Can automated check-in replace personal service?

Starwood’s Aloft hotels unveils automatic “Smart Check-In” program

As previously reported, many hotels, especially luxury ones, are upgrading their personalised service. But at others it’s just as likely that technology will replace human check-in altogether. Automatic check-in will soon be implemented at Starwood’s Aloft hotels. The chain’s “Smart Check-In” is the industry’s first automatic check-in program that makes use of mobile devices’ radio frequency identification chips. Starwood Preferred Guest members are given a keycard, which is activated from the day their stay begins, completely bypassing the need for check-in.
It’s true that business travellers need immediacy. But this technological development raises questions. One of the highlights of a stay in Asia – which is where Aloft hotels are expanding most rapidly – is hospitality. Will regular guests really return to their favoured brand if all of the personal attention is taken away? What happens if guests are unhappy with their rooms?