Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Check-ins of the future

I've had some interesting hotel check-in experiences. At the W Times Square in New York City, the lobby was not on the ground floor. Instead, I boarded an elevator just inside the ground-floor entrance, went to the seventh floor, and stepped out into a nightclub lounge. Tucked away off in a corner, I eventually found the front desk and checked in.

At the Omni Hotel in San Diego, I had barely stepped into the lobby when a waiting clerk greeted me and asked my name. Before I even reached the front desk, the clerk handed me a key and guided me to a nearby elevator. No lengthy credit card verification or reservation confirmation; just "welcome" and "here's your key."

While those check-in experiences impressed me, I would sure like to try checking in at an Andaz, Hyatt's answer to Starwood's hip W brand. At Andaz, you don't walk up to a check-in counter; you take a seat in a comfortable chair, and they come to you, checking you in via a handheld computer.

Of course, I look forward to the day when embedded chips in my luggage and wallet enable the following check-in scenario: I get out of the taxi and drop my bags at the entrance, where they'll be scanned and automatically routed to my room. As I walk through the entrance, a scanner reads the chip in my wallet and checks me in. I stroll to the elevator, where a scanner detects my chip, displays my room number on a screen, and takes me to my floor. When I reach my room, I wave my wallet against a card reader to open the door. Now that's a fancy check-in.

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