***Guest post from Akia, a WebRezPro partner***
What is online check-in?
While traditional registration involves filling out forms at the front desk, online check-in is a streamlined way to welcome guests. Hotel online check-in enables guests to complete a contactless check-in process before they arrive at the hotel. This process enables guests to either skip the front desk check-in completely or simply just grab their keys and go to their rooms.
Changing guest expectations have led to the evolution of hotel technology over time. Online registration is a great way to increase operational efficiency, improve guest experiences, and boost guest satisfaction and ratings online. To showcase that, here are ten reasons why you should adopt online check-in at your hotel.
1. Check-in becomes more efficient.
A typical hotel check-in process can take around five minutes. That amount of time might not sound too bad, but if every check-in process takes about five minutes and there’s a long line of guests waiting to check in, wait times can really add up.
With online registration, the amount of time it takes a guest to check in is cut down significantly. There is no need for guests to read through and fill out forms or pull out various documents during check-in, since those processes can easily be completed digitally and with no contact before they even arrive on the property. Not only does check-in become much more efficient, but wait times for guests are also reduced.
2. Lines are shorter at the front desk.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never liked waiting in line. Unfortunately, many good things in life require waiting in line, and checking into a nice hotel where you’ll be staying for your vacation is one occasion. Long lines at hotel front desks can be even more prominent in popular tourist destinations, during peak travel seasons, or at larger hotels.
For guests, standing in a long line to check into a hotel can be a frustrating start to a trip. Don’t let long lines be the first experience at your hotel; shorten lines at the front desk with digital registration, streamlining the overall check-in process and providing better customer service.
3. Guests and hotel staff can avoid close-contact interactions.
By now, everyone knows that social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings is important in preventing further spread of COVID-19. Interactions like checking in and out at the front desk can be risky, given that hotel employees and guests could be within six feet of each other and indoors. Even with mask policies and barriers set up, it is still ideal to avoid those interactions as much as possible.
With online and contactless check-in, guests don’t need to linger at the front desk. Hotels can avoid close-contact interactions by adopting digital registration, where guests can complete most of the check-in process from a distance.
4. Guests can agree to hotel policies and waivers.
Does your hotel have special policies that you need guests to agree to? Perhaps your hotel has a strict rule about no smoking on property, or you run a ski rental program and you need guests to sign waivers beforehand.
Regardless of the case, online registration can be used to easily have guests sign agreements and waivers, and your property can readily access those documents online.
5. Hotels can screen for symptoms before guests arrive at the property.
As another safety precaution, hotels can screen guests for symptoms of COVID-19 before they step onto the property by using online registration.
Guests can sign forms affirming that they haven’t experienced any symptoms of the virus, haven’t been in contact with anyone who tested positive, and haven’t been traveling to other places recently. Allow your staff and other guests to feel safe inside the property through signed agreements like these.
6. Hotels can collect all necessary information from guests.
Instead of asking for driver’s licenses and additional information at the front desk, hotels can request that information digitally and save time during check-in. Whenever hotels need to reference a guest’s information during their stay, employees can simply check the guest’s digital registration card and find it there.
By having other information like check-in estimates and room details from the registration forms, hotels can also upsell guests to early check-ins and room upgrades, creating more opportunities to optimize revenue.
7. Employees can use their time more effectively.
Not only can online registration speed up check-in processes for guests, but it can also free up time for hotel staff. Instead of spending a great deal of time on checking in guests, staff members could focus on other important tasks, such as answering questions, following through on requests, and creating more personalized experiences for guests.
Greater operational efficiency opens up opportunities for better service. Allow your staff to use their time more effectively by implementing digital check-in processes.
8. Guests can get to their rooms as soon as possible.
Imagine that a guest is finally arriving at your hotel after a long trip. They may have flown in and had to deal with all the long airport procedures. They may have taken a train or bus ride, where they had to sit rather uncomfortably for a while. Or they took a road trip, and after a long day of driving, all they want to do is take a break and relax.
As hospitality experts, you know that guests can be very tired after traveling, and they want to get the check-in process over with quickly and go up to their hotel room as soon as possible.
With this process, guests can easily sign agreements and attach any relevant documents before they even arrive at the hotel. They could even fill out all necessary information on their mobile device while they’re waiting for their baggage at the airport or in the middle of that long train ride. Once they arrive at your hotel, they can quickly get their room keys, settle into their rooms, and relax.
9. The guest experience is improved.
Ever since the pandemic began, guest expectations have changed. Rather than high-touch hospitality, travelers look for safety precautions and contactless service.
Since online check-in cuts down close-contact interactions between hotel staff and guests, this digital process can meet new guest expectations and improve the guest experience. Guests can relax, knowing that they’re staying distant from other people during their stay.
Aside from contactless service, some people simply prefer less social contact and want to be undisturbed during their stay. Having the capability for online registration can give guests the option to cut down in-person interactions in general and enable more reserved guests to relax and enjoy their stay in their own way.
10. Hotels can increase their online ratings.
Great contactless hotel experiences make for happy guests during these times, and happy guests can become positive reviewers. Your satisfied guests can reassure prospective guests about the social distancing procedures in place and their overall comfort during their stay.
Online reviews from places such as TripAdvisor or Google Reviews can have a direct impact on hotel bookings, given that around 90% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. Especially in times when occupancy is already much lower than usual, hotels need to leverage a good reputation to get more bookings and increase their hotel revenue.
Akia is an artificial intelligence-powered hotel messaging service that enables hotels to streamline operations and facilitate contactless options for check-in, on-property communications, and reputation management. With the mission of improving hotel operations and guest experiences, Akia recently released an in-stay surveys feature to help hotels capture feedback from guests and address issues via service recovery while guests are on the property. Akia was founded in 2018 by a team of former Facebook engineers with backgrounds in machine learning and consumer messaging.