Are You Failing at Hotel Check-In and Check-Out?

Hotel Check-In

Are you winning or losing your guests through your best intended efforts?

You’ve added technology, amenities, flavored water at check-in, and a Starbucks in the lobby – so why are you losing guests to the competitor? Are you trying too hard to be cutting edge and provide cool new amenities to your guests that they really don’t want?
Let’s discuss these great efforts and major fails.

Advanced Reservations Communications

Great pre-arrival emails with instructions on how to get to the property, what amenities are available, and an option to guarantee their room upon arrival … for a small fee.

LOSE A GUEST: Room configurations are never the same day-to-day. They arrive, and that room is not available until much later, creating frustration for the guest, who is wondering why they attempted this option in the first place.

WIN A GUEST: Exceed expectations by collecting estimated arrival time and have rooms assigned upon their arrival, with options for upgrades based on available rooms at arrival.

Automatic Check-In Kiosks

Skip the line and check in online or at our kiosk. Sounds great, especially when the line to check in is like a Disney ride.

LOSE A GUEST: Systems that don’t have random room algorithms choose a room that may or may not be checked out yet, and thus not cleaned until much later in the day. This leaves the guest stranded without luggage and a place to freshen up before an important meeting or before his speech at dinner.

WIN A GUEST: Kiosk systems work when there is appropriate supervision by a human who can override when appropriate and fix frustrations in a timely manner. Arm this individual with tech tools that work for them to one-stop help guests in every situation, from check-in to room changes and beyond.

“Guest Service Agents”

A guest has a problem … anywhere on-property … where do they go? To the guest service agent at the front desk.

LOSE A GUEST: Agents are often uninformed about other areas and not empowered to solve problems. Also, access to these agents during peak check-in and check-out times means that you wait in line.

WIN A GUEST: Have roaming agents in the lobby who can take pressure off of the lines during peak times and can answer most questions. Arm these agents with access and knowledge of all property promotions and events. Tablets with full PMS connectivity is best.

In-Room Technology

Everything is automated and available on a touchscreen for your convenience.

LOSE A GUEST: The TV doesn’t turn on. There isn’t a guide to find a channel. The room can’t be cooled. Information is out of date. Menus are unavailable. Help is lost because the app is broken.

WIN A GUEST: Keep it simple and intuitive. Make sure that management tests the system frequently to ensure that links and information are accurate.

Order and Pre-Order from Your Room

Being able to order room service items from the touchscreen or TV, or pre-order your coffee in the lobby to skip the line at Starbucks.

LOSE A GUEST: When the process doesn’t save any time and makes it more inconvenient than worth it. Pre-order coffee to skip the line, only to discover that you have to wait in another line when you arrive and manually advise them that you are in line. Nothing worse.

WIN A GUEST: Have systems that are tested and work. Over-deliver not over-promise. Exceed guest expectations by having dedicated teams working on the technology side for fulfillment and execution. If the manual system is faster and more accurate – ditch the technology until you can ensure that it works.

Check-Out App

Don’t go to the desk, just log into the app or view the screen to ensure that your charges are correct, click the check-out button, and leave the property.

LOSE A GUEST: When charges are not correct and they need resolving, what system do you have in place to handle them? Going down to the long line is not this guest’s idea of a solution. Calling the desk and only getting the recording that someone will be with them shortly is also a nightmare. Not only do they leave frustrated, but they feel like their last impression is that this property doesn’t care about getting anything right – including ensuring that the charges are correct as they leave.

WIN A GUEST: The best examples are when the check-in process has fully explained potential charges, including resort fees, taxes and other miscellaneous charges that could be assessed. When rooming a guest, bellhops should explain the mini-bar system, and perhaps what their resort fee pays for in the form of pointing out all the services offered on-property. Resolving billing options should be done promptly and with empowered agents on the phone who can quickly resolve and promptly email the guest the corrected statement.

WIN A GUEST FOR LIFE? … Thank them. Smile. Anticipate their needs. Quickly resolve issues. Follow up. Test your own systems so that you know where the guests’ frustrations might lie and figure out how to improve them so that you don’t lose another guest over something that could have been easily fixed.

Are you winning or losing guests through your well intended efforts? Not sure? Contact Amy Hergenrother today for your customized hotel review at [email protected].

Brett L. Magnan