Self Service in Up-scale

By Abigail A. Lorden, Editor-in-Chief | October 08, 2010

About two years ago, I was on a business trip and Murphy's Law was in full effect. Monster traffic en route to the airport, followed by long lines at security, followed by delays on the tarmac. When I finally arrived at my hotel, I gave up: another monstrous line at check-in.

And then I spotted my savior: a self-service check-in kiosk glowing like a bastion of hope, the St. Christopher to weary travelers. There was still a line at the kiosk, but not as long, and I was relieved to have the option. When I tired to retrieve my reservation, however, it returned this message: "Reservation not found." I'm not sure how long I stood there in disbelief before joining the back of the line at registration.

The hiccup, I was told, was because my reservation was under a group block and didn't show up under a normal name search. There was a room ready for me, but I was left wondering how such an oversight could occur in a technology with such great potential.

This anecdote is a few years old, and self-service technology has matured significantly since. I've used check-in kiosks many times since without a single snag. But it's potential scenarios like mine that have led Omni Hotels & Resorts to take a different approach to self-service check-in. Members of their loyalty program can check-in via their mobile phone, and an alert is sent to the hotel where associates confirm the reservation before the guest arrives. A welcome kit with a room key is ready for pick-up at a designated reception area, allowing the guest to bypass regular registration. If there's any issue with a reservation, hotel associates can address it before a guest arrives.

Omni's approach is a great example of how self service can migrate into environments that demand "high-touch," and also reminds us that self-service continues to expand. Now if only there was a solution to those airport delays.

For more insights from Abby, click here.

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