Topics in This Guide

Hotels and other hospitality properties use access control systems, or electronic door locks, to control security throughout a property. In the last few years, several innovative features have been introduced that older access control systems do not have.

Access control projects may be one-off type projects, or part of a new construction/total refurb being done during a property build or overhaul.

Selecting the right access control solution for your property will deliver benefits to you immediately while future proofing your investment to reduce costs in the future.

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Access Control Systems in Hospitality

Hospitality access controlThe most important purpose of a hotel’s security system is to provide a convenient, comfortable, safe, and secure experience for guests throughout their stay.

Hoteliers have long recognized the benefits of access control systems. These electronic, wire free and keyless systems provide a secure solution to manage all entry points throughout a property, not only for individual guest rooms but also for offices, external gates, business centers, fitness rooms, parking areas, etc. To maximize security, entry through every door should be controlled from one system.

Upgrading to an advanced system will provide a differentiated experience for guests and give hoteliers a competitive advantage.

Evolution of Keys

Although electronic card access systems for hotels have existed for decades, there have been major enhancements in how the systems work.

Pre-electronic lock era: physical lock and key was the technological extent of access control systems in place before the first electronic door locks.

Electronic locks introduced the connection of the door lock to an access control system, allowing for keys to be issued and removed without having to replace the locking mechanism.

Electronic locks rapidly expanded, leveraging a variety of different authentication methods such as mag-stripe cards, biometric reads, and digital keys (RFID, NFC, BLE, etc.).

Electronic locks are moving to the cloud for centralized management and monitoring with opportunities for mobile app solutions and the use of app-free digital keys.

Hospitality Categories for Access Control

Premium access controlAccess control solutions can provide an unprecedented level of efficiency to many campus environments including:

  • Business hotels
  • Economy hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Resorts
  • Boutique hotels
  • Motels
  • Hostels
  • Convention centers
  • Apartment buildings
  • Condominiums
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Universities

Evaluating Access Control Systems

Chances are you already have one or more access control systems in place at your property. In fact, that may be one of the issues you are dealing with. Large and multi-site properties may suffer from a lack of access control standardization across all sites.

It can be challenging for hotel operators to manage multiple access control systems from different manufacturers across multiple locations. What's worse is that the existing access control systems in place may not cover all access points at a property; for example, external gates may be controlled separately.

Another frequent issue is integrations that were working at the time of initial implementation but are no longer working. When first installed, your access control system may have been successfully integrated with the PMS; but somewhere along the way it stopped working properly.

When upgrading existing access control systems, there are ways to reuse parts to decrease the overall cost of the project.

How should you evaluate digital door locks?

If your current entry system and its processes have created a less-than-ideal experience for your guests, and you are considering upgrading to a modern access control system, there are several questions you should ask when evaluating hotel access control systems.

1. Have you had any recent breaches in security that have affected your business?

Security breaches can take many forms. In addition to the headline-grabbing incidents of ransomware attacks and phishing scams, hotels can suffer from lost and misplaced keys occurring accidentally as well as when a disgruntled employee quits.

2. What has been the cost of lost keys in the last year?

If a card is reported lost, you should be able to disable that card from being used to access the property. If someone tries to use a disabled card, they should be denied access. By leveraging digital keys, hotels can further reduce the cost of all keys by enabling staff and guests to use their smartphones as a key.

3. What visibility do you have of the people who use your site?

At any given time, you should be able to see exactly who is on the property and exactly where they are. When staff work assignments change, you should be able to modify their access to the property based on schedules. Likewise, you should be able to modify guests' access when their check-in and check-out dates change, without the need for manual rekeying.

4. What percentage of your doors can you control electronically?

Ideally, you should be able to control all access points with real-time, two-way encrypted communication between wireless locks and a software platform managed by hotel staff.

5. How long does it take to change individual access rights?

Time spent on operations means less time your staff can interact with guests. Your staff should be able to change access points, dates of access, and room assignments seamlessly for guests.

6. Does your current system enable you to perform audit trails?

Your system should keep a log for each lock not only for security reasons but also to facilitate maintenance. Changes made within the software should also be logged, down to the user level.

7. Does your hotel access control system support the aesthetics of your property?

The design and quality of your door locks and methods of access should complement and enhance your property, not detract from it. Access should be secure and seamless for guests. Like your hotel, access points should be beautiful, not clunky.

8. Is your access control system integrated with any other contactless technologies?

You should be able to control all access and guest management needs with one wire-free, easy-to-use system. To optimize the guest experience, the hotel door lock technology in place should enable guests to move seamlessly from the hotel lobby to the elevators, guest rooms, fitness center, swimming pool, spa, and any other amenities on the property in a wire-free environment.

9. How easily can you add new access points or users to your system? What are the costs associated with doing so?

Changes to a system can impact the effectiveness of daily operations including guest room turnover. You should be able to easily add and delete new users (staff and guests) from the system. Electronic keys should be managed online and changes to guest check-in and check-out dates should be handled readily.

10. How easy is it to integrate your existing access control system with other systems?

Ideally you should be able to connect your building's access control system with other third-party systems for property management, point-of-sale, CCTV, parking, license plate recognition, biometrics, fire alarm, and physical security information management systems.

Advantages of Access Control Systems

Although you may think of the door locks as part of the embedded costs in a new build or major renovation of a property, a modern access control system can provide a competitive advantage for your property.

New standards in security, manageability, and scalability can be achieved with advanced hotel door locks. Touch-free electronic access control systems are wire-free and keyless, and available in a variety of designs, colors, and finishes to complement any property’s style and door type.

Access control design choices

 

Safety & Security

In today’s environment where smartphones are prevalent and guests are concerned about health and safety, electronic access control systems enable guests to use digital keys on their smartphones instead of physical keys for touchless unlocking.

Property owners can manage all access points at a property from one central location. You can also connect third-party systems such as video surveillance with the access control system for completely integrated security.

With a modern access control system, you can track who’s getting in and out at every access point. Your guests gain peace of mind knowing there is a digital trail of who has entered their room.

You can control which back-of-house areas staff members can enter and even restrict entrance based on work schedules. If theft occurs from the liquor storage room located back of house, you can review the audit trail to see who went into the room.

Safety and security features of physical access control systems include:

  • Touchless access controlTouchless unlocking — Guests and staff can unlock doors and other access points with their mobile devices as they approach a door or entrance.
  • No apps — Unlike earlier generation systems, modern access control systems do not require guests to download an app (which many guests are not willing to do). Instead, a simple link is sent via text message (SMS) and the guest can open the digital key directly in their browser.
  • Elevator dispatch — Using their digital key, guests can call an elevator to their floor when they are ready to leave their room. Likewise, when entering the lobby, guests can enter an elevator to go directly to their floor, without touching any elevator buttons.
  • On-door check-in — Guests can completely skip the front desk check-in process, and instead go directly to their guest room door to use the lock to check in.
  • Centralized management of access points — Staff can centrally manage all access points from back-of-house to the front desk, and open doors located anywhere on the property, without physically going to the lock's location.
  • Antimicrobial covers — Additional protection can be provided for all visitors to a property with antimicrobial covers installed on door handles.

 

Access controlStaff Productivity

When you can modify an employee’s access quickly and without re-distributing hotel key cards, you increase productivity. A centralized system for access control enables operators to turn on or turn off access for any given entry point without the need to go to the door where the lock is.

By reviewing historical data, you can measure the time employees spend at different activities; for example, how long it takes to clean a guest room.

 

Comprehensive Management

Resorts and other large properties can leverage the unique management features of today's access control systems, including:

  • Cloud based multi-tenancy — Staff can centrally manage all access points across all locations, and remotely lock or unlock doors anywhere in the world.
  • Membership administration — Membership level groups can be created to seamlessly manage access to amenities such as parking facilities, pools. spas, and executive lounges across all locations.
  • VIP guest notification — Staff can be alerted when a VIP guest has entered the property.
  • Proactive maintenance — To prevent lock outages that can take a guest room out of service, staff is alerted to physical issues that should be corrected such as low batteries in a lock.

 

Backup & Disaster Recovery

For disaster recovery purposes, you can restore from the cloud, keeping the access control system operating in the event of a disaster, which is critical to the function of a hotel. Backups can be done to the local server so restoration can be achieved quickly when needed.

Video: Today's Access Control Benefits

Features in Access Control Systems

Minimum functions of an access control system include:

  • Protecting the building from unauthorized access that can pose a risk to people's physical security and their possessions
  • Making sure the building meets statutory responsibilities, including compliance to fire, health, and safety codes
  • Providing user access at varying levels

Today's modern access control systems have capabilities far beyond required minimums. By investing in a fully-featured access control system, hoteliers can ensure a positive guest experience that will attract new customers and repeat business. Other hotel systems can be integrated with the access control system to make business operations more efficient. Plus, components are field upgradable for seamless adoption of future technologies to maximize the value of your investment.

Additional features include:

  • Communication
    Wire free, read/write, networked locks that communicate with a central database
  • Design
    Upgradable locks and software to protect against obsolescence
  • Security 
    Granular management of access privileges including cancellation of lost keys
  • Accessibility
    Remote access to monitor your systems anytime day or night
  • Environmental
    Energy saving device options to control energy use in unoccupied rooms
  • Mobile 
    Bluetooth enabled options for control via smartphone apps
  • Connection 
    Seamless integration with other systems including CCTV, parking, license plate recognition, biometrics, fire alarm, and physical security information management systems
  • Digital keys  
    Guests receive digital keys on their mobile devices via email or text message, without downloading any app
  • Cloud based multi-tenancy 
    Large properties with multiple sites can centrally manage all access points across all locations
  • Touchless unlocking 
    Guests can unlock the door from several feet away
  • Remote unlocking 
    Staff can remotely lock and unlock doors
  • On door check in 
    Guests can skip the front desk check in process and go directly to their guest room door to check in
  • Elevator dispatch 
    Elevator calls from mobile digital keys to avoid touching elevator buttons
  • WristbandsSanitary  
    Touchless unlocking operation and antimicrobial covers protect staff and guests
  • Growth 
    Scalable to thousands of doors and thousands of users
  • Key card options 
    Battery free, waterproof keys as well as fobs, wristbands, other wearables

How Access Control Systems Work

Access control

Cloud based multi tenancyCloud Based Multi Tenancy

Properties with multiple sites can control access across all locations with centralized cloud management. Membership level groups can be created so guests don't need separate temporary key cards when visiting other locations. For example, Gold member guests can access the same amenities at multiple properties seamlessly.

Access can be managed across all properties in the cloud and can also be managed at an individual location. In the event of service termination or employment termination, a person's access can be turned off immediately to all properties being managed.

Impact of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers an opportunity for hoteliers to reduce costs, provide more conveniences for guests, and increase profits.

 

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.

 

IoT Applications in Hospitality

Within the hospitality market, examples of potential IoT devices abound in individual guest rooms as well as front of house and back of house areas.

  • Door locks
  • Thermostats
  • Lights
  • Window coverings
  • Mini-bars
  • In-room safes
  • Water valves
  • Surveillance cameras

and more.

Access control integration

 

Integration Starts with Access Control

The key to leveraging the “connect-ness” of systems is through a property’s electronic access control system — the door locks.

The reason access control is critical to the successful integration of all your IoT devices is that this is the only system you can use to definitively determine when a room or space is occupied or not. (Motion detectors are not sufficient because people can sometimes be still.)

If you can integrate access control with your other systems, you can increase profitability and improve the guest experience.

Access control integration

 

A Strong Wireless Infrastructure is Required

Today’s modern access control systems have the capability to be integrated with all the different systems throughout your property. You can integrate your access control system with your energy management system (temperature control), automated window treatments, televisions, water shutoff valves, and a host of other systems. This is achieved through a strong wireless infrastructure.

We wanted to enhance the wireless infrastructure of our very expansive beachfront property. Good, strong Wi-Fi is a critical amenity to our guests, both for personal and business use. We found the Corserva team to be attentive to our needs and dedicated to delivering on promises. I highly recommend Corserva.

Robb Russman

Chief Engineer, Cheeca Lodge & Spa

Testimonial

• Technologies That Enable Integration

The technologies that enable the connection of multiple systems include:

  • Wireless networkBLE (Bluetooth low energy)
  • NFC ( Near Field Communication)
  • RFID (radio-frequency identification)
  • Zigbee

• Saving Money Through Decreased Energy Costs

Properties that have implemented the modern platforms that support these technologies can integrate their systems to decrease operating expenses dramatically, while also enhancing the guest experience.

A significant operating expense that property owners must deal with are the energy costs associated with running a hotel, such as those for heating, cooling, lighting, and water. What’s worse is that guests may leave these systems operating, even when they are not in their room – a complete waste of energy.

You can leverage the wireless capabilities of access control systems to turn off or down systems within a guest room when the room is unoccupied, thus saving you money.

How to Achieve Energy Savings

Access control offers opportunities for integration to improve the guest experience and reduce costs for the hotelier. The following use cases are examples of integration that can be achieved with a modern access control system.

  • As a guest enters a room, the room comes to life automatically — the lights turn on, the temperature adjusts to a comfortable setting, and the window drapes open.
  • As a guest leaves the room, lights are turned off and any faucets left running are automatically turned off.

Utility expenses can be high in any building. Next to the labor costs associated with running a hotel, the operating expenses are the largest expenses in hospitality. You can integrate access control with other systems such as thermostats and lights to turn down systems automatically.

Integrated energy managementWhen systems are left running in vacant or unoccupied guest rooms, expenses are driven up. At the same time, it is critical to the guest experience that people be able to run the systems for heating, cooling, water, lighting, and television as much as they want. Technology enables us to integrate these systems with the access control system in a hotel so that systems left running in unoccupied rooms are turned off or turned down.

When you integrate the energy management system with the access control system, you gain these benefits:

  • Reduce energy costs 20 – 45%
  • Connect energy management with additional systems including lights and window coverings
  • Leverage detailed analytics to achieve optimal temperature setbacks
  • Proactively repair and maintain HVAC equipment within guest rooms to prevent loss of revenue

 

Real World Example

We know that, according to industry standards in hospitality, guest rooms are unoccupied, on average, 50% of the time.

Consider the use of electricity to understand the types of cost savings we could potentially realize.

It's estimated that US hotels consume an average of 14 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per square foot annually. On average, hotel rooms are 330 square feet.

So, each room uses 4,620 kWh annually.

By implementing technology derived energy saving measures that know when a guest room is unoccupied or unsold, you can expect to reduce energy consumption 20–45%.

  • At the low end of savings potential (20%), 924 kWh is saved per hotel room.
  • At the high end (45%), 2,079 kWh is saved.

The costs of electricity vary by state. For example, in the US as of October 2020, Nevada offers the lowest pricing for commercial electricity at 4.59 cents per kWh while Hawaii comes in at the highest in the US at 27.56 cents per kWh.

Some locations, such as the Bahamas, are even higher (37.40 cents per kWh in 2015).

With this information, we can calculate expected savings in electricity costs due to technology advances.

 

20% reduction in energy

45% reduction in energy

Nevada

$4,241.16

$9,542.61

Florida

$8,334.48

$18,752.58

Connecticut

$15,800.40

$35,550.90

Hawaii

$25,465.44

$57,297.24

Bahamas

$34,557.60

$77,754.60

 

savings per 100 rooms

savings per 100 rooms

 

Process Changes are Not Enough

Property managers may be familiar with the idea of implementing staff process changes to reduce energy costs. For example, staff can be trained to close window treatments in unoccupied areas (in warm climates) or to adjust temperature controls down (in cold climates). While process changes can provide some value, they are not sufficient to realize the magnitude of energy savings we are describing here.

Access Control is the Trigger

Access control provides the trigger for the other systems in a room. When a guest enters the guest room, the systems in the room turn on and when the guest exits, the systems turn off. For example:

  • When a guest enters, the lights turn on, the temperature is adjusted to a comfortable setting, and the television turns on at a low volume.
  • When a guest exits, the lights turn off, the temperature is adjusted to a lower temperature (in cold climates) or a higher temperature (in warm climates), and the television turns off.

The hotelier can customize a delay upon room exit of 1 minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or something else before the systems adjust automatically.

Improving the Guest Experience

If all the systems within a guest room can be controlled from one point, this provides exceptional convenience to the guest.

Imagine a guest lying in bed and being able to control all the systems within the room from the television remote or a smartphone.

Instead of the guest having to adjust the temperature, lights, and television to their preference each time they enter their room, these settings can be saved and resume upon re-entry by that guest. These customized settings can even be saved for frequent travelers so that when they return to a property at a future date, the systems remember the guest’s preferences.

Smart TVs

Hoteliers can configure groups of settings for typical use cases such as:

  • Daytime use – The window treatments open and all the lights turn off.
  • Nighttime use – The window treatments close and all the lights turn on.
  • Watching television – The window treatments close and the overhead lights dim.

All this functionality starts with access control. By upgrading to an advanced electronic physical system for access, you gain the ability to integrate your other systems, even future systems you may not currently have.

 

Wireless Infrastructure & Location Based Services

A strong wireless infrastructure is the backbone of guest enhancing features such as location-based services. Plus, enterprise quality WiFi is important to today's guests.

Wireless technologies that can be implemented include indoor wayfinding applications, mobile check-in, and proximity-aware push notifications that enable you to promote areas of your property.

With this technology, guests can turn on systems within their room before they enter the room. Beaconing technology can enable systems in a guest room to automatically turn on as the guest approaches. Hoteliers can send location-based offers to guests that alert them to onsite services as well as turn-by-turn directions to restaurants, entertainment, and shopping.

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Integrating Access Control with Systems

In addition to energy management systems. the access control system can be integrated with other systems on the property to enhance the guest experience and increase profits. Common integrations include the Property Management System (PMS) and Point of Sale (POS) systems. These types of integrations can increase sales.

For example, with POS systems you get:

  • All-in-one solutions as well as customized packages that include stands, cash drawers, receipt printers, bar-code scanners, and payment terminals
  • Tablet based mobile solutions with lock down features
  • Modern forms of payment supported, including NFC and EMV

By integrating POS systems with the access control system within a property, visitors can use smartphones and wearables to pay for services wherever they are.

POS integration

Corserva's Technology Concept Center

Corserva has built a Technology Concept Center in our Orlando, Florida office. By visiting the Concept Center, you can see for yourself the types of experiences you can deliver to your guests with technology, as well as the cost saving advantages.

  • As you enter the demo room that has been configured as a hotel guest room, the room comes to life. The lights turn on in a timed sequence. The headboard lights and then the overhead lights turn on slowly in a welcoming manner. The curtains open.
  • You can select different modes for the room. For example, in TV mode, the blinds close, the overhead lights drop down to 40%, and area lights turn off automatically.
  • When you exit the room, the temperature adjusts to maximize energy savings and all the lights turn off. If any water faucets were left running, those are turned off as well.

The fully integrated lock sends status messages to the centralized system. Not only does it know whether someone has entered or exited a room, it knows specifically who it is. If multiple attempts are made and fail to open a door, that information is reported as well as other maintenance information such as when batteries in a lock need to be replaced.

Video: Real World Integrations

How to Evaluate Access Control Providers

Selecting a technology provider is an important decision. The right choice will enable you to maximize your investment and accomplish your business goals. The wrong choice can fill you with regrets.

Now more than ever, guest expectations are significantly ahead of the technical capabilities of many properties. Hotels and resorts that invest in innovative technologies can increase revenue, improve guest loyalty, and reduce operating expenses.

24x7x365 Tech Support

Unlike other businesses, hospitality companies are typically busier during non-traditional business hours. Weekend visitors will not be happy if guest-impacting systems can’t be fixed until Monday morning — after the guest has checked out.

That's why you should use a provider that can give you 24x7x365 technical support.

We needed an access control solution that included not only our guest room doors but also outside entry gates. Throughout the project, the team at Corserva has provided fast service and great support to get things done.

Alex Carius

General Manager, Regal Palms

Testimonial

Skills and Experience

In depth, specialized knowledge is a critical requirement. Frequently, a problem is not the result of a single system but rather a combination of factors resulting from the multiple systems in place at a property.

You need a provider with the skills to not only install and support access control systems, but also to understand how the installation of your access control system will impact what’s already in place. This is even more true when multiple systems have been integrated to work together.

Nothing can be more frustrating for you than to deal with the resulting finger pointing.

You should choose a provider that takes responsibility for resolving all IT issues, no matter the cause.

Past Performance

You will want to select a provider that has decades of experience; most importantly, relevant experience serving hospitality companies. The provider should be able to give you a referenceable client list.

How Much Does an Access Control System Cost?

There are several factors that can influence the costs of an access control project, such as:

  • Design choices of locks
  • Options to retrofit existing mortise locks
  • Types of doors already in place
  • Key cards used with hotel locks and whether they are using proprietary technology or are un-encrypted

To learn more, request a quote from Corserva.

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We needed a strong partner for access control systems across several demanding hospitality projects. The personal service we received from the Corserva project management team during implementation was exceptional. The Corserva team stayed on budget, met project deadlines, and exceeded all expectations. I highly recommend partnering with the Corserva team.

Seth Cenac

VP Hospitality Development, Sorbis

Testimonial

Next Steps

Questions to Consider

When considering an access control project, ask yourself:

  • What is your timeframe?
  • What is your budget?
  • What features are you looking for?
  • Do you have any unique requirements at your property?
  • What types of existing access control systems do you have, and how old are these systems?
  • As part of an access control project, are you planning to replace existing doors?

It’s important that you work with an integrator such as Corserva that can help you select the appropriate access control components for your needs and integrate everything for you.

Our existing electronic locks had been damaged from saltwater intrusion following Hurricane Irma. Corserva quickly responded to the situation and provided impeccable customer service that made the lock replacement project go very smoothly. Corserva worked very closely with us as the locks were replaced during a period of very high guest occupancy. The new locks and access control system are working very well.

Bob Bauersachs

General Manager, Tranquility Bay Beachfront Hotel & Resort

Testimonial

Future Proof Your Investment

By investing in a robust electronic access control system, you can start reducing your operating costs immediately. Once you have a future-proof system for access control, you can then integrate your energy management, as well as other systems such as in-room control systems and in-room lighting to decrease operating expenses. Moving forward, you will have the capacity to integrate other systems you may not even have today.

Corserva can install and maintain solutions for best-in-class enterprise WiFi and beacon-enabled location services. Along with access control, we can monitor your wireless infrastructure and keep your network secure.

In addition to integrating and selling hotel technology solutions, Corserva maintains these solutions to take the burden off the hotelier. As a Corserva client, property managers have a single point of contact for any technology issues. No more trying to pinpoint the source of the issue or figure out who to call.

We found a great partner in Corserva. Their team was available when we needed, worked hard, and were very responsive during the installation of our access control system.

John Estabrook

Director of Security, The Lenox Hotel

Testimonial

Premium Access Control Solutions

Corserva has the experience to install and manage access control deployment projects for single location boutique hotels as well as large multi-location hotel corporations. We provide and support electronic access control solutions from a variety of world-class manufacturers. We can design you a customized access control solution and even integrate it with other systems, such as energy management, to further decrease operating costs.

As an integrator, Corserva provides flawless project execution that won't disrupt your business operations. We staff our own engineers, project managers, and technicians. You can rest assured our employees will perform their duties professionally when on-site at your property.

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Unlike other proprietary solutions, Corserva can integrate systems from multiple hotel lock vendors of your choosing. We can help you select the best products for your business applications and deliver an integrated solution for you.

Corserva has a 30+ history deploying technology projects. Because Corserva is an IT company instead of a lock manufacturer, we provide full IT lifecycle support including pre-sales, installation, implementation, and support. After the initial deployment, ongoing monitoring and maintenance is available 24x7x365 from Corserva's US based technical service centers.

As an integrator, Corserva performs PMS integrations and API integrations for energy management, workflow management (MUR, DND), and smart room integrations.

With Premium Access Control solutions from Corserva, you gain a competitive advantage over other properties.

When you choose Corserva to install and manage your IT systems, you have only one vendor to contact when issues arise. Instead of dealing with multiple vendors and multiple contacts, we can offer you a managed service package that covers all your technology needs.

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