LOS ANGELES—Frictionless is the goal for most hotels. Whether a guest is checking in, adjusting room controls, ordering room service, or doing anything else in a property, guests want that experience to be seamless. And as technology is increasingly taking over the check-in process—with some hotels beginning to forego the traditional front desk and others evolving it—it’s important that all steps in the process be smooth—and it can sometimes be difficult to balance that goal with the need for security.
Yossi Zekri, president & CEO of Acuant, noted that the booking process has changed dramatically over the past few years. “High competition in the hospitality industry has meant that hotels have to adopt new technology for a better customer experience when it becomes available,” he said. “In the past five years we have seen the growth rate of mobile transactions explode for booking and check-in, and an increasing amount of keyless hotels that use mobile apps for sleek and modern experiences. Consumers today will look for best experiences, and that usually means convenience with no hassle. This has transformed the hotel industry into a digitally driven one.”
So how can hotels create that digital experience with the right security measures? Having an identity capture and verification solution is one way. “Capturing accurate and verified data from guest IDs at check-in and booking allows hotels to begin marketing and creating guest preferences seamlessly,” Zekri said. “Automating the capture and import of data into their hotel management systems takes that burden away from employees, who can focus more on guests. The same application can be used for quick and easy loyalty program sign-ups at front desks, mobile apps, online and at self-service kiosks.”
As for security, Zekri said, “Security is a factor that hotels must think about from different aspects. While giving your identity documents used to be common only abroad, now in the U.S. you are asked to present your ID and credit card. Some hotels photocopy the ID, which can leave them liable for this information; others simply glance at the ID and make what is usually an untrained judgment call on the validity.”
With the installation of ID scanning systems via mobile or desktop scanners, he said, hotels can scan an ID and get results in seconds as to whether the ID is fraudulent. “This is much more effective than an untrained human eye and also gives you the option to securely store accurate information rather than photocopies, while making the check-in process much speedier and more pleasant for guests,” Zekri said.
“Further, hotels never have to question who is in their establishment and can keep accurate records. This type of ID verification creates a secure atmosphere that mutually benefits guests and hotels,” he continued, noting that this also helps hotels deal with hot-button issues like human trafficking. “The ability to capture IDs upon check-in and create watch lists within hotel chains for IDs that have been making an irregularly high amount of reservations, has become helpful in catching traffickers. In addition, hotels are using ID authentication to combat credit card fraud by identifying fraudulent IDs at check-in.”
How will this play out going forward? “We are only going to move further into the digital space; some hotels have already been focusing on driving experiences at their properties through mobile apps used for everything from spas, to dining to replacing physical keys,” Zekri said. “There will be more innovations around this that will command more security, which can be accomplished with ID authentication and biometric verification, such as fingerprint and facial recognition technology that we are seeing more and more today with sharing economy apps and things like mobile banking.”