Thursday, August 20, 2020 / by Ken Couture
When Yolanda Nevarez visits Las Vegas, she walks right past the people lined up at the hotel check-in desk and heads straight to her room.
A regular at MGM Resorts properties, she uses her phone to pull up the M Life smartphone app, where she can check in remotely. A virtual room key is delivered to her phone, which she waves in front of a reader on the door to let herself in.
“The fact that your phone is your key, I love that,” said Nevarez, who is from San Antonio, Texas.
“When you’re going in and out of the room, you’re often in a hurry for whatever reason and a lot of people forget their key. My phone is always with me,” she said.
The mobile check-in option isn’t new at many Strip resorts, but it is becoming more popular during the coronavirus pandemic as guests seek to avoid lines of people, a number of resort operators said.
After shutting down for more that two months starting in mid-March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Strip resorts are now welcoming people back.
Nevarez said she has used MGM’s mobile check-in option for the past couple of years and loves the convenience.
“I’ve used it at Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Delano,” she said. “Any city that you travel to, the first thing you want to do is get to your room and unload your stuff.”
In the main lobby at Caesars Palace on Thursday morning, a steady stream of hotel guests used one of a dozen or so self-serve express kiosks to check into their rooms. The kiosks allow people to avoid lines at the check-in desk and get a physical key card.
Using the kiosks cuts check-in time in about half, said Joshua Margolis, vice president of loyalty and digital products for Caesars Entertainment.
“Since reopening many of our Las Vegas resorts, we have experienced a significant increase in mobile check-in and kiosk usage,” Margolis said.
The Venetian and Palazzo introduced remote check-in last year and added the option for guests to get a virtual key on their smartphones in June.
Guests don’t need to download an app but are directed to a special web landing page. They can also check in at a kiosk.
Before the pandemic, mobile check-in was most popular with business travelers, said Jaime Miranda, vice president of hotel operations and luxury services for the Venetian. That’s since changed, she said.
“We’ve seen a definite increase by our leisure guests since we reopened,” Miranda said. “In fact, interest in mobile check-in hit an all-time high last month when about one-third of our leisure guests used this option.”
The resort was already moving toward more contactless services before the pandemic, “but suddenly the world has changed,” Miranda said.
Luxury hospitality is about “providing service to each guest in their preferred manner, so it was only natural that we would evolve our service to offer safer contact and contactless solutions,” she said.
Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said contactless options for check-in and other casino services creates a safer environment and gives people more confidence about visiting Las Vegas.
Valentine said she thinks the pandemic will likely spur even more innovation.
“I think the industry was already headed in the direction of some cashless systems in the gaming environment,” she said. “We don’t know how long we’ll be managing the virus, so I think we have to be committed to the long haul. I think technology will help us operate safely and continue to welcome guests back.”
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