Delays in check-in for hotels can reduce guest satisfaction by 50%, even when the delay is ‘as little’ as 5 minutes. That’s not acceptable for either guests or hotels, but fortunately self check-in is set to solve this issue. The hotel industry has now introduced a number of innovations that solve such issues, and one of these is self check-in. Whether it’s done through an app or at a kiosk in the hotel entrance, introducing self check in to your hotel can greatly improve the check-in process, and overall customer service experience.
What is a hotel self check-in
In the olden days, that is five or so years ago, most travellers expected that on arrival at their hotel there would indeed be the final frustration of waiting, then waiting some more at the reception desk. Name and address had to be entered, and IDs checked, payment methods recorded, plus personal preferences about food, or allergies painstakingly entered into the system. And even once you and the receptionist were in the flow, chances are they’d be interrupted by another guest. And definitely not the way anyone wants to begin their hotel stay, whether for business or leisure.
When modern technology started to muscle its way into our lives, one thing that people appreciated was the convenience of not having to wait. We could order goods and services online easily, and have stuff delivered to us. Queuing for things became less attractive, and the pandemic promoted this even more - we don’t like waiting around while forms are filled or processes are gone through. We want everything right now, because we know that the technology exists to give it to us when we want it.
However in the area of travel and hospitality, there are still a significant number of pinch points where standing around and waiting remains the norm. These can include dropping off a bag at the airport, shuffling through security, and - having waited for a taxi - eventually arriving at the hotel. Only to find that there are other guests ahead in the queue at reception and that just at the point when a warm welcome should be expected, another wait is starting. It doesn't have to be like this:
Self check in has become an increasingly important feature of the modern hotel industry, where - as the name suggests - the guest is in control of the process, therefore eliminating wait times and making check in quick and simple. With the steady increase in the use of smartphones, the hotel industry needed to adjust to the demands of modern guests, who want to manage as much as possible from their phones, including check in.
It’s what hotel guests are looking for
This idea of minimising unnecessary contact is supported by surveys, such as the Skift report that 73% of guests questioned (out of 5,000 respondents) said that they were more likely to book into self check in hotels offering low-contact services, such as contactless check in. A 2020 survey of 7,000 travellers revealed that 80% said they would prefer to use an app to check in (and out). In the same year, another survey in the USA showed 90% of guests favouring contactless solutions - trends which have continued to uptick since.
The corollary of this is that in an Openkey survey, guest satisfaction scores were found to drop by 50% if there is ‘as little’ as a 5-minute wait at check-in. And let’s be realistic about this, if a big queue builds up at a peak time in reception, 5 minutes is going to be the least of it.
So, the demand exists for non-queueing, contactless check in, and the benefits should be clear for both guests and hotels: A smoothly flowing operation that is far more efficient, quicker, more satisfying for everyone, and which allows greater personalisation.
Safety and security with hotel self check-in
Now you might say, ‘Ah, OK, but people will still have to queue at reception to get their room key, even if they have already checked in electronically, so there’s no real time saving.’
Not true, if room access is also available thanks to the increasingly popular smart lock integrations. In fact everything that is needed to establish the guest in the hotel, and get them to their room quicker and more efficiently, can be achieved using smart technology, linked to the Hotel Management System to provide a seamless guest experience, and guest journey. Another advantage of electronic check in, also known as contactless check in, is that in these post pandemic times there’s the security of staff and guests not spending longish periods face to face, as they handle documents, credit cards and the like. The weary traveller may have been all day in the company of thousands of other travellers, or cooped up on a flight, so not exposing hotel staff to the unnecessary risk of illness has got to be a big plus.
If you'd like to know more about optimizing the guest journey in your hotel, check out our ebook, that which provides a granular insight into each step.
Reasons to implement self check-in
1. Improves overall hotel check in processes
Guests can pre-register after being prompted by an introductory email. They fill in all their own details in the comfort of their home, or in the downtime of waiting for a flight. And then, when they appear in the hotel lobby, they’re all set - there’s no need for the tedious business of patiently spelling out names and addresses, because all the necessary information is already entered into the Hotel Management System, by the person who knows it best - the guest themselves.
2. Gives guests what they want
Guests want speed and efficiency. They want to get to their room as quickly as possible with the minimum of fuss. Meanwhile, what they do appreciate is a friendly greeting, contact, and engagement with Front Desk staff.
3. Streamlines front desk processes
That contact comes much more easily when staff aren’t tied up with staring at a screen and clicking in details to the computer - because the information is already there, accurately input by the guest.
4. Enables staff to find more upsell and personalisation opportunities
When guests and staff actually converse, rather than merely ‘go through the motions’ of registration, there are opportunities to find out so much more of interests and expectations. This provides the opportunity for staff to make suggestions and upsell services. It becomes truly personal rather than mere formality.
5. Easier to fulfil local requirements
In some countries (such as Hungary and Spain) hoteliers have to forward guests’ data to the authorities, and this is greatly helped by the streamlined nature of self-check-in, taking a further chore from the shoulders of hard-pressed staff.
Smart Solutions - the ultimate hotel applications you need
Let’s take a look at an example of a contactless solution from SabeeApp, with its all-in-one, innovative Hotel Management System for modern hoteliers. The SabeeApp Smart Solutions suite of modern hotel applications enables guests to self check in with three distinct approaches:
- For people most comfortable using their laptop or desktop computer to make transactions, there’s a web-based platform.
- Then there’s the most popular solution, especially with younger guests and the rising tribe of Digital Nomads: GuestAdvisor app, where everything is accomplished by smartphone.
- The third method is a kiosk service which can be sited in hotel lobbies for guests to manage their check in when they arrive at their destination, without the need to queue at the reception desk.
Each platform is efficient, comprehensive, and connects to the Hotel Management System within SabeeApp’s Smart Solutions package, so that all data is automatically stored.
GuestAdvisor doesn't just enable self check in however, because all of the personalisation so valued by today’s guests is also available - for example, virtual concierge services which can send alerts about events, best restaurants, or shopping experiences. It’s also a way of telling guests about wifi passwords, the chef’s special, or services such as spa and beauty treatments. And because guest interests and preferences are stored within the system, they can be ‘mined’ later to analyse general trends, and satisfy the future needs of individual guests.
It’s a powerful part of the guest experience that you know who they are and what they like. The GuestAdvisor app even makes it possible to record details such as birthdays or anniversaries for both future marketing, and the personalisation of a card or welcome gift if guests rebook for a significant date.
Smooth and contactless touchpoints in a hotel
Did anyone anywhere ever say that hotel check in should be irritating and stressful? No, we thought not, and yet in the recent past that’s often been the case, for guests and reception staff alike. The first and lasting impression of a stay usually comes from how welcoming that first touchpoint is on arrival. The smoother it can be, the better.
Fortunately, the technology is now available to make the dream of smooth check in a reality. And getting that technology to a level of customisation for the hotel is painless too - it’s never a one-size-fits-all solution and is always tailored to the specific needs of the business.
However it’s only fair to point out the disadvantages of hotel self check in… (Cue the sound of a long pause while we search for something that mitigates against self check in… A very long pause… But OK, here goes):
Some guests can find using a kiosk in the lobby a little intimidating, and maybe not completely private, so they may still need a helping hand from front office staff (but then that’s an opportunity for some friendly guidance).
Some guests may make errors in typing in their details on their phone or laptop (although this is also occasionally true of some reception staff).
Do these slight disadvantages outweigh the massive advantages of self check in? No, they certainly do not, as evidenced by Airbnb's championing of the process.
The advantages of self check in - a reminder
Save time, save energy, save cost, and make it really easy for guests to love your hotel by smoothing their way at the biggest pinch point: check in. The seamless technology to do this is available right now, fully integrated with efficient, modern Hotel Management Systems. Innovating with contactless self check in should be a priority for any modern hotelier looking to enhance the guest experience.
If you want to experience first-hand the benefits of modern hotel apps that allow guests to complete check in by themselves even before arrival, book a FREE DEMO with SabeeApp and give Smart Solutions a try!