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Future Of Hotel Check-in Desks

By Expert Author: Steve Robinson

Frequent travelers, knowledgeable in finding cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages are sometimes frustrated by the long lines they face when waiting to check-in at hotels at their destinations.

In a move that may ultimately result in front desks becoming obsolete, Marriott Hotels has introduced a virtual mobile check-in service whose purpose is to reduce guests wait times when first arriving at a hotel and cater to the “invisible” guest.

After downloading the Marriott Mobile app, guests can check-in via their smartphones as early as 4 pm the day prior to their scheduled arrival. They will then receive digital notification when their room is ready.

Similar to baggage drop off desks for passengers who have checked in online for their flights, Marriott guests can bypass the traditional front desk and use a designated mobile check-in counter, have their key card sent to their smartphones, and proceed straight to their rooms upon arrival.

Marriott’s mobile check-in service is currently available at 329 Marriott properties in the US and Canada. Plans are for it to be rolled out to 15 other countries including China, India, Mexico, the UK and the United Arab Emirates by late November.

The Bay Hotel Singapore claims to be the first property in Asia to implement a mobile check-in service when it was introduced in 2012. Check-in at this hotel takes as little as 30 seconds from the time a guest enters the front door of the hotel and is greeted by a dedicated staff member who asks guests to provide their signatures on an iPad and then presents their key cards.

InterContinental Hotels Group has coined the phrase “Invisible Traveler” to describe guests who want to be entirely self sufficient and enjoy “entirely independent, human free travel experiences.” To that end, mobile and virtual services which minimize contact with hotel staff are being launched by this chain.

The luxury hotel chain “Four Seasons” launched a “Pin.Pack.Go” service in August that brings the concierge service onto Pinterest. Users are asked to create a “board” for their trip, and then are able to add information about their destination such as the type of travel experience (family vacation, romantic getaway, or cultural visit) they desire. The Four Seasons hotel then offers personalized travel recommendations and local insider tips.

Hotel guests are given 24 carat gold plated iPads that serve as their personal virtual concierge which they can use to access guest services, housekeeping, restaurant menus at the luxury hotel the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
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