You may remember in a previous post, that I was talking about how hotels needs to start using technology in their properties for the benefit of guests, to speed up or improve current processes. In the UK, Premier Inn have by far optimised technology the fastest, introducing self-check in services at some of their properties, which especially work well with their budget business model. Of course, this also helps their running costs, removing the need to numerous check-in staff in busy city centre hotels and enables guests to retrieve their reservation and be issued with a key card and invoice. However, other than this example, you struggle to see good examples in the UK of technology being utilised by hotels.
I was interested to read that Aloft, part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts, have introduced a “Smart Check-In” service to it’s brand, starting off with four properties in the United States. It’s a very simple process, but perfect to avoid lengthy check-in queues, or for those times where you simpy, want to go to your room as quickly as possible and relax.
So how does it work?
On the day of your arrival at any participating Aloft hotel, you will be sent a message to your mobile device with your room number. When you arrive you can bypass the front desk and proceed directly to your room where you can just touch and hold your Aloft brand SPG card to the door lock and the door will unlock. Any costs incurred during your stay will be charged to the credit card used to book the original reservation.
“With your Aloft brand SPG card, you will be able to take advantage of one of the easiest and fastest check-in experiences ever offered in the hotel industry. You will no longer need to check in at the front desk or kiosk when you arrive, but still enjoy full access to the front desk throughout your stay”.
I really like this idea – very simple and a very streamlined process. When you think about our processes in the hotel indsutry, we are still very old fashioned in our approach and traditional in our method. In particular, if I make a booking with a hotel chain that I am a loyalty member of, that hotel chain already have all the information they need about me. Name, address, contact details, past booking information – I’ve also either pre-paid the booking, or used my credit card to guarantee the reservation, depending on the channel used to make the booking. So in theory, I do not need to fill in a form at the front desk, as I have to on every single occasion I stay in hotels.
Hotels need to ensure they are moving with the times and not only making the best use of technology, but providing guests with options outside of the usual norm – options they are already experiencing (and have been for some time) in other travel sectors. Airlines particularly lead the way with online check-in, self-service check in and bag drops at airports and mobile enabled boarding passes.
It will be interesting to see how this trial goes and if Starwood Hotels & Resorts spread this to their other brands in the future.