By Eldar Erlich, Associate Product Manager, Qtrac by Lavi Industries
Hotels go to great lengths to accommodate guests with special needs. During the reservation process, guests are asked about concerns such as wheelchair accessibility or a crib so that people have the amenities they need when they arrive. A quality hotel will do everything it can to ensure these guests’ additional needs are met.
However, there’s often a gap in this commitment to service: check-in. If a guest with special needs encounters a long wait when arriving at the hotel, the customer experience may immediately deteriorate. Someone struggling with a medical condition shouldn’t be stuck standing for a long time simply to get their roomkey. And a big family with little kids in a crowded lobby is chaos waiting to happen.
Virtual queuing offers a way to better accommodate special needs and ensure guests aren’t needlessly stressed during check-in, thereby creating a better experience for all guests.
Virtual Queuing: The Basics
Virtual queuing is most often associated with restaurants, retail service counters, DMVs, and other businesses in which customers might need to wait a long time before their turn comes up. It can also be applied to a hotel check-in setting, particularly at casino resorts, big convention hotels, or popular family destinations—anyplace where the lobby can become crowded when swarms of guests arrive.
The technology is straightforward. Upon their arrival, guests enter the queue management system by scanning a QR code, typing their reservation number into a computer kiosk, or giving their info to a greeter. Or the hotel’s reservation app might be integrated with the queuing system so that guests simply tap a button on their phones to begin their wait.
Once in the system, guests receive estimations to their smartphones of how long they will wait before a service representative will be ready to see them. They may also be asked some basic questions about their reservation and can communicate with staff about any concerns or requests they may have.
When a guest’s turn arrives, they are sent another notification telling them to come to the front desk. A nice feature the best queuing platforms deliver is that the system is completely text- and browser-based—guests aren’t required to download a separate app to use the system or send or receive messages.
How Virtual Queuing Helps Guests with Special Needs
For guests with special needs, virtual queuing gets guests to their room with less hassle and, in some cases, in less time. These use cases speak for themselves:
- Guests aren’t stuck waiting in a line for their turn for service. They can stroll the grounds, visit the bar or the coffee kiosk, or, at a casino resort, go play the slots for a little while—knowing they will be alerted when it’s time to check in.
- Instead of waiting in a crowded lobby on a busy Friday, families with children at a waterpark resort can be offered the chance to visit the pool for an hour until it’s time to check in. The system can direct them to the bellhop, who can store their luggage while the kids (and maybe their parents) splash and slide.
- Guests who require a golf cart ride to their rooms can confirm that need as they communicate with the system.
- If a guest’s special needs require out-of-the ordinary service, hotel staff will be ready to deliver without missing a beat. This could include an employee who knows sign language, an extra bellhop to help guests to their room, or anything else that makes the guest’s experience exceptional.
- Similarly, when foreign language speakers enter the virtual queue, staff can ensure an employee who speaks their language is available to help with check-in.
- Walk-in customers—people who need a room but don’t have a reservation—can communicate their particular needs via the system so that the check-in process becomes easier.
On top of these use cases, a virtual queuing system can be configured to prioritize guests with special needs. In a crowded lobby, employees might easily miss an elderly couple with no place to sit or a large, fidgety family. With queue management technology, these customers are less likely to be overlooked, and the system can alert staff if the wait is taking too long. Guests with special needs are given special attention—without other guests necessarily being delayed.
Virtual Queuing for All Guests
Virtual queuing clearly helps with accessibility for those guests who require it, but the technology offers benefits for every customer. No one likes a long wait to check in, and a queue management system makes the process easier and less stressful.
Moreover, virtual queuing can be used in other parts of the hotel, benefiting guests for more than just check-in. Consider these possibilities:
- At a casino resort, patrons can use the system to reserve a place in the queue for a spot at a poker table.
- Restaurants can manage walk-in traffic and allow diners to visit the bar or explore the hotel rather than wait close by.
- Other resort services, such as spa treatments, golf course tee times, and transportation, can use the system to keep track of guest requests and reservations.
With these examples, virtual queuing encourages people to take advantage of—and spend money on—everything the hotel has to offer. Combined with the improved guest experience that the technology facilitates, this contributes to the bottom line and makes the extra effort that hotels put in to accommodate guests worthwhile.