improving the process.

Hundreds of years ago, in an effort to streamline check-in at hotels and inns, managers developed a system called a “line.” And that’s about as good as it gets.

Early last year I had cause to observe check-in processes at several Las Vegas properties: Venetian, Palazzo, Imperial Palace, Flamingo, Bally’s and Harrah’s. Regardless of amenities and opulence (or lack thereof), all had a common thread at the reservations desk: you stand in line. You wait your turn. The end.

It didn’t matter if it was the posh Palazzo or budgeteers’ favorite Imperial Palace, you have to wait in what can be a long line until it’s your turn to check in.

During my 31 days of living on the Strip last year, I had plenty of time to ponder while waiting to check into my hotel room. Surely there’s got to be a better, faster, more efficient way to do this, isn’t there? After all, you can print boarding passes to get on a plane these days. Shouldn’t I be able to get into my room quicker?

During my most recent trip to Vegas I spied self check-in kiosks at the Flamingo. Nirvana! They sat unused while a line of arriving travelers snaked through the lobby. Perhaps they were too new, too hidden or too scary. Nevertheless, I’m a fan. Here are a few untested, unresearched ideas I had for innovation at the check-in counter:

Self Serve Kiosks. So many processes can be automated. Why not this one? Instead of three or four warm bodies behind the desk, how about a bank of 10 self-serve kiosks with one or two CSRs to monitor and assist where needed.

Concierge-Level Service. This is a bit of a reach and will require some examination. But imagine walking into your hotel lobby and being greeted by a host (similar to a restaurant) who is holding all your information on an iPad and personally walks you to an agent (or kiosk, if you will) or bellhop to get you to your room? Given the level of technology we use to book our trips, shouldn’t we be able to walk into the lobby and get our keys immediately? Seriously, why can’t we do this? What’s so cost prohibitive about it?

Take-A-Number, BMV Style. Not really an improvement, but better than standing in a line. Okay, not an improvement at all. Never mind.

Eliminate Check-Out. Right here, you save resources at the front desk. In my estimation, there is NO NEED EVER to physically check out at the front desk. Leave your keys in the room and you’ll either be billed in the mail or the charge will appear on the credit card you used to reserve the room. The end. Fortunately, most Strip hotels already do this.

Just a few errant thoughts on a hot, Sunday afternoon.

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