Here's a story from Contactless News about a new system which eliminates room keys and the need to stop by the front desk for check-in. Room keys are replaced by an access code transmitted to your cell phone which is then used at the guest room door to gain entry. Apparently, a few hotels in Europe are trying it out with some success.
I think the benefits are obvious, especially for business travelers. The majority of the road warrior class has always wanted maximum efficiency with minimum contact...to be more productive. Bypassing the check-in line has been goal number one for years with the development of check-in kiosks, express check-in envelopes, etc. But, until now, bypassing the registration step has never really been achieved...you still had to stop somewhere before going to your room.
Obviously, there are a variety of issues to contend with including security, data theft, room changes, etc. But, one of the biggest considerations is to be careful not to push this system onto people who don't want it. Luxury, most leisure and even some business travelers don't necessarily want to cut-out the personal welcome. They just want to eliminate the process...standing in a line to talk to the top of a clerk's head. The challenge is to somehow find a means which accomplishes a personalized arrival without all of the "processes". Try eliminating the front desk as a first step. I know that sounds a bit radical, but so did issuing keys through cell phones not that long ago. I believe the vast majority of people don't want to wait in line, go to a counter or watch people enter information into a computer...no matter if it's business or pleasure. The cell phone idea is a big step in the right direction. But, it still leaves us with a problem...handling all the arriving guests who enjoy talking with someone, shaking hands and being greeted with a smile.