In the race to make every element more functional and friendly, hotels are giving their check-in desks the boot, preferring to station front-desk personnel at lobby “pods” or stations with multiple computers, similar to what is found at retail stores.
Impregnable front desk areas were created in order to provide more security for cash transactions, which have become increasingly rare. Some hotels, taking the tip from airline counters and movie theaters, have installed automated check-in stations where guests simply slide a credit card across the reader and are supplied with parking vouchers, room keys and a transaction receipt.
While automation may be handy when bypassing a long line, it’s impractical when guests need keys remagnetized in the middle of the night or want help selecting an evening activity. Hence, the pod: a small desk allowing workers to interact with guests in the lobby in a casual way.
Pods are becoming standard in Embassy Suites, Hyatt and Westin hotels, with more chains such as Wyndham and Marriott adding them to properties as they renovate. Targeted to 20- and 30-something travelers who are used to casual business transactions, pods also diversify the ways hotels utilize front desk workers. Now that staff are no longer tied to a desk, they are expected to multi-task: greet guests at the door, assume concierge duties, even do minor lobby clean-ups.
Though helpful to the bottom line, employee productivity and creating a communal atmosphere, pods fail to make the one major improvement travelers really want — quicker check-ins.
Source: USA Today