Hotel check-in is a moment of truth in the customer journey. It’s your chance to make a great first impression or leave customers with a lingering feeling that they may not have made the best choice.
The reality is that for a smooth check-in to happen, there are other many moving parts that need to come together including a warm welcome; the technology in use and the communication between the housekeeping team that means the front desk have the latest information on available rooms.
Simon Hedaux, Founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity lists his top tips to help hotel brands deliver an efficient check-in that meets customer expectations and is cost effective for the brand – and spoiler alert – it involves the increasing use of technology.
How to boost hotel check-in efficiency
- Technology and self-check-in – For premium hotels, the personal check of a seated customer at a plush desk is important. For most guests and hotel brands, efficiency with a smile is the preferred approach. Self-check-in terminals are a great option, putting the customer in control and meaning one colleague can look after multiple customers at a time. Customers are increasingly using self-serve kiosks everywhere from their local supermarket and ordering a burger at McDonald’s to checking in at the airport when they go on holiday. Self-check-in makes sense for you and your customers and if you haven’t considered it already, what are you waiting for?
- Team planning – whatever your hotel check-in model is, you need to make sure you have the right number of colleagues available at the right time. It undermines your customer experience delivery when a guest has to join a long queue at a big reception desk with only one service point open. Your challenge is to have enough people at peak hotel check-in times and to scale back the team for quieter times. Our experience is that a lot of money can be spent covering reception for the quiet periods of the day. Solutions we’ve seen are having admin workstations at reception; combining reception with the bar/café area, self-check-in technology and a buzzer to call for help in smaller hotels. The right option will vary depending on your customer offer. Add up your spend on reception at quiet times to quantify the size of your opportunity and consider how better the salary budget could be used.
- Housekeeping link – a slick link with housekeeping is essential to save customers having to wait while a call out to housekeeping confirms if a room is ready or not. Technology, again, is becoming the answer and a tablet or phone app is the accessory of choice for housekeepers to report that a room is ready. Multiple phone or radio calls, texts or at worst, running backwards and forwards to reception with a handwritten list are time-consuming and ready for a process update.
- Bags – where is your bag store? City centre hotels, where customers arrive early and drop off bags or want to leave them with you from check out to going home time, look after a lot of customers’ bags. Challenges to efficient bag store include stores that are a long way from reception and spaces that are just too small for efficient storage and retrieval. Ever gone hunting for a black suitcase with a small number attached to it in a room stacked full of them? The ideal is a secure space as close as possible to reception with enough room and a system that means it is quick and easy to find a bag when you need it. Or, consider the self-serve locker option.
- And finally – apply the same rigour to check-out as you do to check-in. There are the same opportunities to make it slick and efficient for the customer and to let housekeeping know which rooms are ready for cleaning. Do you make it easy for customers to check-out quickly? We often see the key drop off box tucked out of the way, so customers don’t spot it. And all those customers who queue up to check out at the desk when they don’t need to? You are wasting their time as well as your own.
Look hard at your hotel check-in and check out moments of truth and apply these top tips so check-in works for you and your guests.