ONE of the key challenges faced by hotel front desk managers such as Bay Hotel Singapore's Nigel Vsandh, is dealing with the negative feedback that frequently arises when a large number of guests arrive at a hotel all at once.
"The first impression is always very important. After a long flight in, if a guest enters the hotel lobby only to find a queue for check-in and another long wait, naturally he's going to be upset," says Mr Vsandh.
Some hotels tackle this by lengthening their check-in hours, but that was not feasible for Bay Hotel. Instead, the hotel chose to make use of the now ubiquitous mobile phone.
"Since most guests would carry one these days, why not get them to check in via the phone before they even reach the hotel?" Mr Vsandh says.
They wouldn't even need a smartphone, as all the mobile phone check-in system requires is for the guest to reply to the hotel's prompt via text message.
That then alerts the front desk staff, who are able to prepare the necessary documentation, key-cards, and other materials ahead of time.
Bay Hotel believes it is the first in Singapore to adopt such a check-in system and Mr Vsandh says that the hotel has been able to shave its check-in time from the usual 10 minutes down to one to two minutes.
That is, for the half of its guests who have been making use of the system. Business guests under corporate bookings tend to check in on their phones most consistently and make up about 40 per cent of all guests.
But take-up from tourists has also been climbing. About 10 per cent of the hotel's guests - leisure travellers - now check in via phone before they arrive at the hotel.