Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hotel Check-In Process

Many a times during my business travel, I have waited in line to check-in to my hotel room.  I have always thought that this is an area that needs improvement.  With mobile apps and today's technology, this whole operation can be automated, especially for regular registered guests.  This is a great opportunity waiting to be realized.

Several hotels have already started on this journey and trying to catch up with other industries.  Starwood properties has  already installed smart locks that can be unlocked using their mobile app.  That is one step forward.  Hilton is following suite.  Meanwhile, Marriott has an app for check-In, but you still have to get a physical key card from the front desk.

There are many aspects of travel that can be frustrating.  Especially for road warriors who travel often.  Time is of essence and we want to get what we want fast and move on.

Here are a few things (selective) that a road warrior would need online:
- Ability to check-In
- Ability to use cellphone as a key
- Ability to view available rooms (within the class of room booked)
- Ability to see pictures of the room
- Ability to choose a room from the available rooms
- Ability to be notified when the room is ready (for first occupancy or subsequent, after house keeping)
- Ability to order room service or other services
- Ability to contact concierge to get local information or a virtual concierge

These are a few things that come to my mind.  Of course, you may be thinking that I am anti-social and do not want to talk to people.  That is one of the main reasons I said these were selective.  I could choose to chat with the front desk while checking in (if they are free), or dash straight to my chosen room after a long red-eye flight.  I have been in many situations where I didn't get the information I was looking for or I had to wait in line to get serviced. 

Choice to the consumer is the future.  Given the available rooms, why can't I choose which room I want based on the information presented to me?  I have been in too many situations where I was assigned a room next to the elevator or the ice machine even though I had asked not to.  Empowering the consumer removes all these issues and gives the power to choose.

Hotels can not only reduce their operating costs, but can also make the experienced consumers really happy by implementing these optional services. 

Image courtesy: elitetraveler.com, Marriott