IN THE FIELD WITH DAVID ESSERYK -Part 9 / Hotel Check-in and Check-out

Are Smartphones the Key to the Hotel Check-In Debate?

David Esseryk, the Accor Group’s Vice-President Guest Technology is in charge of guest-facing technology for all brands. This edition of his regular report looks at how we might speed up the check in and check out process.

Regardless of the place or the tradition of service, we have opted to go online for banking, shopping and even shipping packages. Today, the great debate in the hospitality industry is how to speed up the “check-in” and “check-out” process and whether that can be managed through an app or a kiosk. We have looked at kiosks and there are mixed reviews. Every traveller is slightly different and the flexibility to make changes at a kiosk is limited compared to what can be handled by the front desk staff. These devices are also expensive and the upgrades needed to keep up with the competition offer many challenges. Perhaps someday the check-in process can be streamlined by an app that interfaces with a scanner and verifies the guest’s identity, allowing them check-in with an eWallet before they arrive at the hotel. Maybe the key and welcome packet will be waiting for the guest at the front desk and all they have to do is provide the clerk with their registration code. Frankly, smartphone apps provide a great opportunity with tremendous potential. Apps are here to stay and they will continue to grow both in numbers and sophistication because they give consumers instant access to information, and they are a new way for businesses to market their products.

Smartphone apps provide a great opportunity with tremendous potential.

SKIPPING THE FRONT DESK

Holiday Inn recently piloted a real world application of OpenWays at two hotels, the hospitality industry’s first mobile-based front desk bypass solution. Guests choose whether they want to go right to their hotel room upon arrival by using their cell phone to open the door or check-in at the front desk and get a standard room key. At Hilton group, some guests will be able to use their smartphones as keys from this year on. In partnership with VingCard Elsafe, Aloft’s Smart Check-In, the hotel industry’s first such program, is based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

CONCLUSION

We understand that guests today come from a business and lifestyle that demands things be simple, efficient and ubiquitous with no training needed. The winners in our industry will be those who instead of improving things as they go, proactively and effectively test new technologies to determine if they offer an innovative, useful solution for our guests before they are rolled out to hotels globally.