I was pretty blown away by this concept, which I ran into on MSNBC yesterday. It seems that the Los Angeles Andaz hotel and the Andaz in New York City have both gotten rid of the front desk. Instead, the hotel is greeting guests with a “host” bearin wine, a great chair and the chance to choose a room by laptop. The move, intended to be high-touch and personal, has played differently in both locations – welcomed in LA and not so much in Manhattan.
Yet, it could signal the next big trend in the hotel industry. The personal welcomes do focus more on the guest, and the thought of waiting in a comfy lobby chair instead of standing in line laden with baggage is pretty attractive. So far, Courtyard by Marriott has moved away from the front desk concept in 201 of its 800 lobbies in the United States, favoring “welcome pedestals” instead. By 2013, it hopes to complete the transition.
Changes are coming at other hotels, too, according to MSNBC:
Several thousand customers who already carried Starwood Preferred Guest cards were texted their room numbers before arriving at the Aloft Lexington in Massachusetts, allowing them to bypass the front desk and head to their floor. Once there, they simply tapped their preferred guest card on the door lock for room access. That pilot program is being expanded to Alofts in Harlem, Brooklyn, Jacksonville, Fla. and Brussels, Belgium.
James Sinclair, principal of OnSite Consulting, which focuses on the hospitality and restaurant industries, expects the front-desk concept to last another 36 months. In addition to appealing to many travelers, the move is expected to cut operating costs and give hotels a bit more breathing room follow a trying economic period.
[photo by prayitno via Flickr]