Marriott bets on contactless features at select-service hotels, even after pandemic

Apr 6, 2021

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Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, is making a bet that hotel guests — at least those at select-service hotels — will continue to demand contactless, automated systems to replace some of the in-person functions that were normal in a pre-COVID-19 world.

On Monday, the chain unveiled two new initiatives aimed at providing guests with more options to limit their interactions with hotel staff during a stay.

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The first is a pilot programme now available for use at several select-service properties, including the Moxy NYC Times Square, Courtyard New York Manhattan/Midtown East and the TownePlace Suites in Monroe, Louisiana.

Guests will be able to utilisse self-service kiosks to complete the check-in and checkout process, view their folio and sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy programme right from these kiosks, which use “antimicrobial technology baked into the touchscreen glass, powered by UV light to kill bacteria and viruses,” according to a press release from Marriott.

Marriott self-serve check-in
(Photo courtesy of Marriott)

The kiosks will also generate room keys for guests, eliminating the need to visit the check-in desk at all. These self-service kiosks will soon be available at the Moxy Miami South Beach.

Next, Marriott has rolled out automated grab-and-go “vending machines” at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Frederick and Fairfield Inn and Suites Arundel Mills BWI Airport in Maryland as a “proof of concept,” per the chain’s release. These large kiosks will stock all sorts of goodies, including snacks, drinks, “lite bites and sundries.”

Additionally, they will house the hotel’s complimentary breakfast items, such as hot sandwiches, sweet breakfast items, yoghurt, fruit and more. You’ll also be able to purchase coffee drinks and other a-la-carte food items using contactless payment platforms.

Marriott contactless grab and go
(Photo courtesy of No Brick LLC for Marriott International)

Marriott notes in its press release that these moves are backed by research showing travellers are interested in seeing contactless solutions stick around, even as we can see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Save for the contactless grab-and-go machines, guests can already complete many — if not all — of the functions of a self-serve kiosk right within Marriott’s Bonvoy app, which offers mobile check-in, checkout and even room keys, along with the ability to communicate with hotel staff through the in-app messaging feature.

While it remains to be seen whether or not travellers will continue to prefer contactless solutions in hotels, rolling these types of initiatives out in select-service properties makes sense. These are typically the hotels where guests don’t expect things like turndown service with chocolates at the bedside, concierges, individualized check-in experiences and the like.

Often, guests who choose these hotels only need a place to stay for a night or two and are perfectly happy with not seeing or talking to anyone upon checking in and out and grabbing a snack or beverage without interacting with staff.

Going forward, even in a post-pandemic world in which people crave interaction with others, it’s reasonable to expect hotel chains to continue to replace in-person interactions with contactless processes — especially at hotels on the lower end of the pricing spectrum.

Featured image courtesy of No Brick LLC for Marriott International

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