January 26, 2004

Hotel Check In

Starwood kiosks debut, make check-in a breeze

01-26-2004 --

Last week's Starwood World Conference at the Phoenix Civic Plaza was the international resort group's launch pad for a new technology that officials hope will create a more convenient and pleasurable experience for travelers.

The conference was a worldwide gathering of Starwood employees, representing such brands as Sheraton, Westin and W to showcase the latest and greatest in everything from bedding to massage techniques and new resort technology. It was estimated by event organizers to have a $4 million economic impact and fill up more than 10,000 local room nights.

About 2,500 employees from 84 countries attended the show Jan. 14-15, and one of the highlights was the debut of Starwood's self-service electronic kiosks. The kiosks were rolled out not only at the show, but now are being used locally on a test basis at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has 11 properties in Maricopa County and Tucson and employs more than 3,000 residents in the state.

While the technology behind the self-service kiosks is not the out-of-this-world type, it is a technology that has significantly transformed one industry and soon may drastically change another.

The kiosks are similar in size and function to those used at airports for travelers to check in for airline travel. Those have proven to be a big success on a wide scale, particularly with business travelers.

The Starwood kiosks are designed to do the same thing as airline kiosks, with a major emphasis put on customer convenience and speedy service. If a reservation has been made, a guest can be checked into or out of a hotel in less than a minute.

The kiosk contains a credit card swiper and touch-screen computer monitor where guests can navigate through a series of steps to check fully into or out of their rooms.

A receipt and room card key is released from the machine, and the traveler is on their way without ever stopping at the counter to check in.

The desire to lessen the stresses of the business traveler is at the heart of what Starwood is trying to accomplish with the kiosks.

"The check-in after a long trip can be very frustrating," said Carl Cohen, vice president of Starwood's property technology business. "This is something that will enhance the travel experience."

Rod Mano, senior director of broadband business for Starwood, said the company has done a good deal of guest surveys on check-in procedures, and the most common complaint was that it took too long.

"These kiosks connect up to our whole back-end registration system, so they are very easy to use," he said. "We've been getting great feedback."

As of now, a pair of test units at the Westin Kierland and Sheraton Wild Horse Pass allow only for check in and check out, but when a larger roll-out happens throughout 2004 and into 2005, the units will offer more.

"We're about to add a feature where you can select a specific room or change your room altogether," Cohen said. "First you will only be able to change to rooms with the same rate, but eventually you will be able to upgrade."
Source: The Business Journal

KioskCom Industry News

Posted by Craig at January 26, 2004 05:05 PM