Sunday, March 11, 2007

RFID-equipped bracelets combine cashless payments and location services

It’s a win-win for hotels if they make it easier for guests to charge food, merchandise, and services to their already-established room folio. An integrated solution that employs radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to simplify transactions property-wide also provides a bonus to families—the ability to locate and communicate with each other, even in a large property or resort.

Bracelets equipped with RFID technology allow everyone in the family—parents and children—to purchase food and services at any point of sale (POS) throughout the hotel property, all without using cash or a credit card. The bracelets, and the solution that connects them, are integrated with both the hotel’s POS system as well as its property management system (PMS). This integration allows guests to charge items to their guest room folio through secure, simple transactions.

Business benefits

The bracelets, equipped with both passive and active RFID devices, are provided to each family member when they check in. The passive RFID devices give family members a cashless way to charge food, beverages, gift shop purchases, and attraction tickets to the guest room.

Security-enhanced transactions

Because there is no guest-specific information on the bracelets, they provide a security-enhanced transaction method without requiring children, for example, to remember a room number or security personal identification number (PIN). Unlike a stored value card, the bracelets can only be used to charge to a specific room folio. Multiple bracelets can be attached to one room folio, and parents can establish daily spending limits for each bracelet.

Location services

The bracelets’ active RFID devices provide location services by interacting with RFID readers strategically located throughout the resort property. These kiosks are tied into information kiosks, also placed throughout the resort. “The RFID device is constantly sending out an ‘I’m here’ signal to readers throughout the venue, so parents can find out if their children are on one side of the water park or the other, in the hotel lobby or the restaurant,” says Tim Giraldin, executive vice president and founder of Guest Technologies, which offers the bracelets and the solution tying them to the hotel’s POS and PMS.

The bracelets identify individual guests to both the POS terminals and information kiosks. The kiosks feature an interface that displays a property map showing people’s locations and is simple enough to be used by children. Hotels have the option to use fixed kiosks as well as mobile devices, and the location service may even be extended to the guest room television, according to Giraldin.


“Parents can also leave messages via the kiosks, so the solution not only provides them with peace of mind, it enhances communications,” Giraldin adds. Messages can be “picked up” at kiosks, or, if guests register their own Web-enabled devices, messages can be delivered directly to these personal devices.

Giraldin’s company has already deployed the bracelet technology in a water park resort, and he sees potential applications throughout the hospitality industry. “We’re doing things within the cruising industry because the ships are essentially floating resorts,” he notes. “There are also applications at theme parks and sports arenas because the solution provides a simplified, single-source transaction.

“It’s like Microsoft’s vision for the back of the house, where all the different systems ‘talk’ together,” Giraldin adds. “We translate this to the consumer in the front of the house. The bracelets attach people as a group, especially if they need to find someone. And kids are more likely to keep a bracelet as opposed to a room key card.”

Integration technology

Integration of the RFID bracelets with both a hotel’s POS and its PMS are accomplished through Microsoft BizTalk Server, as well as integration software services from Theodatus. “At hotels, the disparate systems that don’t talk to each other cause pain points for solutions like ours, or any type of application that can be used to better the guest experience,” says Giraldin. “Using BizTalk allows us to get in among these different applications more easily and smoothly—even between applications that are competitors.”

Partner information

The following Microsoft partners can be contacted for more information on this solution.

Guest Technologies is the premier provider of software solutions that create an exceptional guest experience in a wide variety of hospitality environments, including hotel resorts, cruise ships, ski resorts, theme parks, and shopping malls.

Theodatus, LLC, is an independent software vendor (ISV) and technology solutions provider to the hospitality and gaming industry that uses Microsoft technology to achieve system-independent and information sharing.