Monday November 10, 2003

The ever-growing list of redundant job titles may yet claim another prized scalp - the receptionist. With Qantas already trialing automated check-ins in Australia, the latest news is that hotels in America are now testing a similar kiosk design.

The 1,215-room Sheraton Boston Hotel and the 509-room W New York in Times Square are the focus of the trial by Starwood Hotels. A "self-service kiosk" is located in each of the hotels' lobbies that allows guests to check-in and out by swiping their credit card. Using this facility, check-in takes less than 45 seconds as compared to several minutes if you had to visit the front desk.

During check-in the kiosk pulls up the guest reservation after a credit card is swiped and confirms the reservation, issues keys and a receipt and informs the guest of his or her room rate and room number. Upon check-out, the guest swipes his or her credit card, the kiosk pulls up the guest folio, the guest confirms that all the information on the folio is accurate, the kiosk prints out the guest folio and the guest has the option to have the folio e-mailed to him/her in a .PDF (read-only) format.

The check-in receipt also has space for customised messaging to the hotels customer management team and future plans will enable guests to change their room assignments using the kiosks.