a room with tables and chairs

Does anyone else go a little bit quiet, and feel a little self conscious when settling a hotel breakfast, lunch, dinner or bar tab? I certainly do. It’s probably Hollywood’s fault.

There’s that awkward moment when a server either asks for the room number — an instant security red flag — or hands you a printed bill where you can pretty much write any series of names or numbers and make a mad dash for it, or just be a decent honorable human and put down your actual details. 

Even then, you can’t help but panic at the thought of someone seeing your room number and last name and deciding it could be fun to tell friends to charge things to your room bill. To be clear, all this stuff happens everyday, in a hotel somewhere. 

Why? There’s really no good reason, other than because it’s an exploitable gap in the hotel experience which drives both customers and hotels crazy. Hotels could just take credit cards and it turns out, that idea wasn’t far from the game-changer idea that they should’ve been using all along. Finally, a company has connected those dots. 

a fire on a table with a fire in front of a marina

Tap Your Room Key To Pay

Mews is a hotel and hospitality technology company which historically has only really been interesting to people in the business. That very much changed virtually overnight, after a Mews acquisition of a point of sale system created their latest product, allowing you to tap your room key to settle a hotel bill, like breakfast.

No more verbally sharing your name and room number for all guests to hear, or arbitrarily writing it along with your name somewhere, all rife for dispute about whether it was actually you.

It’s really that simple too. You finish your eggs benny, you ask for the bill, and just like a contactless credit card payment, the waiter brings the machine over and you can tap your room key to validate the charge to the hotel point of sale system. More security, fewer awkward whispers. 

We connected the dots between the keycard systems, via the PMS to the POS. So now it is possible to simply tap your keycard in the restaurant on the POS, and it will automatically identify your room account and make the posting. Eliminating mistakes and saving time for both guests and waiters.


Curb Your Enthusiasm

Now, before we all start rushing down to the buffet ready to get lit on avocado toast and flat whites, only to quickly and securely tap and run, this is a new product. It’s also one that hotels need to buy into.

Many hotels already use Mews for various hotel functions such as payment processing or guest experience management, but this won’t be everywhere right away.

The good news — I actually think a hotel would be nuts not to use this. This system would clearly ensure more transactions are valid and will actually be paid for — with the side benefit of fewer disputes at checkout leading to better guest satisfaction — but we’ll have to wait and see how quickly and widely this rolls out.

It’s a lot harder to obtain someone’s room key than it is to overhear someone closing out a bar tab.

For now, I’m cautiously optimistic that some of these tech companies may actually make fractured elements of the travel experience better, and if I can enjoy my little luxury breakfast or sunset cocktails without whispering sweet nothings to the kind servers of the hotel world, I’ll be thrilled. 

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. This does sound cool and like an improvement for all bur if someone was concerned about fraud then why not whip out a credit card and just settle that F&B bill then and there instead of charging it to the room?

  2. I’ve seen this method used in hotels in the Canary Islands at least since 2005, but using the magnetic stripe room card instead. They swiped the card, old credit card style, and they issued a receipt for you in case that you wanted to keep it.

    I guess they have to be using NFC cards at this point for the same.

  3. We were regulars at a hotel in Scotland around 20 years ago and someone did this to us. I pointed out, that if they checked their records they would find we ate and paid in their restaurant on our last night, so would not have had another meal in the bar that evening. Unfortunately, the staff member got quite aggressive about it, instead of just checking. Eventually, they admitted their mistake. No proper apology or offer of anything off our next stay etc. Haven’t stayed there since.

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