One of the largest hotel chains in the world, Hilton Worldwide, has announced a major digitization of its client services that will allow guests to check in and choose their exact room on their portable devices, not unlike the modern airport check-in process -- a move that could further reduce the importance of the front desk.
The new strategy is designed to give guests more control over their stay, says the chain. But the move is also poised to take the middle man -- the front desk personnel -- out of the hotel experience, especially when the chain introduces smartphone-enabled door keys next year.
Because like the airport check-in process, once they've booked a reservation, guests will be able to check in and shop for their room on their mobile phone via photos and a digital floor plan.
Upgrades and amenities can also be requested on their portable devices.
"Travellers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms," said Hilton Worldwide CEO Christopher J. Nassetta in a statement.
"We have spent the past few years testing a number of different options to make this vision a reality, and we are developing proprietary technology that is safe and reliable for our guests to use, and cost-effective for our hotels to install."
In 2015, the company will also begin rolling out mobile technology that will allow guests to unlock their doors with their smartphones. Until then, door keys will be waiting at the front desk.
Guests will no longer need to check out as well, as their bill will be sent automatically to their email address.
Last year, Marriott Hotels also launched a virtual mobile check-in service that allows guests who've downloaded the Marriott Mobile app to check in a day before their arrival, bypass the lines at the front desk and proceed straight to their room after picking up their key at a designated mobile check-in counter.
Mobile and virtual services like these which minimize contact with staff are being launched to cater to what the InterContinental Hotels Group calls the "Invisible Traveler," guests who want to be entirely self-sufficient and who enjoy "entirely independent, human-free travel experiences," most notably Millennials.