It’s a familiar story for today’s business traveller: that red-eye flight was delayed and jet lag is playing havoc with their body clock. The last thing a tired, frustrated executive now wants is an interminable, complicated check-in procedure and a long queue before he can speak to someone.
text: Lois Hoyal // photography: istock
One of the easiest ways to simplify the check-in process is to ditch paper and embrace technology instead. Remote virtual check-in, for example, can be web-based or via a mobile app – an ideal marketing vehicle with which to also target executives with real time-rates, offers and other deals, as well as providing on-the-go hotel check in.
Ever thought about introducing electronic signatures? These enable executives to access check-in via an online portal and remotely e-sign check-in forms. Guests can enjoy using iPads as part of the electronic signature service, with access to room reservations, registration and receipts.
Of course, self-service kiosks in the hotel lobby make for a highly efficient check-in system and cut down on manpower costs.
In addition, technology such as cloud-based property management systems can store guest data, bypassing the need for identity checks and allowing hoteliers to cater to guests’ room preferences and individual requirements. And at check-out cloud-based hotel reservation systems can automate billing processes, print bills for corporate accounts or easily split bills between guests sharing rooms.
Don’t forget that flexible check-in and check-out times are also important to travellers, even if you have to charge extra for them: typical 3 p.m. check-in times just don’t fit in with most executives’ travel schedules.
What’s ideal is to combine the personal touch with the efficiency of technology. Nelson Das Neves, who travels frequently for his work as a country coordinator for the European Patent Office was impressed when arriving at a hotel recently to receive complimentary chocolates, a small gift and some postcards to reward his use of the online check-in procedure. “The check-out procedure was similarly effortless – I just handed back the key and that was it.”
Avoid unnecessary additional paperwork if possible. “What I hate is spending time checking- in online and then arriving at the hotel and still having to fill out some forms: what’s the point of the online procedure?” Das Neves continues.
Tired guests might appreciate efficiency but more than ever they will value positive personal interaction. Greeting guests personally by name and with a pleasant smile will always make a good impression when they arrive at a hotel. Some guests might prefer checking-in and checking-out with real staff altogether instead of via an app or online and may want to avoid technology during their stay. And technology can also have glitches.
Technology can streamline service and save money but it also frees up time for hotel staff to liaise with guests, answer any queries or complaints and provide the ultimate in customer service and customer experience. Never forget the human touch.