Online Check-in For Hotels: It’s Easier Than You Think

The difficulty of sourcing and retaining experienced staff, higher labor costs, tight profit margins, and evolving guest expectations, all represent ongoing challenges across the hospitality industry. 

Here’s our recommendation: Implement online check-in to give guests the contactless experience they want and reduce your staffing needs. 

But to overhaul your hotel’s check-in process, you need to be aware of a number of key considerations. In this article, we’ll look at: 

  • How hotel online check-in works

  • The primary benefits of implementing an online check-in system

  • Potential obstacles to consider before implementing contactless check-in

  • How to implement digital access without replacing all your locks

Online check-in, digital guidebooks, and a modern guest experience—all packaged in a user-friendly branded web app.

How does online check-in work at hotels? 

Online check-in is self-service technology that lets hotel guests check in online and on their own terms. When combined with mobile key technology, guests can go through the entire pre-stay stage of their guest journey via a mobile or web app, from booking to room access, without requiring the assistance of any member of staff. 

When you offer online check-in, you build out a digital journey that, as we discuss below, enhances the guest experience while streamlining your internal operations. It allows guests to get information about their stay before they arrive, check in whenever is most convenient for them, and avoid lines at the front desk.
Image of the Operto Guest app showing check-in flow

With Operto, guests can verify their ID online, digitizing the check-in experience and giving them more flexibility over their stay.

What are the benefits of online check-in at hotels?

When you implement check-in automation at your hotel, you’ll enjoy a range of benefits, mainly in terms of the guest experience and your hotel operations. Take a look at some of the key advantages of implementing a digital check-in process. 

Increased guest autonomy

By making the guest journey contactless, you give guests more control over their stay. This improves the speed and ease of the guest arrival process, makes them more independent, and gives them more flexibility to customize their experience. 

Learn more: See how Roomza partnered with Operto to create a modern, autonomous guest experience through its innovative hotel model. Read the case study.

Pre-stay brand engagement

The guest engagement tool you use to enable online check-in can help your guests start interacting with your brand well before their stay. For example, with a guest app, they can browse your hotel services and start planning a spa day long before they arrive.


Lower cancellation rates

When guests interact with your digital guidebook, they won’t just see your amenities and room guide: They’ll also see your curated local guide and envision themselves enjoying a romantic dinner at your top restaurant recommendation. This makes them feel invested in their stay and less likely to cancel. 
Image of the Operto Guest web app showing welcome screen and room manual

The Operto Guest web app gives guests access to all the information they need about their stay ahead of time, from hotel amenities to local recommendations.

Better reviews

With a digital journey that cuts out front desk lines and the hassle of physical room keys, your guests will highlight the convenience and ease of their stay in their feedback. And because your team will have fewer administrative tasks to deal with, the level of hospitality they can provide will also shine through in reviews. 

Lighter workload at the front desk 

When guests aren’t lining up at the front desk to check in, your employees no longer have to spend the majority of their day swiping credit cards and verifying guests’ personal information. This lightened workload gives them more capacity to engage with guests with the care and attention that guests love. 

Better working conditions

The constant stress of answering phone calls and responding to emails while managing a lobby full of guests can result in staff turnover. Online check-in helps you give your employees better working conditions, which will in turn have an impact on retention rates. 

Improved team morale

Dealing with frustrated guests takes a toll on staff morale. But by implementing online check-in, you allow your team to have more positive, meaningful interactions with guests, improving their workplace experience. 

Reduced staffing costs

Because you no longer need to have multiple staff members to run the front desk at all times, online check-in plays a key role in optimizing your staffing needs and reducing costs.

Learn more: Discover how Prague Residences partnered with Operto to reduce their staffing costs by $10,000 per month with digital check-in. Read the case study. 

What you need to consider when taking your hotel check-in online

While online check-in may seem like a one-stop solution, there are a few things to keep in mind before implementing it at your hotel. 


You need a branded, fully customizable guest experience solution

To take full advantage of online check-in, you need to give guests a user-friendly solution that accompanies them at every step of their journey, from right after they've booked to room access. This includes pre-arrival communication, online check-in with ID verification and payment processing, and mobile key access. 

A solution like Operto Guest wraps all this up in a convenient mobile-optimized web app that lets your guests interact with your brand as soon as they book. You can give guests access to digital guidebooks as soon as they make their reservation, engaging them before they even arrive at your hotel. 

And come time to check in, it’s easy for guests to verify their ID and pay their security deposit on the web app, after which Operto automatically generates and shares their mobile key for contactless room access. 

Enable contactless access, digital check-in, and a modern guest experience, all within a branded guest experience platform.

Your old key card locks aren’t compatible with online check-in

If you want to offer online check-in, you need to be operating with smart locks. But replacing your RFID or magstripe locks with new locks is a costly, drawn-out process.

The good news is you don’t need to overhaul your locks to provide digital access. With Operto Boost, you can upgrade your existing locks in a fraction of the time, saving you thousands of dollars and potentially months in supply chain delays.
Image of the Operto Boost chip and an Operto mobile key

Operto Boost lets you offer mobile check-in and digital access without having to overhaul your locks.

Upgrade your old locks with Operto Boost to get:

  • Mobile key compatibility

  • Advanced access management

  • Seamless integration with the Operto Guest web app

  • Online check-in with automated ID verification and payment processing

  • Seamless integration with Operto’s suite of hotel automation solutions

  • An all-in-one manager’s dashboard

Upgrade your locks with Operto Boost and give your guests online check-in.

Some guests prefer a traditional front desk experience on arrival

While the modern guest prefers a contactless, independent experience, not all guests will feel comfortable checking in online. You may have some guests who struggle to interact with a digital platform, or customers who simply prefer to meet and speak with staff upon arrival. You need a solution for these guests, too.

With Operto Boost, your existing locks maintain their magstripe or RFID capabilities, so you can provide key cards to guests who prefer them over mobile key. That way, you can cater to each guest’s preferences. 

Offering digital check-in doesn’t remove the human element from your hotel. Streamlining your operations frees up staff to give more of their time and consideration to guests, build rapport, and understand their needs—which can become impossible with lines of guests waiting to be manually checked in.

Online check-in makes you more competitive

Online check-in helps you exceed the modern hotel guest’s expectations by giving them an independent, frictionless experience. And, at the same time as you improve the guest experience, you lighten the workload for your front desk staff and reduce your operating costs.  

To get all the benefits online check offers, you need hotel management software that automates mobile key generation and activation, but also accommodates guests who prefer a traditional arrival experience. This will allow you to fully streamline the arrival process, provide guests with autonomy and flexibility, and still listen to customers who aren’t looking for a contactless experience.

And, when you use Operto Boost’s cutting-edge technology to upgrade your locks instead of replacing them, you not only access the benefits of online check-in, but also the full range of automated solutions your management and on-the-ground team need to be a fully tech-enabled operation.

Online check-in, digital guidebooks, and a modern guest experience, packaged in a convenient branded web app.