Hotels are changing the way guests check in to their rooms, eliminating the traditional stop at the front desk to speed up, simplify and, in some cases, personalize the process. In the age of social networking, it’s more important than ever to get the guests’ experience right.
The hospitality industry is moving toward more automated check-in systems, said Tyler Craig, vice president and general manager for the NCR Corporation’s travel business, which develops these systems for hotels. “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,” Mr. Craig said. “No one wants to wait in line for the front desk anymore.”
In the age of social networking, Mr. Craig added, “it’s more important than ever to get the guests’ experience right,” because an upset customer posting to Twitter, Facebook or TripAdvisor can easily share bad impressions with a wide group of people.
Glenn Haussman, editor of the online trade magazine Hotel Interactive, said automated check-in was also a plus for hoteliers who wanted to assign additional duties to the front desk staff. “When a guest checks in late at night and the same employee can make sure the check-in goes smoothly and also sell them something to eat,” he said, “the hotel has saved money on staffing, increased its revenue and increased customer satisfaction.”
Mr. Craig said he expected automated hotel check-in 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 and types in the number of keys needed. The machine assigns a room and spits out the plastic key cards, and the guest can head upstairs.
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