As long as hotels have existed, guests have been leaving personal items behind in their guestrooms, meeting rooms and common areas. Early lost-and-found services at hotels often consisted of a cardboard box behind the front desk, filled with misplaced travel necessities.
Today, however, hoteliers can offer a true lost-and-found service that enhances the guest experience, makes lost-and-found easier to manage—and can even make lost and found a profit center.
Ken Rosenthal, part of the corporate operations team at Atrium Hospitality, has seen his share of lost items during his career. Atrium has 83 properties in 29 states with more than 21,000 rooms. Rosenthal discreetly demurred from saying exactly how long he has been in the hospitality industry, but he said it is long enough to remember keeping a list of lost items in a ledger. Fortunately, those days are over.
Atrium partners with Chargerback to improve its lost-and-found service. Chargerback is a self-contained, cloud-based system that manages from beginning to end the process of reuniting lost items with their owners. Guests who have lost an item at a hotel can simply fill out an online form through Chargerback. The form is used to match found items with those reported lost.
Chargerback’s service is offered at no cost to its partners, and it is accessible from any device that has internet access. The guest who lost the item receives an email or text when it is found and pays through the Chargerback software for the shipping label.
Chargerback also relieves hoteliers of responsibility from a payment card industry security compliance standpoint.
“I wish we had had this service in my early years in the hospitality industry,” Rosenthal said. “It makes it very easy for the guest, and for the hotel to locate missing items by matching descriptions of items with properties, dates, room numbers and any other information the guest can provide. If anyone isn’t using this service, quite honestly they should consider it.”
Glen Vlasic is general manager of the Wyndham Orlando Resort & Conference Center Celebration Area hotel in Kissimmee, Fla., which has 434 rooms plus 70 timeshare units. Vlasic said the property partners with Bounte, an intelligent lost-and-found app and web platform designed to streamline the lost-and-found operations for hotels. Bounte uses geolocation and artificial intelligence image recognition to record, log and track lost items.
Using a tablet or smartphone, a team member takes a photo of a found item. The Bounte mobile app identifies the item, adds it to the venue’s digital lost and found and auto-tags the image with detailed descriptors. The item is placed in a Bounte bag, and a photo of the bag’s barcode is taken for tracking.
Vlasic added that there’s a small markup on shipping, and that revenue is split with Bounte—turning lost-and-found into a revenue generator.
Bounte also removes concerns about PCI security compliance.
“It’s a great system, and it’s really a no-brainer for any hotel because lost-and-found and package tracking are both pains in the backside that are taken off your hands,” Vlasic said