Deploying Checkout Free Technology at Hotels

Four Reasons Hotels Are An Ideal Place to Deploy Checkout-Free Tech


Checkout-free technology is becoming more and more commonplace, with retailers of all stripes testing or deploying the technology. Despite slow uptake among more traditional retailers, the technology is ready for the big time, and it’s elevating the shopping experience in some very specific markets.

As discussed in a recent blog, implementing the technology at a live event venue can greatly reduce the time it takes to get a beer and a hot dog. Same goes for airports. But we also mentioned two spaces where an unstaffed store would be ideal—university campuses and hotels. Why? Because they meet demand. And they do so without increasing labor costs.

As a truly 24/7 business, hotels need to provide guests with amazing experiences—anytime. But more often than not, the hotel convenience store is disappointing. Or worse, nonexistent. And this leaves revenue on the table. Checkout-free technology has the opportunity to deliver a better experience for guests, increase hotel revenue, and do so with less risk.

So why should hotels rethink their spaces to incorporate a checkout-free convenience store? Here are just four reasons to make it happen.

The Minibar is Dying

The hotel minibar was the granddaddy of “checkout free technology.” But instead of using cameras, sensors, or biometrics, housekeeping would simply take inventory upon checkout and charge that $24 bag of almonds to the room.

But minibars have fallen out of favor in recent years—both among travelers and operators. For travelers, that $24 bag of almonds is off-putting enough. For hotels, the money simply isn’t there. A 2017 CBRE Hotels report found that minibars accounted for a mere 0.4 percent of the revenue generated by food and beverages.

Plus, think of how much extra work is needed to offer a minibar in the first place. A hotel attendant spends on average 20-30 minutes per room. And every second counts. So, not only does the process of checking, inventorying, and restocking a minibar cut into the time an attendant can spend cleaning, the payoff is negligible.

Over the past decade or so, hotels have pulled the plug on this once-vaunted offering. Citing inconvenience, poor returns, and ambivalence among guests, hotels sought alternatives to the minibar.

The creation or expansion of a hotel convenience store solves two problems. First, a hotel can offer everything a minibar had, likely at a lower price. Second, they can offer a whole lot more options. So, instead of exorbitant prices for small items, hotels can charge slightly elevated prices for regular items.

Let Front Desk Staff Be Front Desk Staff

Front desk staff plays a vital role in the guest experience. But they’re already juggling a lot of things. Checking in guests. Dealing with inevitable complaints. Booking. Offering advice.

All of these things add value. Taking time to process a $2.50 bottle of water doesn’t.

More often than not, the process is an inconvenience for everyone involved. The guest making the purchase needs to wait for a front desk employee to help them. Guests waiting to check in or check out need to wait for the front desk employee to handle the transaction. And front desk employees need to step away from their hospitality duties. This… doesn’t add value.

By opting for cashierless checkout, hotels can keep their staff focused on making the hotel a great place to stay—instead of taking time out of their schedule to process a low-value transaction.

An Opportunity to Provide More Selection

Have you ever gone into a hotel’s “market,” only to find a paltry selection of chips, sodas, and toiletries? It’s disappointing. And for hotels, it’s a missed opportunity.

According to Source1, customers have higher than ever expectations from the hotel convenience store, noting that “today’s conscientious consumer is searching out healthy, unusual, sustainable, and locally sourced products, and they’re willing to pay for it.”

From introducing a broader offering of ‘staples’ to providing unexpected fresh, healthy, or trendy options, hotels can make more out of their convenience store. Because… checkout-free shopping solves another problem—shrink.

Controlled Access Makes Theft a Challenge

There’s a good reason that hotels don’t keep a lot of stuff in their “market.” That stuff is generally pretty easy to steal. This creates a vicious cycle of devaluation. People steal from the grab & go section, so hotels don’t keep valuable items in it. And that’s only if hotels have their own convenience store in the first place.

Without a decent selection of goods, guests are bound to seek other options—whether those options are down the street or through an app.

Hotels are 24/7 businesses. And it pays to act like one. Checkout-free technology makes this easy. By creating a controlled in-hotel convenience store of sorts, hotels can generate more revenue, offer more selection, and create a better guest experience—without adding to their labor costs.

By creating a checkout-free experience at the hotel convenience store, owners and operators can rest easy knowing that a guest can’t enter the shop without a card, all but eliminating the means and opportunity for theft.

Create Unforgettable Experiences—Fixtures, Furniture, & Graphics by Morgan Li

Success in the hotel industry is all about the guest experience. From the time a guest checks in to the moment they depart, your people and your space need to contribute to improving it.

At Morgan Li, we’re committed to helping leaders in the hospitality industry create unforgettable guest experiences. As the leader in providing custom fixtures, furniture, and graphics, we transform guest rooms, common areas, convenience stores, and so much more. And we’re thrilled to be part of one major hotel chain’s deployment of hotel shops equipped with Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology.

We might not be in the technology business, we might not even be in the design business. But we’re in the business of creating spaces that wow. Get to know more about our experience in the hospitality industry, and drop us a line when you’re ready to level up your space.


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Cash wrap and perimeter displays at Brooklinen flagship in New York City. Custom retail fixtures by Morgan Li