Should boutique hotels offer loyalty cards?

It’s a question that’s currently being debated by some of the industry’s leading figures on BoutiqueHotelier.com. Are boutique hotels missing out if they don’t offer guests loyalty cards and reward them for their custom? Or should the guest experience alone be enough to secure repeat bookings?

The argument for

Hotel loyalty card
Loyalty cards can be the reason a guest chooses you over a competitor hotel

A number of well-known boutique hoteliers are in favour of introducing some kind of loyalty cards or programme. Tom Rowntree of IHG talks of the benefits of ‘brand reassurance’:

“The power that a brand can deliver is that we can take away the risk of staying at different hotels because we come in with a brand reassurance. Then of course there all the programmes we plug into, such as the IHG Rewards Club loyalty programme, so there are loyal guests that want a risk-free stay and they’re rewarded for it.”

James Lohan, CEO of Mr & Mrs Smith, believes their loyalty scheme is important for securing bookings. It offers money-back on future bookings or a gift, as well as 24-hour support from a booking team. He views these ‘a nice thing to offer guests.’

The argument against

Some hotels feel that they shouldn’t need loyalty cards and a specific loyalty programme to incentivise guests to choose their establishment. The argument is that the guest experience should stand out on its own, without needing to be propped up by the promise of points or rewards on loyalty cards. This is admirable as a sentiment, and is a great brand promise for all staff to live up to. But what happens if a competitor nearby is offering just as good customer service, but with incentives of free room upgrades or spa vouchers?

Make the stay personal to the guest’, is the view of others, including Gary Davis, CEO of Malmaison Group. Rather than offering points, reward the guest with something that you know they like. It’s hard to find fault with the concept, just as long as the mechanism is in place to flag when a guest is classed as a regular customer. Miss the opportunity to reward and you may just find that they have gone off to try a competitor hotel.

One thing is clear – loyalty cards can’t secure bookings on their own

Of course, loyalty cards and programmes will only be effective if everything else is right. It doesn’t matter how many rewards you offer if customer service is poor, your prices don’t stack up or the beds aren’t comfortable. However if you’ve invested heavily in creating a boutique hotel experience to be proud of, a good loyalty cards scheme can help you to secure repeat bookings with minimal investment.

Read more of the debate here

 

Printed plastic cards: check your proof!

If you’re about to order hundreds or even thousands of printed plastic cards, like membership cards or promotional cards, it always pays to see an actual example of the card first, before you hit ‘print’.

Except that you shouldn’t … pay any extra to see one, that is.

Peace of mind that you’re getting what you think you are

The last thing you want is to order 3,000 colour club cards only to find that they’re not as thick as you thought they’d be, or the print isn’t as bright as you wanted. The only way to check the end product is to actually see an example of one of the final printed plastic cards. And we mean your final card, with your design elements and information.

Many plastic card suppliers will send you an example of ‘one they made earlier’ for someone else, in order to avoid the expense of creating a press proof*. Whilst that’s great in terms of showing the thickness, it won’t show you how this card will look with your information on it. Insist on them printing one of your cards for you to approve, and they’ll often hit you with a one-off press charge – often up to £50.

It’s also fairly standard practice to send you a pdf proof to approve on email – just a pdf sheet showing the artwork on paper. This is far from fool proof – how can you sign it off when you have no idea how the final card will look?

We’ll provide a sample of your final card – for no extra cost

We want you to be 100% happy with the printed plastic cards you order. The only way we can do that is to provide you with a sample of exactly how your card will look before we print them.

So if you order membership cards, promotional cards, discount cards, loyalty cards, key tags, hotel key cards, custom printed cloakroom tags, plastic business cards or any other bespoke printed plastic cards – we’ll send you a press proof to approve. Which allows you to sign off the order in confidence, because you know exactly how the final product will look.

To us, it’s just sensible. Which is why we don’t charge any extra for the service.

Some cynics out there say we hide it in the cost of the printed plastic cards. But we don’t – our prices remain some of the lowest on the web.

Search our printed plastic cards.

 

*Just what is a press proof anyway?

A press proof is a card that’s generated right off the printer press. Or in other words, a sample card that’s printed with all of your information on it, so you can see what the finished article will look like.

Do hotel key cards contain my personal data?

Custom printed hotel key card
Hotel key cards aren’t clever enough to retain financial information

Do a bit of research on this and you’ll find wildly conflicting answers.

There’s a school of people out there who believe that hotel key cards must contain personal information including credit card numbers and details. How else could the hotel ‘charge’ items to the right room during your stay?

It’s turned into a bit of a myth.

We have a friend who had a friend who knew someone that had their bank details stolen from a discarded hotel key card.’

But it’s exactly that: a myth.

– For a start, the information contained on a hotel key card is encrypted. Even if you were able to break the code (which you’d have to be a tech geek to achieve), the only information you’d find would be the date you checked in and out. Not exactly useful data for an identity thief.

– Also, the magnetic stripe on hotel key cards just isn’t that clever. It simply can’t hold detailed information like credit card details. It doesn’t hold information for all that long either – if you’ve stayed in a hotel for more than a few nights, you’ll probably have experienced the ‘card doesn’t work any more’ scenario.

– There is no need for them to hold financial information. As long as the card identifies you and your room, the hotel can add the charges to your bill.

So don’t feel you have to destroy your hotel key cards the next time you’re checking out.

And the next time you’re told about someone having their bank details stolen from a key card, tell them it’s an urban myth.

Hotel key cards: a price challenge

Still using generic hotel key cards?

If so, we have a challenge for you.

We believe we can print branded, personalised hotel key cards for around the same price you are currently paying for off-the-shelf ones.

Branded hotel key card
Which key cards would you prefer – branded or generic ones?

Why not put that claim to the test and check out our prices.

Why use branded hotel key cards?

Your hotel key card is one of the most effective advertising tools you have. They’re a great way to maximise the value of each guest visit, by raising awareness of your restaurant, spa and other hotel services, for example.

You can also use them as a mini billboard, promoting an upgrade offer, offering an incentive for a further booking or advertising a special lunch or dinner offer.

Or you could just use them as a branding opportunity, and push out key brand messages.

However you decide to use them, your cards could be doing much more for you than just opening doors.

See how The Quay Hotel in North Wales uses their personalised hotel key cards as a promotional tool.

Our branded hotel key cards start from just 21p a card. How does that compare with what you’re paying now?

Search our hotel key cards.

 

Using hotel key cards to drive more business: The Quay Hotel

Branded otel key cards
Turn your key cards into a branding tool

If you’re still using generic hotel key cards, you’re missing a fantastic promotional opportunity.

How one hotel is using key cards to their advantage 

The Card Network has been supplying branded hotel key cards to The Quay Hotel & Spa in Deganwy, North Wales since 2010.

The Quay Hotel is a luxury hotel and spa in a fantastic location, with views over the Conwy Estuary and within easy reach of Snowdonia National Park. The hotel also has a creative approach to marketing, using their hotel key cards to cross-promote offers at their restaurants, bar, spa and leisure club.

Using hotel key cards as a mini advertising campaign 

Over the last three years, we have helped the Quay Hotel to get maximum benefit from their hotel key cards, to drive repeat bookings and encourage more guest spending.

On our first order of branded hotel key cards, we asked them: ‘Why don’t you include a discount or offer on the back?’

Since then, we have created a number of different cards to tie in with seasonal offers and promotions. Some cards raise awareness of the other facilities available within the hotel, for example gym memberships, spa packages and restaurant offers; whereas others offer a specific discount off their next booking.

The Quay Hotel recognised the value to be gained from cross-selling to the most receptive and engaged audience they have: their current guests.

 

We now also print branded membership cards for their leisure club, offering discounts on accommodation, food and different types of memberships.

What could you do with your hotel key cards

1. Offer discounts off their next booking within a specific timeframe

2. Advertise an upgrade offer

3. Promote a deal or offer in the restaurant, spa or leisure club

4. Raise awareness of a sister establishment

5. Agree a discount with a nearby attraction, on production of the card

Hotel key cards can do much more than just open doors: they can open wallets too.

 

Are you prepared for hotel conference season?

Hotel conference registration
Speed up registration and increase security at the same time

If you’ve got a large conference or exclusive event coming up, you’ll be immersed in planning. Branding, access and security are likely to be just some of your priorities. It might help to ask yourself the following:

–    Have you made the most of the branding opportunities?

–    How are you going to badge attendees and ensure a smooth ‘check-in’ process?

–    How will grant the people access to the right areas of the conference – and keep others out?

Branding and security work hand-in-hand

Consistency of branding makes a great impression. If you have a theme and a brand for the conference, you’ll probably have applied it across everything from the welcome programme to the exhibition stands and menus.

Have you considered your name badges?

One of the first touch points with your brand is at arrival. If you’ve gone to a huge effort to brand your conference, don’t miss your name badges out. Include your logo and other conference details onto a personalised plastic card which could them be attached to a custom designed lanyard.

Rather than a simple name badge, provide a photo ID card instead – this aids security and identification and helps with introductions and recognition between attendees.

You can either have ID cards printed ahead of the conference by asking attendees to send over photographs, or print them on the day with a plastic card printer.

Increase security through customised access control cards

Giving access control cards to your attendees is a great way of granting access to the conference (and making sure other hotel guests don’t wander in for example), whilst still allowing freedom of movement.

You can also program access control cards to grant access rights for specific areas; so everyone can access the main conference room, but only certain people can access the VIP area.

Access control cards can also:

–    Have promotional or reminder messages printed on them, with event details or function information on for example

–    Act as cashless vending cards or store spending information.

Also ensure that you have enough access control cards and hotel key cards in stock to meet the rush of guests and attendees: the best laid plans will go to the wall if the cupboards are bare.

 

Love your promotional cards this Valentine’s

Valentine's day
Spread the love to customers through promotional cards

Love might be in the air, but are your Valentine’s offers front of mind? Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the two days of the year that any restaurant or hotel should be fully booked. But the reality of our current economic climate means it’s no longer a given – establishments are having to go further to attract customers through special Valentine’s offers, promoted in new and different ways.

Build a beautiful relationship with your customers

Advertising your offer on the back of your hotel key cards is a great way to entice guests back – with their other halves – for a Valentine’s stay or meal. Or you could print some promotional cards that are mailed out to your database, and given to diners with their bill or visitors to your spa. Printing bespoke plastic cards is an inexpensive way to impress your audience, especially when you compare the cost to taking out an advert in the local paper or local website. For example, we can print 500 full colour, double sided promotional cards from just £129.

Longer shelf life

A plastic card has a higher perceived value than a paper leaflet, and is much less likely to be thrown away. It isn’t a ‘one hit wonder’ like an advert. Even if it doesn’t get used for Valentine’s Day, the promotional card will sit in your customer’s wallet as a reminder for the next time they’re considering a meal or a night away.

Make them part of an integrated campaign

The best way to achieve success for any promotion is not to rely on one marketing channel. So as well as printing some promotional cards, look at other ways to reach your audience. Send an email out to your database. Get your offers all over your social media. Look for local websites and online directories you can advertise in at low cost. Seek local PR coverage. If you’ve got lots of seats or rooms to fill and time is running out, consider offering a discount on a site like Groupon or Living Social. Spreading the ‘love’ over multiple channels is far more likely to result in a full restaurant or hotel, and a healthy balance sheet.