Forget the Front Desk: Norwegian Comfort Xpress Opens with Automated Check-ins

Nordic Choice Hotels has implemented Ariane Systems’ Allegro Online/Mobile/Kiosk check-in solution with the launch of the hip new Comfort Xpress brand concept. The first Comfort Xpress branded hotel, which opened January 10th in Oslo, Norway with 180 compact rooms, features a 100% automated check-in solution.
Through Ariane’s Allegro Web-based platform, Comfort Xpress guests are invited to check-in prior to arrival, using the Allegro Web/mobile check-in platform. By simply clicking on the link received by e-mail or SMS on their preferred Web-enabled device, such as personal computer, laptop, PDA, cell phone or iPad, guests can set up an automatic check-in time, manage room preferences, update their profile, and pre-pay online with a choice of payment options. On the day of arrival, guests receive another e-mail/SMS with their room number and options on how to access the room, either via OpenWays Mobile Key—using their personal cell phone to go straight to their room and activate the door lock— or by obtaining an RFID keycard through Ariane’s self-service check-in/out kiosks.
Through a recently completed integration with KABA’s Saflok door locking system, the Ariane kiosks installed at Comfort Xpress are equipped with a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) key encoder that dispenses encrypted RFID keycards. These cards provide secure entry to guests’ assigned rooms simply by passing the card in front of a reader on the door lock.
Cell phones as room keys
A second phase of technology at Comfort Xpress will also integrate the OpenWays Mobile Key cell phone-based front desk bypass system, which will allow guests to directly access their assigned rooms using their personal cell phone as a key. OpenWays’ patented solution turns any cell phone into a secured room key using the principle of Crypto Acoustic Credentials and SMS to securely deliver a key code to the correct user anywhere in the world via a unique, encrypted sound pattern. At Comfort Xpress, the OpenWays system will be integrated with the Saflok RFID electronic door locks and the Ariane Allegro web-based check-in solution, maximizing the benefits of all three advanced technologies.
“When we began to develop our new Comfort Xpress brand, we decided to start from scratch and totally abandon the traditional rules by which most hotels today operate, instead pioneering new technologies that are designed to increase cost-efficiency and guest convenience, while also promoting environmental responsibility,” says Thomas Westergaard, senior VP of Comfort Hotels for Nordic Choice Hotels. “The airline industry automated the check-in process 10 years ago, and we feel it is time that the hotel industry follows suit. By maximizing the use of new technologies and offering increased self-service options, we are able to cater to the needs of our guests while saving operational costs that can be passed along to them in the form of lower rates. Our 100% self-service check-in process allows guests to check-in where, when and how they want, and represents a first in the hospitality industry. We are proud to be setting a new standard.”
In order to create the fully automated self-service check-in/out solution for the Comfort Xpress brand, Nordic Choice Hotels initiated the development of a best-of-breed solution, integrating the most advanced technologies available from the hospitality industry’s leading suppliers. One criteria was that the technologies had to work seamlessly within Cenium, Nordic Choice Hotels’ centralized property management system that is used chain-wide to manage all aspects of each hotel’s operation.
“Nordic Choice Hotels has always had a corporate culture of innovation, and with Comfort Xpress, we had to push the envelope even further to create an entirely new breed of hotel,” says Westergaard. “The vendors chosen for this technology integration had to be absolutely top-notch. Ariane Systems, OpenWays and KABA have each contributed significantly to the development of this concept, and we look forward to working closely with them as we roll it out to our guests.”
Beyond the automated check-in
In addition to the automated check-in/out solution, Nordic Choice Hotels is also differentiating the Comfort Xpress brand through the use of other unique guest-service concepts, such as a digital concierge in the lobby, pinball and football tables in common areas, graffiti wall art, live music concerts and even their own rock music channel. Social media is used as a primary communication channel for the brand, allowing guests to play an important role in decisions, ranging from wall color to which musical artists to play in the lobby.
“Located in downtown Oslo near many music venues, we offer a great urban setting, and we designed the brand to appeal to a dynamic urban professional who wants a nice, efficient stay at a hotel that allows them to utilize their mastery of technology – and one that appeals to all their senses at a fair price,” says Simen Vinge, general manager. “We are moving toward the future of hospitality, and the way to do that is by looking into the mind of the guest of the future. Our new automated check-in/out is an important aspect of that evolution.”
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