Happy Flip Flop Friday from the Baldpate!
Today, I bring you thoughts of warmer, sunnier places as we look at hotel keys and their evolution throughout the years.
During my time in the Key Room, visitors have commented on our hotel key collections, especially the Epperson’s collection of keys from their travels as a married couple. These keys in particular were donated in October 2006 by their son, Peter Epperson, after both John and Stella passed away.
Before the invention of the plastic key cards in 1975, hotels operated using metal keys (a practice the Baldpate still uses today) with plastic key tags displaying the name of the hotel, room number and a certified stamp guaranteeing postage if returned. Because changing locks was expensive and required a lot of work, if someone found a lost key, or forgot to return their key at check out - all they had to do was drop the key in a mailbox and it would be returned to the hotel.
When the plastic key came about, it operated through different combinations of thirty-two holes in the card. Later the holes were replaced with a magnetic strip. These quickly became the most popular form of key in the hotel industry around the world today. With every new guest, key cards are reprogrammed to include information like the guest’s name and room number. Another advantage of key cards is they usually deactivate after checkout, eliminating the need to track down lost keys.
One of the most recent innovations in key cards is the RFID (radio frequency identification) card. As the name suggests, this type of key card uses a specific radio frequency instead of a magnetic strip to open locks. This type does not have to be swiped like the magnetic strip key cards, so it is held in front of the lock instead.
Like I said, The Baldpate, as a tribute to its Key Room and commitment to tradition continues to use metal keys for its rooms.