Originally published on the StayNTouch blog.
No one wants to wait in line for the front desk anymore.
This is true for practically everyone, but especially “swipe left, swipe right” millennials, who have grown accustomed to instant gratification. When they arrive at a hotel, today’s travelers expect efficiency. And when they don’t get what they expect, they complain. And when they complain on TripAdvisor or Yelp, word spreads fast, damaging your brand and your bottom line. That’s why hotels are investing in technology that enables them to simplify their check-in procedures and provide personalized service to their guests. In some cases, it means eliminating the traditional stop at the front desk altogether.
Travelers and hotel guests are driving the technological revolution that is now changing the face of the hotel and hospitality industry. In particular, mobile devices are transforming how guests manage their entire stay, from beginning to end.
Consider this. In a hotel.com survey of nearly 10,000 travelers representing 31 countries, 76 percent said their mobile device was their favorite travel accessory. This research also revealed that 42 percent of people globally have booked a hotel using their mobile device.
But most interesting of all was this takeaway from the research: Increasingly, guests expect alternatives to the traditional hotel registration desk, including automated check-in and the option to pay with their mobile device.
Strategies & Tips
Are you interested in making check-in fast and efficient for your guests while increasing your hotel’s profitability? Begin streamlining your hotel’s check-in desk today by incorporating these strategies and tips:
- Add check-in kiosks. Among U.S. travelers, 44 percent of respondents told hotel.com that they would be willing to check themselves in at a hotel kiosk. Many hotel chains like Hyatt are already doing it. Ideally, kiosks should be placed in the lobby. Invest in a technology that has capabilities beyond self-check-in. For example, some software solutions enable guests to also review their reservations and program their room keys. Keep in mind that kiosks should be easy to use, because most travelers are encountering them for the first time. Some hotels are experimenting with a hybrid model. They assign iPads to lobby staff to check in guests at the front desk or in the lobby. Instead of lining up in front of the registration desk, guests are greeted by hotel ambassadors who sit down with them in comfortable couches. Guests can enjoy a glass of wine while hotel hosts use an iPad with a credit card reader or a laptop to check them in.
- Allow hotel guests to use their mobile devices for remote check-in. The writing is on the wall! In a survey of 500 millennials, a whopping 90 percent said they would be interested in using a mobile device for check-in. Remote check-in can be web-based or via a mobile app like Zest™. Guests can typically log on to your app, search for available rooms, and make selections based on their needs. Some hotels include remote check-in as a benefit for loyalty club members. Some apps can also function as high-tech key cards. Apps can be used for more than expediting hotel check-in. Use it as a marketing tool to educate guests about the hotel, offer them discounts and special offers, or sell them other items.
- Introduce early check-in flexibility…for a fee. Another way to simplify the registration desk and create more happy clients is to be flexible with check-in time. The traditional 3 p.m. check-in time is unrealistic for most travelers, many of whom are arriving via long-haul flights that often arrive in the early hours of the morning. Who wants to deal with check-in after a red-eye? Customer-focused hotels should consider introducing a flexible check-in policy. Allow guests who want to arrive early to pre-pay for early check-in. Imagine the goodwill it will create when your customers learn the old-school check-in desk has been streamlined. It’s yet another smart way to generate additional revenue for your hotel while putting a smile on your customers’ face. It’s quickly becoming an industry trend among large and smaller properties alike.
By simplifying and automating their check-in process, hotels will see a significant return on their investment. The benefits they will receive from investing in technology and in their frontline employees include an optimal guest experience that is efficient, convenient and hassle-free. When guests can manage the entire process on their mobile devices or via lobby kiosks—from booking their own rooms to handling hotel check-in—they feel empowered, respected, and valued. They will be back! Reduced costs come from self-service check-in where your guests get to cut the line in the lobby while your hotel cuts labor costs. That’s a win-win! Brand reputation protection is created as well. In the old world, when hotel guests had a bad experience, maybe they told their friends and co-workers about it. But nowadays, with the advent of social media, word of mouth travels far and fast. When guests are made to wait, the hotel pays a steep cost in damage to its brand and its bottom line.