Hotel : feel protected in Hotel Rooms
Interview with Christian Perdomo, CEO of ARCARIUS
Security within a hotel, especially in one’s room, is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of one’s stay. We all have the need to feel protected, and the presence of a safe contributes to this. It is also a way to feel as safe as you would at home so that you can take full advantage of your room and achieve peace of mind where your personal belongings are concerned. Perhaps no one will actually come to steal, break, or move things around in your room, but knowing you can trust your safe, in the worst-case scenario, helps to create a sense of calm. You can put an item of value or an essential item that you do not want to display or that you wish to protect. There are plenty of reasons for using a safe.
When I was designing ORIGINE, the hotel room of the future, I spent a great deal of time researching numerous innovative products. I wanted to show that it was possible to bring a sense of naturalness to every element of the room, including the safe. That was how I met Christian Perdomo, founder of ARCARIUS which creates custom-designed safes. He joined us as one of the partners in designing this room.
With modern wireless technology and the standards of bank security, the ARCARIUS collection innovates and reinvents the concept of hotel safes. For the ORIGINE room, ARCARIUS created a safe that conformed to strict environmental regulations. All the wood-based pieces are recyclable, made from certified wood, and have been produced in Europe to reduce its carbon footprint. The aluminum that went into the piece is 100% recyclable, and its electronic consumption was reduced to a minimum.
Laurent Delporte: What do you think about security in luxury hotels? Is it important? What is your philosophy in general about security in hotels?
Christian Perdomo: I think it’s a real problem at the moment because security is growing more important every day and luxury hotels especially have to take care of it. What they don’t understand now is that the market is changing. We have all these millennials, we have these new hotel brands cropping up every day, we have Airbnb; we have all this competition, and luxury hotels have to offer something different. We have to offer them a new experience. We have to offer them better security. The customer must feel that they are as secure as they are at home.
That’s why we developed this new line of safes for security within luxury hotels – because their guests are people who are bringing luxury items; with their most precious jewelry, watches, other valuable items—it doesn’t have to be an item that is of a large value of money, but personal objects. They cannot put these inside a metal box that is cold dark and impersonal to the customer. As long as you take care of the customers, you have to take care of their belongings.
The hotel has to offer customers real safety boxes, not amenities. And unfortunately, that is what they have at the moment. It is like a kind of amenity, like a shampoo. I think in many cases the shampoo is more expensive than the safe! Instead, luxury establishments should offer something that is at the level of the customer.
Not only in terms of how secure the safe is, but also in ease and pleasure of use. We have developed this product with a security level where nobody has the master-code, there is no master-key. The customer alone can access this safe with a biometric system. We have made a very easy-to-use interface, not only for hotel employees who may need to access it, but especially for clients. Our goal was also to contribute to making the hotel room a nicer place by offering a thoughtful piece of furniture, through design, the logo, and the product itself. On top of that, the security is better, and we offer a great security level of proof-certified VdS, where the insurance policies are much better.
The safe is the temple of your most valued belongings. If you come with your 20,000 € watch and you throw it in a tin, you might have second thoughts about leaving it there. I imagine the guest saying, “Come on, do I really feel confident leaving the watch inside? No way.” The guest might end up taking it with them, or arranging alternative security or leaving it with a friend – but these concerns are inconvenience to the hotel guest.
If you’re going to a nice hotel, a super-luxury hotel, and you are unable to take your jewelry or your watch, then you cannot enjoy your stay to the full. Perhaps you may want to have a lunch in, say, Restaurant Jules Verne, and you want to take your nice watch. But later you want to go for a walk, but then you’re afraid and you’d say, “OK, I want to leave it inside the hotel. But come on, do I trust that safe? No way.”
LD: What is so innovative about your product? What differentiates you from other safe producers?
CP: Our innovation is three-dimensional. We have been in the business for more than 30 years. When I was working with my family business, I found that whenever we talked to a hotel director and proposed our safes, they would reply, “Ok, send me a quote.” They didn’t even ask about the safe or its software or how it worked. Why? Because the misconception is that all the safes are the same. There came a moment when we realized we were competing with Chinese manufacturers, and that we had hotels buying safes for cheaper than anything else in the room. The cheapest item in the room is sometimes the safe, cheaper even than the amenities. It makes no sense. There was something that was not working. The safe is not a zeitgeist product. There had to be a revolution.
So we thought, “How can we revolutionize safe design? Well, with the design, it has to be a complete revolution along with the software because we know all the problems to control the safe because the environment, the atmosphere of the hotel is very different. There are many people in the hotel. So we had to make a very protective software; a type of closed software whereby the customer is protected and the hotel is also protected. We developed the software so that the hotel would have no problems in terms of responsibility with the product, so they would avoid direct involvement in the security of the safe – because that can often be a point of conflict with the customer. It is not the first time that I’ve been to a hotel and they’ve said, “The customer is missing 200 Euros. It is not inside the safe.” And they say: “It must be someone in the hotel.” Unfortunately, such crimes are near-impossible to solve because who knows the master-code? Everybody. Who has the master-key? Everybody. Who has the keypad to open the safe? Three different hands go up… And now, what are they going to do? This causes stress for the customer. And this scenario has played out many times. Our system has been developed to protect against that, so there is no possibility that the hotel is responsible. It is a software that guarantees the integrity of the safe.
Our safes offer the capability to connect to iPhones in order to control the safe, but it is nor for opening the safe. Opening the safe with a telephone is too dangerous. We have an application developed where every time you open the safe, you receive a message on your phone. We have a very secure platform. The biometric system is in order to check the identity of the guest, in case he forgets the code or in case someone has to open the safe. We need the authorization of the customer through the biometric signature.
We have a special software designed to guarantee the integrity of the safe. It is a very easy system. There is a knob, like you might find on old safes, but it’s not so complicated; it’s just a knob with lights. We decided to remove all the keypads because they’re already in the market and they tend to be confusing to use. The knob is very easy; we’re all used to them, since they‘re common systems in our cars, radios, etc. Our knob is very easy to use and very nice because with it, you can hear reassuring, the mechanic “clack-clack” sound. They can see the high-quality German engineering and Italian design. We thought through all the details of the safe in order to encourage people to enjoy the product.
LD: Can you explain the customization of the safe? How do you choose the materials? And how do you integrate sustainable development into your product?
CP: We have a design department in Italy. We have three main lines of designs. All these basic designs can be adapted to the design of the room, depending on the material. We use wood, leather, velvet, fabrics, and we can even engrave wood. There are millions of possibilities. With the interior designer of the hotel, we can make beautiful combinations to integrate the safe because the idea is to make the safe also a part of the design of the room, not something we have to hide. Because for many years, safes have been hidden in a false sense of security, which I say because everybody now knows that safes are always inside the cupboard, so now technically, there is even more security because nobody expects the safe to be outside the cupboard. And also, I have had many experiences in hotels where safes are placed low on the ground. This means elderly people have to crouch down to open their safe, and they could have problems with their back. And I thought, the customer experience could be improved here. “Come on, you want to use a safe. Put it somewhere people can go and enjoy it and put their belongings in an area with some light.”
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.