Creating a Memorable Hotel Arrival
There’s a lot of conversation in hospitality these days about using technology to create check-ins that are streamlined and require as little staff interaction as possible. I understand the push for convenience, but wonder if we’re losing sight of what “hospitality” is truly about.
What do I mean? The human connection. Thanks to technology, people are living and working on the go, always in touch but self-sufficient. These nomadic professionals prize efficiency, but also opportunities for authentic interaction. Thriving off vibrant spaces, they see hotels as places of engagement. For urban hospitality brands, the check-in is the best way to provide that connection and create that energy.
Grand lobbies aren’t comfortable; people like something to anchor to, a sense of intimacy. In a smaller footprint, guests feel more in control. By rethinking the programming and combining functions, hotels can make check-ins—I like calling them arrivals—a relational experience versus a transactional exchange.
For me, the most memorable arrivals have involved a greeting by a host and being handed a real key. Creating a personal experience—the unassuming entryway, the scent of the food, an inviting seat at the bar, the smiling host—is what hospitality is about. These arrivals are the most intriguing to create and by far the most collaborative, combining spatial and sensory design.
One brand DLR Group is working with, Moxy by Marriott, takes this approach. Travelers arrival in the heart of it all, immediately greeted by a vibrant bar scene where the check-in can be seamless, via an app, or more personal, a chat with the bartender. It’s a return to the birth of the hotel, centuries ago: the inn in the town center, that intimate, welcome combination of shelter and refreshment.
Boutique hotels are always searching for a sense of authenticity. But business realities also push for efficiency, creating solutions like impersonal but efficient check-ins. How will this play out? Time will tell, but my bet will always be on the option that offers human connection.