Thursday, December 18, 2008

Idea: Your Credit Card is Your Room Key

Hotel chains such as Extended Stay America have limited check-in hours. They save money by eliminating the need for a third shift. This is a great idea because they pass on some of those savings to the customers. Unfortunately, this also means that a late arrival can leave you out in the cold.

I believe that these businesses could benefit from an automated check-in process that allows you to gain entry to the hotel and room using the same credit card you used to make the reservation. This would allow the hotel to continue to operate without a third shift clerk, yet a guest could still check-in.

The biggest problem that I see with this would be that problems often happen during check-in. Automated systems often require babysitters for when problems occur. The management would have to implement a way for customers to receive help for problems at check-in without undue burden on employees who don't work third shift, including management itself. It's a case where the biggest problem is managing customer expectations.

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