Friday, November 16, 2007

Kiosk replaces front desk in Amerstam's Qbic hotel

There's an interesting story that ran in The Denver Post about a hotel in Amsterdam that has eliminated their front desk altogether in favor of a self-service kiosk.

In theory, if the kiosk can actually handle all of the typical transactions that take place at a hotel's front desk, it might work out. Hotels can be tricky environments, though, and a faulty computer system or incomplete transaction could potentially mess up reservations and quickly lead to chaos on on crowded weekends or holidays (though of course an attendant could still be present during peak traffic times).

To avoid those types of issues, check-in kiosks are often implemented in hotels that are primarily aimed at people traveling on business, since their transactions tend to be straightforward, and the travelers quickly build up experience using the kiosks. They don't work so well (in my experience) in more touristy hotels where people are infrequent travelers, have complicated reservations, or are simply looking for that unique human interaction that comes at every turn while staying in another country. For that reason it's pretty interesting that Qbic has decided to go the route of ditching the front desk altogether.

One other possible concern is how older, less tech-savvy users would respond to the technology. Granted Qbic is billed as a state-of-the-art hotel, so guests are probably going to be of the variety comfortable interfacing with computers, but the issue of tech support is bound to come up anyway. A lot of the more common pitfalls can probably be avoided with lots of well written and easy-to-follow instructions on nearby signage.

If all else fails, though, a "roving concierge" is still around to assist customers.

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