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2013 Must-Have Hotel Amenity: Mobile Check-Ins

December 30, 2013 at 11:07 AM | by | Comments (0)

It's that time of year again: the 2013 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...

For the first time ever in the history of HotelChatter Awards, the Must-Have Amenity of the Year is something that's found outside of the guest rooms. We're talking about mobile check-ins. (Way back when, we used to call this Smartphone Check-Ins.)

Marriott Hotels really led the way in 2013 with mobile check-ins with their program of the same name for for Marriott Rewards members. They began testing it earlier in the year at 30 properties, then expanded it over the summer to 325 Mariott-branded properties in the U.S. and then just a few weeks ago, they announced it was going worldwide. Here's how it works:

1. Join Marriott Rewards
2. Check-in to your hotel at 4pm the day before your arrival, then the app will send you an automatic notification when the room is ready.
3. Arrive at the hotel and bypass the front desk by hitting up the "expedited mobile check-in desk" to pick up your room key.
4. Head up to your room and immediately start doing these things.

Marriott isn't the only hotel brand using this efficient new check-in. Omni Hotels have a mobile check-in option via their smartphone apps and Starwood Hotels has been ramping up their own Smart Check-In Program this year, having surpassed 10,000 users back in June. Here's how that program works:

We've seen smaller, independent hotels try out some expedited check-in services like kiosks as well as some seriously high-tech room keys but on the whole, the mobile check-in will probably be limited to the bigger hotel brands for the next few years. We expect Marriott and Starwood's competitors--Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, etc--to really get going on this trend in 2014. Indeed, Hyatt is already working on mobile check-in similar to Starwood's for their Gold Passport members and IHG's Crown Plaza brand has a mobile check-in solution in place.

So if you're a frequent traveler and you're still using a flip phone, c'mon, just upgrade already.

[Photo: Marriott Hotels]

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