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Online check-in basics

Online check-in. What is it? Why is it important? There are various softwares available, all offer something different. This article will guide you through the basics so you can learn and decide for yourself what is best for your hotel at the moment. 

Guests’ needs are rapidly changing, all generations own smartphones, have email addresses and social media by now. And with that guest expectations about your hotel are changing too. Technology is not just an addition, it’s a must at a property in 2021.

What is online check-in? 

It is regular check-in made online. All the information your country and your hotel requires from a tourist are put into an online system and transferred to your property before the guest arrives.
All the information here really means all, including passport or ID card scan, signature and even a face scan/real-time photo if you would like to have it. 

Why is it important? 

If you want the quick answer, let us put it for you in bullet points: 

  • Social distancing
  • More hygienic
  • Faster
  • Modern
  • Saves labour for both you and your customer
  • Can be done at any time on any device
Check-in kiosks in a hotel

Now the long answer. Why is this technology crucial in hospitality, and what does it bring to your property? 

Firstly, we are living through a pandemic, people are worried about hygiene and safety standards and most of us are not comfortable with close contact with strangers. We wrote more on Covid aid for your hotel here and here

Secondly, do you remember how online check-in revolutionized the airline industry? How we stopped queuing up and just started checking in on our phones/computers at home a day before the flight? That’s what online-check in can do to your hotel. 

  • Reduce lines
  • Speed up or entirely eliminate the processes at your front desk
  • Staff can now focus on other tasks

And overall make these things hassle and paper-free, giving the guest a more modern and less burdensome way to check-in.

Guests usually arrive tired and are in need of a rest, or arrive ready to hit the town and explore the surroundings. Give them a fast check-in experience, and they will definitely feel better about their arrival.

If you are freeing staff up from check-in procedures, they can focus on other (possibly more important) duties. For example, they can spend more time actually engaging with guests. This way you can learn first hand what they like and don’t like in your property.

The “traditional” reception

Another aspect to consider is flexible check-in hours. As a hotelier, you need to compete with Airbnb, and many others on the market. The ‘enemy’ almost always have 24-7 check-in.

So where do you go from here?

Start thinking about how would this change your hotel and your staff’s work. Start thinking about what kind of solutions can you easily implement, what are the options out there, which one you can afford and which one has an integration with your PMS or messaging system.

Room codes are very easily distributed via emails or text messages, while key cards still need to be picked up at the front desk. These messages could:

  • Specify your property’s check-in and check-out times
  • Enable guests to alert you to their check-in time
  • See your check-ins and check-outs for the day
  • Allow guests to check-in ahead of time
  • Process check out payments and print/email invoices
  • Send pre-check in and post check-out emails (source)

You do not even need a hotel check-in system, your PMS, CRM or Upselling tool should be able to do that for you.

If you are ready to take the next step read the article our CEO, Alar has written. He summarized all the different products out there for you with pros and cons, including his professional opinion.

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