The modern guest no longer accepts a 15-minute wait at the front desk to check in. Rather, they want to arrive on their own terms—and contactless check-in makes this possible.
On top of delighting your guests, digitizing and automating your processes helps you combat the growing shortage of skilled workers in the hospitality industry.
In this article, we evaluate the top contactless check-in solutions on the market today and walk through what you need to know about switching to digital self check-in at your hotel.
This article contains:
✓ An overview of what contactless check-in is
✓ The benefits of contactless check-in and how it will help your business
✓ How to implement contactless check-in, step-by-step
✓ A list of some of the best tools on the market today
Connect your operations
Adopting contactless check-in doesn’t have to mean overhauling all your locks. Operto makes digital access easy to launch and roll out, so you can free up your staff and exceed guest expectations.
What is contactless check-in?
Contactless check-in enables hotel guests to arrive and check in to their room without needing to pick up a room key, visit a check-in desk, or otherwise meet with staff face-to-face.
You can provide contactless check-in by sending your guests all the information they need for their arrival and room access via email, text, or in an app. This provides a platform for them to independently enter all the details you'd otherwise have to collect at the front desk.
Benefits of contactless check-in
If you’ve never used hotel check-in automation before and you’re wondering if it’s right for you and your hotel, it’s worth considering how the technology can streamline operations and enhance guest satisfaction.
Reduces your staffing needs
One of the biggest benefits of automated check-in systems is that they help you minimize the number of employees needed to keep your operations up and running. When you implement contactless check-in, you no longer have to staff a front desk with employees focused on transactional tasks like verifying guest information, managing payments, managing and distributing keycards, and carrying out the check-in process.
Frees up employees to focus on the guest experience
Online hotel check-in allows your existing front desk staff to engage in more meaningful ways with your guests. This means your team has the opportunity to actually greet your guests, learn about their hopes and needs, build a real rapport with them, and offer personalized recommendations and concierge services.
Creates a frictionless arrival experience
Contactless check-in isn’t just good for your operations—it’s fantastic for your guests. Standard hotel arrival and check-in processes require guests to wait in a line and fill in forms on arrival. With self check-in, guests can immediately start enjoying their stay.
So to be competitive, you need to meet modern guests’ expectations of minimal, streamlined interactions, and provide maximum convenience and ease throughout the pre-arrival and check-in process.
Gives your guests more flexibility and independence
By installing smart door locks for hotels and offering digital check-in, you give your guests more freedom. They can arrive on their own terms, and they don’t have to worry about where they put their plastic keycard.
Also, you can use the same platform for digital self check-in to provide information about your hotel and the local area. That way, guests can easily answer their own questions—just by consulting their smartphone.
Provides a more hygienic experience
Guests nowadays have higher standards than ever when it comes to hygiene and minimizing direct contact with staff.
In a 2020 study commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), 85% of travelers surveyed reported that using technology to reduce direct contact would increase their comfort level at a hotel.
So contactless check-in helps you make almost 90% of your guests feel more comfortable at your hotel.
Helps you reduce waste
Finally, contactless check-in can help you be a more environmentally-friendly operation. No more keycards helps you minimize plastic waste and reduce your carbon footprint.
And when you upgrade your hotel door locks with Operto Boost, your old locks don’t end up in a landfill. Instead, they get upgraded into smart locks that allow for contactless access and digital check-in.
How hotels can implement contactless check-in
It’s one thing to decide that contactless check-in will work for you. But it’s another entirely to actually get started. Fortunately, implementing contactless check-in at your hotel doesn’t have to halt your operations.
Different models for contactless check-in at hotels
Before deciding you want to get on board with online check-in for hotels, take a look at the different types of contactless check-in models that are available:
Kiosks make guests more independent
Guests check in using a kiosk in your lobby. Though guests don’t have to interact with your front desk, they may need staff support to manage the kiosk platform, they may need to wait in line to use the kiosk, and they have to interact physically with a touch screen that’s used by other guests. Though you can use kiosks to offer keyless entry, many still include the use of physical keycards.
Apps give guests the most control
Guests download a native app or access a web app to complete self check-in, normally before their arrival. For example, with Operto Guest, guests access a branded web app from a link using any device. They can then view your digital guidebook and complete check-in at their convenience.
6 easy steps for implementing contactless check-in
The installation and onboarding process for contactless check-in doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
Take a look at these six steps for implementing contactless check-in at your hotel:
1. Replace or update the locks at your hotel
To offer contactless check-in, you’ll need smart locks. You can either replace your locks, or simply update them with Operto Boost. That way, you can modify your existing locks within minutes and equip them with powerful BLE functionality.
2. Choose a check-in model and tool
Next, decide how you want to offer your guests contactless check-in. This can be using a kiosk in your lobby, requiring guests to download an app to their phone, or using a mobile-optimized web app guests can access via their smart device.
3. Integrate check-in with operations
Connect your check-in platform and smart locks with a centralized operating system. Now you have complete visibility over room status, can automate access codes for guests, and are able to manage operations in line with up-to-date booking information from your PMS.
4. Get your staff on board
It won’t be hard getting buy-in from your employees if they know contactless check-in will make their lives easier. Lay out the benefits of the technology, and set up a training session so your staff is equipped to help guests if they run into problems with digital check-in.
5. Offer an alternative to guests
Some guests may prefer using a traditional keycard rather than their phone to access their room. Operto Boost lets you make this option available to them—your locks maintain their RFID or magstripe capabilities so you can accommodate each and every guest.
6. Reinvent your lobby and front desk area
Once you’ve rolled out contactless check-in across your hotel, get creative and transform your lobby. Perhaps you could turn your front desk into a coffee bar, or set up collaborative workspaces for business travelers. This is where you can differentiate your hotel from the competition and add something truly unique to the guest experience.
Contactless check-in tools for hotels
With so many contactless tools on the market today, it can be tough to know which are reliable or will work best for your hotel and your existing hotel management software. Here are three contactless check-in tools for hotels that stand apart from the rest.
Operto is the full package, with a range of robust features tailored to hotel operations.
Going far beyond simple contactless access, it offers a true “hands-off” experience for the hotelier and has integrations with a wide range of property management systems and smart devices.
And with the Operto Guest web app, you’re able to offer your guests enhanced digital check-in, which includes ID verification and guest screening. Additionally, you can provide your guests with helpful digital guidebooks, making them more independent and minimizing the calls and questions you receive from them.
Plus, Operto allows you to adopt contactless access without having to replace all your existing locks. Operto Boost is capable of transforming just about any keycard lock on the market into a Bluetooth device equipped with mobile key capabilities.
So whether you want to upgrade your old keycard locks, are looking to replace them, or are simply seeking a software solution that can connect to your existing smart locks, Operto is the solution.
Truly contactless—automatically sends unique access codes via the guest portal.
Allows managers to oversee the entirety of their operations within an intuitive, well-designed platform.
Guest portals are fully customized to your brand and require no custom development work.
No native mobile app is needed, which is a major advantage for guests who would prefer not to download another app.
Enhanced digital check-in with built-in guest screening
Digital guidebooks and two-way messaging to enhance the guest experience
Works with a range of powerful smart locks, including Salto, Yale, August, Nuki, and Schlage.
Connects to a number of PMS solutions, including Mews, Cloudbeds, and RMS, to automatically pull reservation information from arriving guests.
Also compatible with various in-room smart devices, including the Ecobee thermostat and NoiseAware occupancy and noise monitoring device.
Virdee gives you the flexibility to offer check-in to your guests in a number of ways. It offers both mobile check-in and kiosk format, often used together to give guests various options upon arrival.
Using a Virdee kiosk, guests can check in, verify their ID, make credit card payments, request a room upgrade, and print keys. When they use the mobile version of Virdee, they will receive a digital key for contactless access to their room.
- Contactless check-in using the mobile or kiosk version
- Mobile and physical key options
- ID verification, payment, and room upgrade capabilities
- 24/7 remote assistance
- Connects with numerous PMS providers, including Cloudbeds, HotelKey, and Mews
- Works with a number of smart locks, like Yale and ASSA ABLOY
- Can be used with payment platforms like FreedomPay, Shift4, Square, and Stripe
Canary Technologies lets you give your guests convenient contactless check-in on their mobile device. Guests automatically receive a link via email or text message with all the information they’ll need to check in.
Then, guests submit their personal information for ID verification, and once everything’s clear, they receive their mobile key. Additionally, you can provide physical keys to guests who would prefer one or if you aren’t yet operating with smart locks.
Automatically shares check-in link with guests
Fraud detection and ID verification capabilities
Upsell options upon arrival
Allows for contactless check-out as well
Connects with numerous PMS providers, including Cloudbeds, HotelKey, and RMS
Compatible with various smart locks, such as Salto and ASSA ABLOY
Works with payment platforms like Shift4 and FreedomPay
Contactless check-in: Finding the right solution for your hotel
A lot of energy goes into a manual check-in process. If you’re still working on a system that requires guests to line up at the front desks and employees to manually check guests in, there’s a better way.
By operating as a contactless hotel, you can redirect your employees to other tasks that have a bigger impact on the guest experience, and your guests will love the flexibility and convenience it provides.The best part is it’s easier than you think—Operto Boost lets you offer keyless entry and digital check-in by upgrading your locks in minutes. Then you can connect your smart locks with your PMS via a centralized operating system and start directly competing with the Marriots and Hiltons of the world.
Connect your operations
Adopting contactless check-in doesn’t have to mean overhauling all your locks. Operto makes digital access easy to launch and roll out, so you can free up your staff while exceeding guests’ expectations.
Frequently asked questions about contactless check-in for hotels
How can I improve my hotel check-in process?
You can improve your hotel check-in process by making the arrival experience smoother and quicker for your guests. One of the best ways to do this is with contactless check-in for hotels. This allows your guests to avoid long lines upon arrival and enjoy the flexibility of digital check-in.
Should I do mobile check-in for my hotel?
Implementing mobile check-in at your hotel is great for guests and takes pressure off your front desk. The good news is that the cost of changing to mobile check-in doesn’t have to be prohibitive or time-consuming, even if you have decades-old locks. With Operto Boost, for example, you can update your old locks within minutes and start offering mobile check-in to your guests with specialized software for hotels.
What are the advantages of self check-in?
Hotel self check-in gives your guests the flexibility and freedom to check in on their own terms. Plus, they no longer have to wait in long lines at your reception desk upon arrival. Additionally, mobile check-in reduces your staffing needs and frees up the team to focus on tasks that have a bigger impact on the guest experience.