Demands and expectations of hotel guests are accelerating fast over the last couple of years and so does the development of hospitality technology. While it’s still a big cultural challenge for hoteliers, guests are able to adapt relatively quickly due to rapid technological change in the other industries.
Whether it’s small family-driven hotels, hotel groups, or large hotel enterprises, the use of technology enhances guests’ experience and improves hotel business operations in many ways. While it’s now hard to imagine a hotel room without a TV, every evolution of this kind was empowered by industry leaders who understood the importance of adapting to new technology.
Guest Demand is Changing
Nowadays it’s all about convenience but people still expect a personal interaction that will make them feel valued, which is in the end the essence of hospitality. Online pre-arrival check-in at a hotel is a great example of merging these two elements together. Guests are already heavily dependent on their mobile devices to book a flight ticket, hotel stay, or just to research their destination.
For the early adaptors who make use of pre-arrival check-in, saving time, avoiding queues, and making sure the booking went through and the reservation is “set in stone” are the main drivers and advantages they are looking for. Guests are familiar with online check-in from the airline industry for decades and therefore this transformation in the hotel industry is just something they can adapt to very quickly. Hoteliers need to be aware of the fact that it’s not a completely new change of behavior but rather just an adaptation.
Cutting the Administrative Work to Create More Time for Personal Interaction
There is a thin line between using technology and offering face-to-face related service and hoteliers need to understand this to boost the guest experience. By using the right technology hotels can save time in administrative work resulting in increased efficiency and creating more time for personalization and personal interaction with guests.
Removing pain points from the guest journey like paperwork and reception queues, and letting the guests be in charge of their stay, or even better letting them decide when they want to do the “boring” paperwork part can only contribute positively to their overall experience. It’s not a secret that the guest experience starts already from the time they book their stay and not once they arrive at a hotel. It should be in the hotelier’s interest to make this experience smooth and seamless from the very beginning when the guest books their stay.
Implementing new technology to the current tech stack like online check-in doesn’t mean one needs to adapt their hotel to be completely digital, but rather see it as giving their guests a possibility to choose from and let them slowly adapt to this change.
What to Consider Before Implementing Online Check-in
Whether implementing new technology to the hotel’s current tech stack or not, it’s usually in the hands of the top management. However, the hotel owners and management should talk to the ones who will be affected the most, which is the front office.
Most of the Front Desk Clerks don’t like the robot-like tasks - explaining the same information about the hotel’s facilities, drawing a circle on a piece of paper for the guest to confirm and fill out the registration form and lastly, shouting out “next in line please”. The Front Office Staff wants to know the guests and be able to influence their stay by recommending them interesting places to see or where to find a cozy coffee shop in the area around.
There is also a misconception that implementing such a service can cost a lot of time and money. Most SaaS (red. Software as a Service) solutions are more or less plug-and-play to the existing tech stack. Hardware is rarely a deal breaker for a hotel to offer such a service as online check-in.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frederik Møller is the Global Director of Sales at AeroGuest, an end-to-end SaaS platform connected to the entire hospitality industry providing everything the guests need before, during, and after a hotel stay. Frederik is a former hotelier and hospitality expert with a massive hotel experience and passion for guest tech and mobile commerce. Class of 2021 Berlingske's Talent 100, which has selected the business community’s up and coming stars based on portraits of 100 carefully selected talents.