Behold the human-free, fully-automated hotel stay

Many of the individual elements of the tech-led hotel are in place, but a hotel in Norway has joined all the dots together, creating a completely human-free experience.

Combining check-in/out and guest management software from France-based Ariane Systems with room door technology from OpenWays, visitors to the Comfort Xpress Hotel in Oslo will soon be able to complete their entire stay without ever speaking to a member of staff.

Once a customer has booked their stay over the web or call centre they can use their reference details to carry out a number of processes which effectively automate the entire process.

Before arrival at the hotel, similar to an airline check-in service, guests can notify the property of their arrival and complete passport registration for overseas guests, select a room and other services through Ariane’s system – a platform which is integrated with the hotel or chain’s back-end reservation platform.

When the customer actually arrives at the property they either pick up a keycard from a kiosk in the foyer or can be sent a mobile key system provided by OpenWays, a provider of mobile door systems which unveiled a mobile app for  its technology in March 2010.


The keycard works on a RFID system which includes the customer’s details and pre-assigned services, so it can be used elsewhere around the hotel or for in-room services.

The mobile key version works by emitting a unique ring tone to open the room door, says Ariane UK managing director, Miles Gaudoin.

Meanwhile, during the duration of the stay, guest services are run entirely from the hotel’s site or via the mobile, covering areas such as restaurant bookings, leisure services including spa treatments as well as activities in the local area which can be booked through the hotel.

Finally, guests can check-out from their mobile device at any time, even once they have left the property, settling outstanding charges via secure payment systems.


Ariane says it is working with a string of major hotel chains, including Hilton, IHG and Rezidor, to roll out various parts of its technology around the world.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  3. Elke Hierl-Steinbauer

    I agree with RM. We all get annoyed when an automated voice on the phone keeps you on hold forever and gives you certain options, but not really what you WANT to ask. No staff at a hotel? Soooooo … what if you have rowdy neighbours that party all night? No-one there to help but an artificial computerized robotic bell-hop? Of if there is a medical emergency? How do you negotiate long-term or group deals? Of maybe you just need someone to listen to your woes? A non-human hotel? Not funny. Silly concept. Agreed, RM

    • Øyvind

      RM. Completely disagree with you. As long as price is the determinant factor for why people choose a hotel over another, then automation will win in the end. You cannot keep lower prices with a staffed hotel as opposed to an unstaffed. The maths don’t add up. You can either fight automation and lose, or take advantage of it.

      • Elke Hierl-Steinbauer

        Well … we live in the north and our clients are all from a region from 800km to the West to 300 km to the East to 400km to the North to 400 km to the south. Those people often live in very remote areas and don’t socialize a lot. They would be SHOCKED, if they had to use an automated hotel, since staying here is their chance for storytelling. We implemented a continental breakfast buffet only three years ago and MAN … do people sit down and talk and connect. I can’t see anyone greeting Mr. Dinosaur with a nice Concierge Uniform greeting them. At least not in our environment. Big Cities … different story.

  4. R M

    Silly concept. First off, most (m/h)otels already have minimal staff. When the battery on the door lock fails and the customer is locked out, the manager will have to be there. The computer will not clean the rooms, so complaints are sent to whom, if the housekeeper forgets to make a bed, or pickup a used tampon under the bed? What about system blackouts, hacking, etc? Hacks out of a job might find it fun to mess with system, no?
    The point is, the situation will be similar to automated phone systems, it saves corporations money but has grown annoying to most humans and probably stress out workers who deal with problems, since they get the problem after machine already ate into the customers patience.

    • YNRA

      Most hotels do have minimum staff. That minimal staff costs 112 hours a week, and is largely free money for the employee.

  5. Ben

    The report may imply no human contact but for me this is about guest choice and enabling new ways to interact with progressive hotels. I am all for that.

    I for one would prefer to perform the check-in process in the comfort of my home using my PC. I wouldn’t have to spend 10 minutes filling in forms at the reception desk when all I want is to get my room key and go to my room.

    15 years ago this might not have taken off but it will now – look at the way the world is going – all social media and generations of people who can’t function without their personal “Smart” devices.

    More choice, more flexibility and something that could save my precious time gets my vote.

  6. Josh

    I fail to understand what problem this product is attempting to resolve here. If we are to assume that this product is meant to replace the human component at a hotel, who then responds to “my phone won’t let me into my room”? Or if this technology is to be an additional “Self Check-in” option for the guests who book their hotels online, I would assume that Openways has then added a nice fee for using their services to send you an encrypted sound to your phone. I’m fairly sure that within this scenario the Hotel is not going to eat the cost of this solution because it’s a nice to have but rather pass the additional fee along to the guests in the form of an added fee for usage or even just a higher room rate in general at the hotel. Further more the solution is actually not touting that they’re replacing the human factor at all but rather that the solution can be used in conjunction with the existing electronic locks. Fantastic now there are two ways to open the same electronic lock. Everyone is familiar with the “I think someone was in my room and took my XYZ” So, not only does this require that the front desk staff learn how to audit the electronic lock with one system, now they’re going to have to learn how to do it from a second system that was designed to bypass the original system. Again, I have somehow failed to understand how this technology is even remotely useful beyond “that’s cool”.

  7. Dave

    Is this the future?

    I will miss the human interaction. I think it will be one of those ‘ you don’t know what you got ’til its gone’

  8. Sara

    Look – no hands! Like the hotel, this is an automated comment (only joking – I am a human).

    I think the hotel is an interesting concept. If money can be saved on staff involved in the checking in process and booking process etc, then it can be invested elsewhere. But then, there is something quite welcoming about being greeting and checked in by a real human, which computers will never be able to replicate.

  9. bill

    Sorry Kevin, i’m with @Ben. Article, like so many others that have doomed the hotel business to forever explain why ALL hotels dont have some tech device that 3 % of total hotels in the world have, never says “guests have the option to…” it clearly implies that its “hands free, human free”. Clearly its a wave of the future, but kiosk, pre reg, express c/i is not a new idea. Hyatt had it at Orlando airport 15 years ago, “funny enough” it did not catch on/ survive. For every techie who doesnt want to deal w/ ANY humans there are 2 travelers who couldnt survive without the assistance. there is room for and demand for both.thanks

  10. Ben Alcock

    @Kevin No, you’re absolutely right…I don’t get it.

    I mean, I really don’t get why you’d get rid of your front-desk folk.

    The ones that smile at you after you’ve flown half-way round the world, dealt with a slightly dodgy cabbie, and stepped in from the snow.

    You’re right.

    I don’t get it.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @ben – sorry, still not sure if you understanding it.

      there’s nothing at all to say getting rid of front-desk folk either.

      just automating check-in and check-out, if you want it.

  11. Ben Alcock

    Who re-stocks the mini-bar and makes the bed?

    Curious that this was posted in the same bulletin as “What do customers write about most in hotel reviews?”

    Even curiouser that the Number 1 thing they write about is…staff.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @ben – sorry, not quite sure you get it.

      it’s “human-free” in terms of checking in, checking out, concierge services.

      there’s nothing at all to say that the bed isn’t made, bar restocked, etc, etc.

      it’s still a hotel, after all.

  12. Jeff

    like Hugo about Baudelaire: “You create an all new shudder.”

  13. Rants, Raves, Traveltech

    The perfect by-the-hour hotel. 🙂

  14. Stephen

    Well about time, along with QR Codes this will be the norm for hotel, restaurants and all travel, slowly the credit card and cash will go away..

  15. Sam Daams

    All the most innovative stuff in travel happens in Norway! 🙂

  16. Steve

    Thats some very cool tech! Worth pointing out that there’s been hotels in Japan with no reception (so automated) for years though.

    • Roscoe

      I have used these hotels and they are absolutely wonderful! The one I used was somwhere between Berlin and Frankfurt and I am trying to locate it so all of my people can experience it the way I did. It was nice in that I arrived much like I arrive at my own house. I parked. Walked to the front door, punched in a code and the door unlocked. I went to my room, opened the door and never saw a single person anywhere. It was wonderful! The next morning, I got up and went downstairs and there was ONE PERSON who was in the breakfast area making sure the breakfast bar stayed stocked. After I left, I assume there is a cleaning crew that took care of cleaning everything, because the place was absolutely spotless (What else would you expect in Germany!).

      As for the people out there who get nervous and clinically anxious if they are ‘left home alone’ without a babysitter to talk to. I agree, this is not a hotel for you. There are plenty other hotels out there with people who will hold your hand for you. If you are in Japan, they will even have a person who will tell you which elevator to take (out of two)! They will even tell you where you MUST place your luggage to have it carried to your room!

      BUT for me — leave me alone. Don’t bother me. I’m tired when I arrive at a hotel, and do not want to be bothered by soneone asking me a lot of question or trying to make small talk. I want to relax. I want to rest.

      Yes. I would even pay extra for this hotel. Although it was very reasonable.


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