Hotel Check-In: How to Set Up An Ideal Check-in Process

Imagine this scenario: your guest wakes up before sunrise to catch a flight. They wait in long lines at the airport, and spend the entire flight with a crying baby. And then they’re delayed at baggage claim.

The last thing they want to do is wait in another line so they can check into their hotel room. So, what if they didn't have to? 

Imagine that your guest's first experience at your hotel is an optimized check-in process where they can immediately start enjoying their stay, instead of being stuck in a line—creating a first impression that's more likely to lead to glowing reviews and repeat bookings.

By utilizing hotel check-in software and guest-facing apps, you can automate check-ins, offer greater flexibility to guests, and give them control over how they begin their vacation—which can also reduce your front desk staffing needs. So now to find how. 

In this post, we give you the ultimate guide to setting up an efficient check-in process and creating an experience your guests will love.

Want to put an end to the long lines at your front desk? 

Automate your check-in process with Operto.

Hotel check-in and the guest experience

Balancing the efficiency of your business with your guests’ needs is often a struggle for hotels. This is true especially when it comes to the check-in process.

How can you set up your check-ins in a way that makes sense for your business, helps you get better reviews and more direct bookings, while also providing an exceptional experience for your guests?

A long check-in wait may have a negative impact on the guest experience. And without a fantastic guest experience from start to finish, you risk missing out on five-star reviews and repeat bookings.

According to this study, your hotel’s check-in experience should: 

  • Take five minutes or less
  • Be accurate
  • Include a warm welcome

When any of these baseline criteria aren’t met, guest satisfaction scores can fall. 

However, streamlining your check-in process and offering an efficient and accurate experience right out the gate, doesn’t just make your guests happy. It also frees up staff time, professionalizes your services, and decreases your costs.

So with that being said, why not make some easy upgrades to your check-in process to start not only meeting, but also exceeding your guest expectations?

Why update the check-in process for hotels?

Traditional check-in processes don’t allow for hotels to meet the changing needs and expectations of modern guests, who want to arrive when they arrive, and have a stress-free start to their vacation with minimal contact with staff. Also, traditional front desk operations are complex and staff-dependent. 

Despite these problems, many hoteliers are hesitant to update their check-in processes. This could be because: 

  • They don’t want guests to have a faceless experience
  • Updating processes requires a large investment of time and money
  • They’re concerned about the investment of time and money associated with updating processes.
  • They believe implementing online check-in for hotels requires them to be tech-savvy
  • They’ve previously had bad experiences with hotel automation

But, hotel check-in automation doesn’t have to be faceless and cold—and it doesn’t have to require a large investment of time and money. For example, Operto offers simple, affordable technology solutions, and you can still have a small number of staff available on-site to complement the tech.

Why provide a guest-facing hotel check-in app?

A white-label hotel check-in app gives guests real flexibility and control over the vacation experience, allowing for a contactless check-in process. It also gives your hotel the chance to build a better relationship with the guest and even offer additional services.

Once your guests confirm their booking, they will receive a link to use the Operto Guest app. Through the app, they can view all the amenities, facilities, and services your hotel provides, and maintain straightforward in-app communication with you throughout.

By incorporating a hospitality app into your software solution and offering flexibility, you provide your guest with the opportunity to customize their stay by putting control in the palm of their hand.

What are the benefits of hotel check-in software and guest-facing apps?

The main benefits of hotel check-in software and guest-facing apps include: 

  • Streamlined operations
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased revenue 
  • Improved guest experience 

Now let’s dive deeper into each of these benefits.

Streamlined operations

With a software solution in place, you can automate the check-in process so booking management, guest verification, payment, and even access is handled pre-arrival. This takes the pressure off your front desk operations allowing staff to focus on providing better personalized attention.

Reduced Costs

With automated processes and hotel keyless entry, you can reduce your front desk staffing costs, and your team won't lose time to repetitive manual tasks like managing key cards or providing forms for guests to sign on arrival.

Pre-arrival upsells

With a guest-facing app, you have a platform where you can offer additional services during pre-arrival, like room upgrades, memberships, tours, and additional in-room services.

Improved guest experience

Instead of photocopying driving licenses and swiping credit cards, contactless check-in for hotels means staff can take on more of a concierge role and give guests the welcome they expect.

How to set up a flexible hotel check-in policy 

Flexible check-in is increasingly a baseline expectation for guests, and a software solution like Operto can help hoteliers make it a reality.

With a truly flexible hotel check-in policy, guests can check in pre-arrival and enjoy a frictionless start to their vacation. And with the right tech, you won’t lose any visibility over when guests arrive.

Now let’s look at how you can set up your flexible hotel check-in policy.

Automate the check-in process

In order to set up a flexible hotel check-in process, your smart locks and PMS are integrated with Operto. 

When a guest books a room, Operto’s software solution allocates their room automatically based on the guests’ preferences and hotel availability. Operto Tech then auto-generates temporary access codes, which are sent to the guests through the Guest app.

When a guest books a room and Operto receives the reservation details from the PMS, a temporary access code is automatically generated by the Operto Connect dashboard and communicated to the guest through either the Guest app or pre-set messaging.

Use software, such as Operto Connect, that allows you to create a seamless check-in experience, so that with each booking:

  • The guest is welcomed via text or email, and provided access to their guest app
  • Check-in requirements and ID verification can be completed prior to arrival
  • Access codes are automatically generated for the duration of the guest's stay
  • These access codes are shared via the guest app or your preferred messaging channel
  • Note: 62% of hotel guests prefer to check into and out of their rooms using a hotel app.

Integrate your operations as part of the automated check-in/out process

Hotels are moving away from their traditional housekeeping workflow of fixed cleaning times. With flexible check-ins and the need to perform a deep clean for each stay, you need a flexible but dependable housekeeping solution.

So use scheduling software to connect with your PMS and automate a cleaning schedule around each booking so rooms are always ready on time.

Provide a white-label guest-facing app 

A white-label guest app isn’t only to welcome guests, automate check-in, and upsell your services. You can use your guest app to: 

  • Build a rapport with guests with friendly, personalized messaging about their stay
  • Give key information about their arrival, like transport options and parking
  • Share guides about what they can do at your hotel and throughout their vacation
  • Answer any questions they may have

Reinvent your front desk 

With automated digital check-in, you no longer need to fully staff the front desk. Instead, you can focus on providing the welcome your guests deserve.

You can approach modernizing your front desk in a variety of ways. You can:

  • Reduce front desk hours
    With more independent guests, you may only need to operate a front desk during the busiest periods
  • Broaden the scope of the front desk
    You could expand front desk duties to include room service and valet parking
  • Provide a hybrid approach
    This allows guests to choose between traditional and self check-ins
  • Offer a virtual front desk
    Here, you still handle guest questions and issues, but remotely, with dedicated staff who understand the software and communicate with guests within the app
  • Remove the front desk altogether
    With a self check-in process, you could turn this space into an information center, lounge, or bar.

Maintain visibility

Losing the front desk doesn’t mean losing visibility. It’s essential to maintain a full view of everything that’s happening on the ground, and with integrated smart locks, as well as other smart devices like thermostats and noise monitors, you’ll always know when guests have checked-in, and when a room is occupied or vacant.

Finding the ideal check-in solution for you and your guests

Flexible, contactless check-ins contribute to amazing vacation experiences that help you earn better reviews, boost repeat direct bookings, and reinvent your front desk.

To update your front desk and check-in processes, use software that connects your PMS to your smart locks, your guest app, and your operations.

After all, why just meet your guests’ expectations when you can surpass them?

Want to put an end to the long lines at your front desk? 

Automate your check-in process with Operto.

Frequently asked questions about hotel check-in

What is the process for hotel check-in?

Hotel check-in begins as soon as a guest’s booking is confirmed. So, while traditionally we think of check-in as being when guests arrive at the hotel, tasks like verifying ID, gathering payment information, and giving guests an introduction to the hotel, can all take place digitally, pre-arrival.

What are the benefits of digital check-in?

Digital check-in has the following benefits:

  • Operates a lean model and saves costs due to fewer staff per unit
  • Saves admin time and reduces error
  • Saves money by cutting out key and keycard replacement or deactivation costs
  • Streamlines hotel operations
  • Increases hotel revenue by giving hotels a competitive advantage
  • Enables in-app upselling opportunities for hotels
  • Improves the guest experience
  • Enables staff to become more efficient
  • Allows you to change access codes with each new guest

Why use hotel check-in software?

By using hotel check-in software, you: 

  • Allow the option of a contact-less check-in process

  • Verify guest identification in advance of arrival

  • Reduce front desk hours and labor costs

  • Improve the guest experience

  • Eliminate manual administrative tasks and paperwork