The service, which allows guests who have booked online to check-in before arrival and simply pick up their keys when they arrive, has already been rolled out to Thistle hotels in Glasgow, Brighton and London (Barbican, Bloomsbury, Marble Arch and Piccadilly) with plans to roll the service out to another five hotels each week until the end of August.
Mithu Sengupta, ecommerce and distributions director at Thistle Hotels, said a review of the business late last year had identified that check-in was an area that needed improving so capturing customer details online and allowing rooms to be allocated before their arrival would help speed up the process and allow staff to focus on providing a warm welcome and follow up on special requests when guests did get to the hotel.
"From the feedback we’ve gotten thus far it has been extremely well received from users who find the system much simpler and quicker to use," Sengupta said, revealing that its Brighton hotel had experienced the biggest uptake so far.
Results of a recent survey revealed that the majority of hoteliers would like to invest in technology to improve their service, but many did not have the funds available to do so.
Sengupta said costs involved in the technical development of the website to integrate the new service had been 'manageable' and had only taken a couple of months to implement, mainly because it was a function the hotel knew it may want to install at some point.
"As this is an in-house development that we have worked on with our web agency Mediaconcepts and no third parties, the cost has been manageable," he said.
"We did not require any complex business analysis or project management and managed all costs by carrying them out ourselves. The investment costs, both in terms of time and money, have been borne with the ultimate benefits and ROI we expect to achieve."
Sengupta said the service would remain in all 31 properties if deemed to be a success.
The move follows Thistle's aim to become the UK's leading meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition brand. The hotel chain, owned by GLH Hotels Management has invested in facilities at its Marble Arch and Charing Cross properties to 'provide the ultimate working space' for delegates attending meetings and conferences.