The simple science of scanning

Busy hotel reception staff needs as much assistance as possible. Opentec Systems managing director Mohamed Khan explains why a passport scanner will save time as well as fulfilling legalities.

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By  Administrator Published  January 21, 2008

Taking that little bit of extra time to deal with each guest's needs can improve their stay and ensure your hotel gains a reputation for good customer service, so time taken over administration tasks is time wasted, especially when you're checking in guests at the front desk.

Opentec Systems managing director Mohamed Khan explains that in the UAE it is a mandatory legal requirement that every guest staying at a hotel provide a passport if they are a visitor to the country, or an ID card if they are a resident.

The process was a nightmare. So what we have done with this technology is simplified the process.

"The hotel is then required to capture the data from the ID card or passport and upload it to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) reporter. And that has to be done for every single guest," he says.

"When you have a group of 50 people arrive in a hotel lobby, they're standing in front of the counter and if you have to go through this process for all of them it's very time consuming."

Taking each guest's passport, running to the back office, taking a photocopy, scanning it into a DPI flatbed scanner then uploading the other relevant data before sending it can take up to 20 minutes per guest.

"The process was so cumbersome for the hotels - it was a nightmare. Pretty much all the hotels found it a problem, because they had to dedicate three or four staff to it. So what we have done with this technology is simplified the process," says Khan.

"The guest comes in, the scanner captures the complete passport data and the full page image, saves it on the main server and the data entry operator enters the basic data - date and length of stay- attaches the passport JPEG file and uploads it to the CID server. The operation becomes so comfortable, so fast and effective."

Khan says this technology was not being used in hotels until nine months ago when he paid a visit to the Grand Hyatt with an Australian friend and it took over half an hour to check-in.

That's how Opentec gained its first client for the RTE8000, and the firm now supplies more than 100 hotels in the region, including Le Meridien, Marriott, Kempinksi and Shangri-La.

Opentec provides the full service, starting with a demo of the product and then a live dry run.

"We set up the system in two hours and it's ready to go. Then we give the hotel a week before asking for their feedback and they decide if they want it or not," explains Khan.

"For the front office staff it's simple: plug and play. But for the IT manager we provide training for the internal process on the software. What we do is we go into a hotel and work with the IT team to set up the product, do all the training and then we have a team that takes care of the support outside of the UAE."

Furthermore the technology is moving with the times, currently incorporating an RF (radio frequency) module to read the e-chip embedded in the back of e-passports.

"Some countries have not gone for the e-passport as yet, but the US, UK and other European countries are using it. Countries in the Middle East, probably UAE, Doha, Oman and Kuwait are getting into the e-passport concept, so as time goes by it will become the standard," says Khan.

As well as looking to the future with the e-passport function, Opentec has two key objectives for 2008.

"We have a strong software team behind us so we want to develop the scanner to a point where the guest can come in with an ID card or passport, the system picks up their reservation immediately and they don't need to have a reservation number," Khan explains.

Then we want to speak to the CID and tell them we have this technology available and try to get into a situation where we can do a straight upload onto the CID server.

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