The diminishing front desk

The hospitality industry, always perceived as a laggard, has been quick (in recent times) with adopting technologies that improve business efficiencies and empower customers! Newsobserver reports on the disappearing front desk in hotels in the triangle area and the appearance of information desks or pods to facilitate check-ins and check-outs by guests. The advantages of the new system include freeing the front desk staff to focus on real customer service – walking guests to their rooms or showing them around. While automated check-in has its appeal, it will be interesting to watch its adoption rate by babyboomers and interactive-kiosk-wary guests. Also, unlike airlines and banks, hotels are about hospitality first and making guests feel welcome often involves that extra bit of hand-holding. Most guests make their first impression about a new hotel or service from their front-desk experience – hotels adopting automated check-ins had better make sure they have tech-support round the clock! Examples abound of kiosks that lie gathering dust for a variety of reasons including mechanical breakdowns. At the very high end of the market, kiosks likely never will replace front desk personnel and at best will supplement it.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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