Jos Schaap, CEO and Founder StayNTouch
There has been a great deal written about how more and more people use mobile devices to book both air travel and make hotel reservations. There is little doubt that the proliferation of mobile devices within the travel ecosystem is increasing year over year. A Phocuswright research study in 2016 which focused on the mobile landscape outlined that travelers turn to their smartphones when deciding where to go, choosing travel products, during their trip and for sharing experiences. In another report from Phocuswright called Chat, Shop, Buy, released in April of 2016, researchers analyzed how travelers were using their phones at a granular level. Over 28% of survey respondents use their device to message the hotel to say “thank you, 20% used their device for room requests, and 19% used their device for mobile check-in and out.
The Process When one thinks about mobile check-in or check-out,, they automatically think of the utilization of a personal smart device for this to activity to take place. This is how the process works. The guest receives an email or text message from the hotel letting them know that they can check in as their room is now available. The guest then clicks on the link within the email or message and checks-in. By doing this, they have triggered a number of events. Firstly, they are now confirmed guests, opening up the opportunity to offer an upgraded room type for a nominal fee. It is also timely to propose an incentive to stay on-property for dinner rather than venturing out. Another opportunity for engagement can be a text from someone (GM, concierge, front desk) at the hotel welcoming them and expressing a personal message to let the guest know they are available to help with any needs or requests. Finally, the check-in process is expedited at the front desk because the guest doesn’t need to stand and wait for their key. The key is made available via an envelope handed over by the front desk agent or based on the technology available; the guest may be able to use their smart device to open the door.
Technology’s Impact This process seems logical and straightforward. It makes sense for someone to use his or her device to check-in and check-out if they so desire. However, what happens when they do not want to check-in remotely? What about if they have special requests that are not hard-coded into the check-in system? These issues arise all the time. We, as an industry need to be committed to delivering the level of service that our guests expect, regardless of what it takes. In the past, we have only developed technology systems that chain hotel staff and restricts guests. Now we realize that all these software solutions we’ve implemented over the years have drastic limitations and far-reaching detrimental impacts. Luckily times have changed, and we are now able to deliver on the hotel industry’s promise of exceptional service and give our guest the ability to personalize their stay.
Self-Service When examining the mobile check-in and check-out landscape, we see there are varied devices and methods of engagement that can be applied in order to give guests what they want. Self-service stations and tablets are available at many hotel properties worldwide – decreasing front desk lines and enabling guests to pick and choose products and services during their check-in process. Giving guests control over their experience is a high priority for hotels looking for competitive differentiation and additional revenue.
Roving Check-In Roving check-in is relatively new to our industry, but it is already proving its value with some excellent adoption rates. Roving check-in describes what occurs when a hotel makes a conscious decision to empower their staff with the tools to interact and assist their guests at every touchpoint. This type of attentiveness fosters relationships with guests because it supports a high degree of engagement. The front desk staff can use tablets to check-in guests and can either escort them directly to their room or spend time with them in the lobby and walk them through the property’s services. This type of connection fosters a relationship, increasing the likelihood that the guest will return next time they are in town.
More on the Way The advancement of how mobile platforms can be used in the hospitality environment is moving at light speed with no signs of slowing down. Hoteliers need to take advantage of the latest technologies that enable them to deliver service levels and products that increase guest satisfaction, operational efficiency, and profitability.
The most important thing to remember is that most hotel guests just want to feel as if they matter. They are your guests staying at your hotel, and they should be appreciated. In today’s age of immediate gratification and technological haste, hoteliers should turn to the power of mobile platforms as the backbone to drive memorable experiences that keep guests coming back.