The pandemic and lockdowns have left a definite mark on the hospitality industry: most hotels around the world experienced a decline in revenue and occupancy levels, as well as the loss of trained staff.
Now, that the isolation requirements and travel restrictions have been lifted, hotels are facing a tourist surge, that is putting them in a challenging position. The demand is back, but finding qualified employees can be difficult. Therefore, recovering from that low point in an efficient and quick manner is essential for staying competitive and continuing to provide excellent customer service.
This is where leveraging technology can come in handy: digitalising standard procedures gives guests the possibility to use all hotel services at their convenience, reduces reliance on the front desk, and allows reception staff to interact with guests to provide personalised information, advice, and offers tailored services to meet their specific needs.
Top 5 reasons why hotels should offer online check-in:
Saving time and resources: Checking in online eliminates the need for guests to stop at the front desk and wait in line. The majority of guests prefer self-service over waiting to be served. In addition, when guests check-in online, the front desk’s workload is reduced as all data is moved automatically to hotel PMS without any manual work. Technology allows hotels to automate processes and reduce operational and personnel costs.
Making it easy and convenient: Checking in online allows the guest to provide all necessary information prior to their arrival, from the comfort of their home, just like checking in on a flight. Guests will receive their room number and digital keys via e-mail and text message, allowing them to enter their room using their smartphones.
Reduces dependency on staff: In times of staff shortage, online check-in relieves pressure on front-desk staff while providing guests a quick and seamless check-in experience they desire. It is a great way for hotels to offer a contactless solution, thus reducing the risks of virus transmission and increasing safety and hygiene in their facilities.
Selling extra services: Hotels that offer online check-in can use guest data to make personalised offers and sell extra services like transfers, tours or room upgrades to guests while they are planning their stay. Online check-in is usually completed in a relaxed setting when people are more likely to browse and order services online as they perceive offers and upsells as a choice, not as a hard sell. As a result, conversion rates rise significantly.
Enhancing the guest experience: Using technology to automate time-consuming paperwork gives the front desk staff more time and opportunities to connect with customers on another level to provide a more personalised service. Technology allows collecting customer information more efficiently, thereby improving the quality of services offered by providing a modern and cutting-edge experience.
What are hoteliers saying about digitalisation?
A Stayntouch/NYU Tisch Center of Hospitality survey conducted October–November 2021 revealed that 81.7% of the 525 hotels surveyed had already deployed at least one new technology during the pandemic and/or had plans to do so in 2022. Self-service check-in was the technological innovation that grew the fastest during the pandemic.
According to hoteliers surveyed, technology enabled them to enhance the guest experience, and hotels should offer contactless experiences as an option to hotel guests so that the customers can choose what is best for them.
What are guests saying?
People’s familiarity with online services has increased as a result of the pandemic, and surveys show that many people now expect hotels to offer online check-in and digital keys instead of filling out paperwork as part of the standard check-in process.
When arriving at a hotel, business guests expect quick and easy access to their room; millennials and new generations who have grown up texting and buying everything online expect service providers to have easy-to-use and up-to-date technology.
According to a survey conducted by Hotels.com, 70% of guests prefer to use their smartphone to expedite check-in and services, and 67% of travellers are more likely to choose a hotel that allows guests to check in and open doors with a smartphone.
Adoption of cutting-edge technologies can therefore improve hotel's reputation in the eyes of customers. Hotels that offer innovative online services can be seen as more modern, reliable, and aligned with customer needs. Offering a state-of-the-art digital experience can increase customer loyalty.
How can Hotelbuddy help?
Hotelbuddy provides hotels with a complete solution that integrates with the hotel’s PMS and invites guests to use their mobile phone to check in, book extra services, prepay prior to their arrival, open room doors and much more! Using the Hotelbuddy web-based solution, the guests do not need to download any apps on their phones to access the self-service area.
To summarise, the adoption of contactless technology such as self-check-in is a trend that is expected to continue throughout 2023 and beyond as more hotels move towards digitalisation to improve the guest experience and meet evolving demands for prompt hassle-free solutions during their travel.