It’s been done the same way many decades now…. To check in, the guest still has to find the hotels front desk, a LARGE desk, sometimes wait in-line, fill in a registration card, sign it, and then wait for a few minutes, while the receptionist is studying a large computer to check the guest into her or his room, during which time there is little interaction between the guest and the receptionist. When there is no interaction, there is no connection and a missed opportunity to get closer to the guest. With the rise of the tablet in both the consumer and enterprise world…. can hoteliers change the hotel check in (or out) experience?
Hotel brands are finally working on new ways and design for guests to check in and out. Some hotels have no front desk, others have small Pods, or only offer self service stations for guests to do the check in.
Tablets have been around for 6 years now…and yet there is still no sign of hotel staff using them in the hotel lobby. The tablet presents a unique opportunity for hotels to untether their staff away from the front desk, connect with the guest and provide a more 2-way paperless check-in experience, rather than process. So why are hotels slow in embracing the technology?
Besides carpet, guest amenities and people, hotel owners have to make a substantial investment in a hotel property management system (or PMS) to manage the hotel operation. Considered the “heart” of the hotel, the PMS enables all other hotel systems to work together, handling the guest room inventory as well as consolidating all guest charges. As a PMS implementation can cost $50k to $150k+, it is difficult to get a hotel owner to replace it just to enable “front desk free check in”. What to do?
While existing PMS vendors are just beginning to offer tablet solutions, most of them are still taking a very transactional approach, meaning they have simply moved their complex desktop screens onto the tablet. This is not really re-thinking what it would mean if there would be a joined check-in experience between both the guest and the receptionist. As a result those “quick tablet solutions” still require the receptionist to handle all screen transactions by him/herself, limiting engagement opportunities.
There are (very) few vendors that have made it their focus to provide a new and unique check-in experience…one that engages both the guest and receptionists with a very simple consumer-grade touch user interface. Rather than a “transaction” whereby the receptionist continues to look at a screen, the tablet is used to enable the guest to review the registration card or see what upgrades are available, all guided by the hotel receptionist. This has the potential to create a “pleasant service experience” rather than a boring “transaction”.
If a tablet solution is developed well, it will be able to connect to a hotel’s legacy PMS, integrate with the door lock system, and feature a cloud-based architecture, all meaning there is no need to replace the PMS and no need for up front hardware investments.
So, Hoteliers…wander around, service your guest, whenever, wherever!
By Jos Schaap, CEO- Founder at StayNTouch, Inc.