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OM in the News: Eliminating the Waiting Line at Hotel Check-In

March 23, 2013
Concierge registering guest at Andaz West Hollywood

Concierge registering guest at Andaz West Hollywood

Hotels are changing the way guests check in to their rooms, writes The New York Times ( March 19, 2013), eliminating the traditional stop at the front desk to speed up, simplify and personalize the process. When guests arrive at citizenM, a boutique European hotel chain, they check in at a kiosk and go straight up to their rooms. The kiosk was designed to be easy to use because most travelers are encountering it for the first time.

“The hospitality industry is moving toward more automated check-in systems,” says NCR’s VP for kiosk systems. “Customers are used to A.T.M.’s at the bank instead of tellers, checking in for airplane flights online, and they are now looking for that same efficiency when they arrive at a hotel. No one wants to wait in line for the front desk anymore”.

Automated hotel check-in is expected to expand rapidly. In a typical system, guests check in by computer or phone before they arrive and enter their expected arrival time, which helps the housekeeping staff with the room cleaning schedule. A bar code is sent to the traveler to print out or display on his or her phone. At the hotel, the guest scans the bar code at a kiosk. The machine assigns a room and spits out the number of plastic key cards requested, and the guest can head upstairs.

Hotels are also using new technologies to eliminate the front desk check-in line — with personal greeters who shepherd guests through the check-in process in a more comfortable setting. Andaz West Hollywood has combined its front desk staff, bellmen and concierge functions into “hosts,” who greet guests as they enter the lobby and sit with them on comfortable couches to check in using an iPad with a credit card reader.

This article is a nice complement to the Winter Park Hotel case study in Module D.

Discussion questions:

1. What is the benefit to hotels in implementing kiosk check-in?

2. Will these systems be widespread in a few years?

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