A new project to develop unmanned hotels in Japan may soon eliminate front desk check-ins.
A consortium of five companies, including the trading company Itochu and consumer credit provider Orico, are working to develop a network of hotels that rely on an online reservation and payment system. The contactless smart card-enabled Orico credit cards will serve as keys to contactless-enabled door entry locks.
When hotel guests reserve a room online with their credit card, a “key” is assigned to the card. Since the credit card is the key, guests can bypass the check-in process and proceed directly to the room at the allotted time. The door lock recognizes the IC chip embedded in the credit card, opening for the guest upon arrival. The system eliminates the need for front desk staff to remain on duty.
Other companies involved in the project are Kesaka System, who are developing the entry locks, as well as Espace Construction and Miyabi Estex, who are handling construction and development.
Japanese law requires hotels to maintain staffed front desks, so the unmanned hotels will not be completely staff-free. However, the hotels are expected to require only half the ordinary number of personnel. A dozen or so of these hotels are scheduled to begin operations nationwide in 2008.