Checking in and out: problems and possibilities


We've all been there. It is time to leave the hotel which means checking out at the front desk. Being that the checkout time is the same for most guests, this creates a bottleneck that leaves guests unsatisfied and staff working with less efficiency. Is there a viable, more efficient alternative?

According to our survey, the most requested features on a service such as Hotelway's are fast check-ins and check outs. Most often travellers are unsatisfied with how hotels manage these. It is not uncommon to book a hotel room, filling all traveller details on the website or app, but then having to repeat all these steps during check-in at the hotel can be very frustrating. Shouldn't hotels already have this information readily available?

Check-ins and checkouts at the reception desk provide no real value to customer experience and are basically nothing but a preventable nuisance. However, streamlining a checkout process has its own problems too. If the checkout time is 12:00 but the guest leaves at 9:00 without staff knowing it, housekeeping can become quite inefficient. So, it is crucial to ensure that important information is not lost while optimizing checkouts.

A great check-in and checkout process is quick and easy for guests but also provides staff with all critical information. A viable solution is, for example, an online or application handled process such as Hotelway's.

This does not mean a fully integrated PMS system is needed either. There exist some very light integration solutions that require a setup time of only two hours. Concerns of high front-costs might be unsubstantiated in this case.

The often-untapped potential

Most hotels fail to take the opportunity to up-sell additional services during check-ins. Other than being extremely convenient, an online check-in is a perfect opportunity to offer room upgrades, snacks to the room or other last-minute special offers. A possibility to reserve a table at the restaurant or book an hour in the spa should also be considered. All relevant information - such as contact details, credit card information and membership or loyalty data - would also be passed on to the hotel at the time of booking.

Checking in online should also provide the guest with the possibility to communicate their room preferences, e.g. location. Some guests would surely prefer a room located on a low floor, close to the elevator or far from the bar. An excellent hotelier always considers their guests' wishes as much as possible.

Online check-ins should also add value for the hotelier. For example, housekeeping logistics can be helped with guests providing estimates for their arrival and departure. And, the processing of guest data being automatic, checking guests in should prove less cumbersome with an online system.

An ideal situation would be a self-service kiosk with printable key cards (and additionally even coupons and other tickets). A guest would provide their reservation code and get instantly whatever they have ordered. This would also work as a key drop-off point after an express checkout. After checking out and dropping off keys, an automated system would send the guest a thank-you note and the receipt for their stay.

Here's where we come in

We at Hotelway aim to alleviate all the problems and annoyances associated with check-in and checkout process. We take care of everything from booking to checking out. We want to get rid of extra steps, such as waiting at the front desk to fill in information that the hotel should already have. This makes hotel staff's job easier too, when they can reallocate their resources into more important processes rather than wasting time with inconsequential and customer experience-worsening matters. When the staff is freed up from this, they can concentrate on the things that actually matter to the guest. We are not out to replace the reception staff; we are here to help them do something more meaningful for the guests.

The time for those annoying slips of paper is over. Go digital.