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Some different responses to Michael Sansolo's column yesterday about how the W hotel chain now is allowing patrons at some properties to use applications on their smart phones to avoid the front desk and both check in and unlock their rooms.

MNB user Andrew D. Couch wrote:

Hilton Hotels is also employing keyless room access and check-in via phone app. I use this a few months ago at a Hilton in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was wonderful.  I went straight from the parking garage to my room and just placed my phone in front of the reader on my hotel room door to enter.  So for the entire stay I did not need to stop at a desk at all to check in, check out or do anything else. My receipt came via email.  A real timesaver.

MNB user Jason Brasher wrote:

I travel frequently, as many in this industry do, and have often thought, “if only my Marriott app could be my key as well as check me in and out”.
It can’t come soon enough in my opinion. I do hope that the hotel chains will maintain staff that are engaging in the spaces where I often find them both helpful and value added to the stay. This is generally a concierge lounge, lobby, eating establishment/area. Even if I don’t need a key, a short conversation with a local can be great even though an app or Google can help me find a place to eat or something to do in the area.
It may not be everyone’s opinion, I may not even use it every trip, but the personal interactions are appreciated and whether it’s the hotel or the store, there really isn’t an app for that, at least not if it is done well.

But another MNB user disagreed:

How sad. One more tool to eliminate jobs, contribute to the de-socialization of America and eliminate personal contact, which in many ways is how service industries differentiate themselves. Many of us have been there and my experience is “when arriving late” there typically is not a single person in line and a friendly face (friendly is part of their job description) is a pleasant diversion from the travel hassles…Yes, I know that 2 minutes is going to change the course of the evening, but heck if you can get away without talking to a human and eliminate a job all the better…And yes, the 1 minute in the morning when you simply drop-off your “key” is a game changer. Let’s look for self-making beds too, or a discount if you make your own bed. Housekeepers don’t need jobs either.

Actually, that's already happening. At some hotels, one can get extra loyalty points if you say housekeeping doesn't have to come in.

I can appreciate your feeling that technological innovations like these - just like e-commerce - can be job killers. But you can't stop progress ... and it will be up to companies to figure out how to marry technological innovations to new kinds of service that will satisfy customers in a relevant and compelling fashion.
KC's View: