Could hotel check-in desks become extinct?

  • TECH
  • Monday, 09 Sep 2013

In yet another development in the hotel industry that could threaten to render front desks obsolete, Marriott Hotels has launched a virtual mobile check-in service that aims to shave guests precious minutes when they arrive at their hotel and cater to the ‘invisible’ traveller. 

Once they have downloaded the Marriott Mobile app, guests can use their smartphones to check in at 4pm the day before their arrival. They will also receive an automatic notification when their room is ready. 

Not unlike baggage drop-off desks for fliers who’ve checked in for their flight online, Marriott guests also bypass the traditional front desk and go to a designated mobile check-in counter, where they’ll find their key card and can proceed straight to their room. 

The multinational chain follows on the heels of other hotels like the Bay Hotel Singapore, which claimed to be the first property in Asia to implement a mobile check-in service when it launched last year. 

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a dedicated staff member, provide their signature on an iPad and are then presented with their key card — a process that can take as little as 30 seconds. 

Mobile and virtual services like these which minimize contact with staff are being launched to cater to what the InterContinental Hotels Group calls the “Invisible Traveler,” guests who want to be entirely self-sufficient and who enjoy “entirely independent, human-free travel experiences,” most notably Millennials. 

Last month, luxury hotel chain the Four Seasons also launched a ‘Pin.Pack.Go’ service that brings the concierge service onto Pinterest: After creating a board for their trip, users add information on their destination, the type of travel experience they’re looking for — family vacation, romantic getaway or cultural visit. 

The Four Seasons hotel in the destination city will then follow the user and send a request to collaborate on their board and then offer personalised travel recommendations and local insider tips. 

And over in Dubai, at the iconic, sail-shaped luxury hotel the Burj Al Arab, 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. 

Marriott’s mobile check-in service is available across 329 Marriott properties across the US and Canada (excluding Quebec) and will also roll out to 15 other countries including the UK, China, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and India by late November. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2013  

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