Check-in to the Future
By Erin Hoover Vice President of Design, Westin Hotels & Resorts and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts | June 02, 2013
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, let's consider a few milestones in hotel history that are influencing the sweeping changes now occurring in all areas of the hotel experience, especially in the lobby.
With the recent and continued enhancements in technology, hotels are increasingly able to personalize the guest experience through the design of the lobby space.
- 1958 - Sheraton launches "Reservatron," the hotel industry's first automatic electronic reservations system.
- 1978 - Deregulation of airline industry leads to airline loyalty programs, hotels initially are partners with airlines, but soon launch their own loyalty programs for guests.
- 1983 - Ving introduces the electronic key card - in the same year, Westin is the first hotel brand where guests can make a reservation and check out with a major credit card.
- 1985 - Sheraton is the first international hotel chain to operate a hotel in the People's Republic of China.
- 1994 - Promus and Hyatt Hotels are the first to launch sites on the Internet.
The magnetic strip and the Internet are just two of the factors that are changing the physical space of the hotel lobby and the check in experience. We've all seen the shift as the massive check in counter dating from the 19th century shrinks to become pods, and in some cases, pods have become kiosks. What does this mean for the guest experience of the lobby and check in? There are several macro trends that will drive what happens to the lobby and check in from both an experiential and a spatial point of view:
The ability to create a database started back in the 1950s with the introduction of automated reservation systems. Hotels suddenly had more information about their guests, which allowed them to start to personalize and target services, based upon guest preferences. Now, through social media, the transfer of basic information has become a dialogue. Hotels have even more opportunities to further differentiate themselves by personalizing experiences that used to be one size fits all, like check in. But more about that later…