How online hotel check-in technology supports personal service

If there’s one thing in the hospitality world that has remained constant until now, it’s the check-in procedure. But online hotel check-in is on the rise, and even small property owners should be excited by the opportunities it brings. Here’s why online hotel check-in actually enhances the guest experience by giving you more time to provide personal service.

Why smaller hotels are hesitant about check-in technology

Smaller properties pride themselves on offering personal service, which helps them stand out from the competition. With online hotel check-in, guests actually manage the admin work in advance such as providing their ID, estimated arrival time, and digital signatures for important documents. So once they arrive at your place they can get on with their stay. But some small properties worry about online check-in technology replacing the face-to-face interactions that make personal service possible.

This hesitation may come from the way self-service technology is already used elsewhere in the travel industry. Online check in has become the norm for airlines, for example, and travellers think nothing of providing passport numbers, printing their own boarding passes and checking in their own luggage. But just because human interaction has been minimised at airports, it doesn’t have to vanish from your property.

Embracing online hotel check-in at smaller properties

You might think of front desk check-in as a personal-service touch point, but this process isn’t always enjoyable for the guest. Instead it’s often an unavoidable step before they get to the main event: collapsing into bed, hitting the spa or just freshening up for the business meeting they’re in town for.

Apart from taking a copy of guests’ ID, check-in is also a chance to upsell services and experiences – and switching to online hotel check-in won’t change that interaction. In fact, by getting the admin headaches out of the way before arrival, you can dedicate that valuable face time to really getting to know your guests and what they want from their stay with you. That way you can use your local knowledge to give tailored recommendations that help you sell room upgrades, local event tickets and more.

What’s more, embracing online hotel check-in means arming yourself with valuable information about your guests’ preferences before they arrive. That buys you more time to roll out the red carpet by making sure their room is set up to impress, and extra facilities and services are prepared. Far from eradicating the personal touch, all of this helps you create an excellent first impression and exceed your guests’ expectations.

Guests value online hotel check-in

It’s true that conventional check-in isn’t a particular pain point for guests – that is, unless they face difficulties like long queues, payment problems or unhelpful staff, which can sour the experience and maybe even lead to a bad review. But the bottom line is that guests like online check-in, and offering it is your opportunity to wow them. According to Booking.com guest research, 79% of travellers rank quick and simple check-in as important, and many would book a property offering online check-in over another.

Saving time is a particular priority, since over a quarter of surveyed Booking.com guests say they’ve experienced a check-in that took more than five minutes. On the other hand, online check-in can take less than 60 seconds – and with guests potentially already tired, perhaps after a long journey, it can be a game-changer.

You can improve more than just the guest experience

There are business benefits to online hotel check-in beyond enhancing the guest experience. Less in-person admin at the front desk means fewer staff hours. In turn this saves money, frees you up to handle other tasks and could mean you no longer need to staff your reception 24 hours a day. Guests taking the time to provide you with information ahead of their arrival can also make them more committed to their stay – and reduce the risk of cancellations. That also cuts your number of unsold rooms and helps you retain more revenue.

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Personal service is a unique selling point for a smaller independent property, and it’s understandable to be cautious about taking on technology that could replace the valuable human touch in your operations. But the truth is that harnessing online check-in can strengthen the individual attention you give your guests.

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