Contactless check-in for hotels: Benefits and tools

Imagine getting to your hotel after a long day of travel. You’re tired, but there’s a long line at the hotel check-in desk that puts your room out of reach for more than 15 minutes. Or worse, maybe you arrive after hours, and the clerk isn’t even at the desk. Both of these scenarios are likely to leave you frustrated — something most hotel owners strive to avoid.

The hotel check-in process should be quick and simple, and, most important of all, stress-free. After all, who wants to start their hotel stay by standing in line waiting to get their room keys? Switching to a contactless check-in process can make arrivals easier for both hoteliers and guests alike.

Keep reading for a full explanation of contactless check-in, including how it works, why your hotel should consider it, and what tools can help you implement it.

Contactless check-in: What it is and how it works

Contactless check-in is a process that allows hotel guests to register and enter their rooms without needing to interact face-to-face with a hotel employee.

In a traditional check-in process, hotel guests speak with a clerk at the front desk when they arrive. During this process, the hotel employee typically needs to confirm the guest’s identity and ask for a payment method, such as a credit card. The guest receives their room number and a key to their room.

In a contactless check-in process, all these steps are handled without the need for a hotel employee.

To use contactless check-in, hotels need specialty software to facilitate all or some of the steps in the process. The guest can access the software through a kiosk, by scanning a QR code with their smartphone, or by going to a specific URL. Then, the guest can fill in the information the hotel requires, such as their name and credit card details.

Depending on the hotel’s door-locking system, the check-in software may either provide a door code for a specific room or direct the guest to pick up a physical key from a lockbox. Guests can complete contactless check-in before they arrive at the hotel or when they first enter the building.

“With a traditional check-in process, oftentimes the hotel staff is left checking in each guest manually as they come in, creating long lines and overwhelming employees,” says Shane Mahoney, CEO and founder of Lugos Travel, which offers custom travel and tour concierge services. “When my clients arrive at their hotels, they are often exhausted from their travels or just want to get their vacation started, so the last thing they want to do is stand in a check-in line for over an hour.”

“Hotel guests ultimately want efficiency and convenience,” he adds, “so if they’re able to check-in ahead of time in a contactless manner, this will allow more time for guests to enjoy their vacation, while allowing staff members to be able to continue providing excellent service.”

The benefits of contactless check-in

Implementing a contactless check-in system involves a lot of planning: You’ll need to choose the right software, train hotel staff, provide a set of directions for guests, and determine how you’ll troubleshoot any issues that might arise.

So why do it? You can realize a lot of benefits by having a contactless check-in process set up. Here are just a few:

  • Optimized staffing: You won’t need to schedule staff members to sit at the front desk. This may reduce your labor costs or help you better position your staff in other areas. For example, instead of having a clerk at the front desk, you might instead have a full-time concierge to help enhance your guests’ travel experiences.
  • Increased security: “In this day and age, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your identity and personal information,” says Mahoney. “Contactless check-ins have highly advanced technology in place to prevent fraud and ensure a safe hotel registration process, while traditional check-in methods have a myriad of ways in which the personal information of their guests could be compromised.”
  • Better hygiene: COVID-19 reminded us all that viruses spread when people come into close contact with one another. This doesn’t only apply to the coronavirus, but also to any kind of respiratory virus such as the flu or RSV. In order to protect both staff and guests, contactless check-in helps limit the spread of germs.
  • Streamlined experience: Contactless check-in eliminates the wait guests often have to go through before they can speak with a hotel clerk. That means guests can begin their stay at the hotel sooner.
  • More flexibility: With contactless check-in, guests don’t need to worry about arriving or leaving at a certain time. They can come and go as they please because the software is always accessible.

Tools for creating a contactless check-in process at your hotel

To create a smooth and seamless check-in experience, you need the right software. Here’s a list of commonly used options.

1. Jotform

Jotform has numerous contactless check-in form templates to choose from, or you can easily create one of your own from scratch. Our fully-customizable templates include a hotel check-in form, hotel guest registration form, sign-in sheet, hotel manager forms, check-in/check-out form, and more. You can also use Jotform to create QR codes and mobile forms, and you can even accept online payments from guests for their hotel stays.

Jotform is also handy for a number of other crucial hotel processes, such as generating invoices for partners and vendors or conducting guest or employee surveys.

2. Easyway

Easyway Landing Page

Easyway allows you to create a personalized check-in process for guests. With this tool, hotels can confirm guest identity through passport scans and digital signatures, and collect special instructions from guests during the check-in process. It can also perform check-outs, collect payment information, send pre-arrival messages to guests with detailed information about their booking, and communicate information to guests via chat or email during their stay.

3. Operto

Operto Landing Page

Operto offers hands-off technology for hotels and property managers. Important features for contactless check-in include identification verification, digital check-in and checkout processes, digital guidebooks, and much more. Operto also allows hotels to transform a traditional keycard lock to a Bluetooth device for mobile key functionality, so they don’t have to replace their existing locks on room doors. Hotels can fully customize the guest portal in Operto to match their brand for a seamless experience.

4. Virdee

Virdee Landing Page

Virdee is virtual reception software that works in a variety of locations, from hotels and event venues to businesses. This software has a mobile, contactless option, but users can also access it through a physical kiosk at a hotel location.

Hotels can verify guest identities with Virdee by asking them to scan their passports or driver’s licenses, and they can offer room upgrades and additional amenities based on guest status. The software integrates with payment platforms as well as smart lock providers.

5. INTELITY Mobile Check-In

INTELITY Mobile Check-In Landing Page

INTELITY Mobile Check-In enables guests to bypass the front desk for both check-in and check-out processes. With this software, hotels can confirm the guest’s reservation, verify their identification, accept payment, and activate a mobile key.

Hotels can eliminate the cost of physical hotel keys and free up their staff’s time to focus on other aspects of the guest experience. Plus, guests don’t need to check in while at the hotel — they can do so from anywhere with INTELITY Mobile Check-In.

Contactless check-in: A better experience for guests and hotels

The check-in process is cumbersome for guests, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming for employees, especially when there’s a line of exhausted guests impatiently waiting to check in.

“Contactless check-in ultimately provides many benefits to the business and brand,” says Mahoney. “It’s much safer than traditional check-in processes (and we know credit card theft is a major safety concern these days!), and hotel guests will be happy because the check-in process is much quicker and more efficient, thus allowing them time to jump-start their vacation or rest time.

“The hotel employees will not be so stressed and overwhelmed with long lines at the check-in counter, and they can finally concentrate on more favorable duties such as providing excellent customer service to their guests. The pros [of contactless check-in] definitely outweigh the cons.”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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