Something is disappearing from hotel lobbies across the Triangle: the imposing, impersonal front desk.
Desks that resemble tables or podiums are replacing those long, marble barriers -- for decades the cold centerpiece of the American hotel lobby -- as more hotels experiment with new check-in procedures aimed at cutting down long lines and making guests feel more welcome. Consider:
* Plans for a Hotel Indigo in Durham include a circular, low-to-the-ground front desk resembling an information desk at the mall.
"If a front-desk person is checking someone in and they want to walk them to the elevator, they can do so very easily," said Natasha Gullett, an Indigo spokeswoman. In older hotels, clerks are "locked behind those front desks; they don't have that flexibility."
* The region's first Aloft hotel, to be built near Raleigh-Durham International Airport, is to include a circular "free floating" front desk that also will offer more flexibility.
* Durham's Wyndham hotel may be retrofitted with podium-like pods as part of a national redesign planned by the chain.
* Lifestyle Hospitality, which plans a boutique hotel in Durham, wants to do away with the front desk altogether. Employees with electronic tablets will greet guests, sign them in and walk them to their rooms.
"It's almost like walking into a private home, where the host approaches you," said Lifestyle CEO Steve Marx. "... You'd be crazy to think a traveler would not feel comforted or welcome by that."
Technology is a big part of the front-desk evolution. For years, clerks were tethered to the desk answering phones, working the cash register or guarding keys.
Source : Ehotelier
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