Guide to the Best Check-In and Check-out Procedures in Hotels
Many hotel properties are laser-focused on doing whatever it takes to ensure guests enjoy every moment of their stay. From impeccable housekeeping standards to four-star in-house restaurants to luxurious swimming pools, hoteliers invest a lot of time and money pampering their customers.
However, what they may not realize is that two of the most important experiences for the average traveler are at the beginning and end of their stay. The check-in and check-out procedures in hotels are critical for building a strong and lasting impression of your business.
Typically, anyone with a reservation must arrive at the front desk after a set time to check-in, usually in the afternoon to allow for the room to be cleaned and prepared. During check-in, hotel staff will typically provide information about the property and verify the guest details. The guest is then handed a key to his or her room. At the end of the stay, guests check-out before a specific time in the late morning and head to the front desk once again to settle any outstanding payments and return the keys.
The moment a guest sets foot on your property, you want her or him to have a positive experience. Travelers are likely to be worn out from their journey and want nothing more than to settle into a room so they can begin relaxing or preparing for business in a comfortable environment. Getting them through the check-in process as quickly and painlessly as possible not only helps them feel better, but also gives you a better chance to upsell amenities such as spa services.
When their time with you is over, a stress-free checkout ensures your guests leave with a smile. Unfortunately, not every hotel’s guest check-in and checkout procedures are optimized in such a way. To help streamline your processes, we’re sharing the following tips.
Tips to Improve the Check-in and Check-Out Experiences
Having a standard hotel check-in system in place will help ensure things start off as seamlessly and smoothly as possible, keys to providing your guests with the best overall experience. The same goes for check-out. In doing so, you make all the experiences between these two moments more enjoyable and memorable. Here are some ideas you may be able to put into practice at your property:
Find out their plans: While it’s not always fool-proof, ask your guests when they plan to arrive. We recommend you do this at the time of booking and during any sort of confirmation/pre-arrival communication. Your online booking engine should require people to indicate their estimated check-in time. When travelers call to book, make sure your staff knows to ask this question. Then if you call or email guests prior to arrival (which we highly suggest!), include this information and ask them to let you know if their plans have changed. This can help you manage the flow of people at your front desk by being properly staffed. It can also allow you to prepare guests if they plan to arrive outside of your typical check-in window.
If guests arrive early, provide a secure place for them to store their luggage until the room is ready. Bonus points if you’re able to bring everything to the room as soon as possible. The key here is to make sure your early birds don’t feel unwelcome.
Offer express registration: Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to ensure you give those staying with you the ability to breeze through arrival. Because so many travelers have already booked in advance, you most likely have everything you need from them before they arrive. This creates a more welcoming conversation, where information is simply being verified rather than collected. Ensure your property management system allows you to securely store all guest info, including payment details, for easy review and processing. Guests will spend less time waiting at the front desk, and you’ll see a reduced burden on your staff. The convenience also makes it more likely that guests will be receptive to upselling offers.
Allow for self-check-in: Seasoned travelers who are in and out of hotels frequently have been through the motions dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Offering an option for guests to verify details with you prior to arrival, including collecting any remaining balance due, allows these pros to speed through the process quickly, without having to wait for staff. Have a secure way for guests to collect their room info and door key or code, and consider offering a text messaging service for easy communication. Even those who don’t travel as frequently may prefer this experience because of the perceived benefit of self-service.
Emphasize customer service: Technology brings a lot of benefits, but it’s no substitute for the human touch. Make sure you and your staff understand the value of high-quality face-to-face interaction when guests do stop at the front desk. Remember to be warm and accommodating, always offering a smile and help with whatever questions they may have. As is always the case with any type of customer service initiative, setting clear goals and offering regular training are the keys to success.
Design your line: Studies show that a single-file line is less stressful than having multiple lines. Although encouraging guests to line up behind multiple stations makes for shorter queues, it could also lead to situations where people may become frustrated if one queue appears to be moving faster than theirs. Keeping everyone together in one line that snakes around your lobby should make for a more orderly and equitable procedure.
Seal the Deal: When it’s time for your guests to leave, make the most of it. If you don’t need them to stop at the front desk, let them know that. If they do, tell them how much it meant to have them choose your property and wish them safe travels. This is also a great opportunity to ask them how their stay was. We know some people are afraid to ask for fear of hearing something negative, but don’t be! It’s much better to find out while they’re still on site than to read about it on Tripadvisor in a week. And if they tell you everything was amazing, make sure to ask them to please share their experience in an online review.
But Wait, There’s More: Once they leave, you still have the chance to send a follow-up thank you email. This is hopefully something you can automate with your property management system so you never forget! We think having this sent about 24-48 hours after departure is the perfect time frame, but you can experiment and see what works best for your business. Similar to the check-out conversation, make sure to thank your guests once again and include links to any online review sites you rely on for marketing.
A Surefire Way to Improve Your Systems
One of the best ways to simplify and streamline every aspect of your hotel is by using a property management system like ThinkReservations. Our cloud-based platform allows you to manage a wide range of tasks through a single account, including check-in and check-out, from anywhere. Get more than just a hotel check-in software - get an all-in-one PMS that is backed by a team that knows lodging.
To learn more about how our system works and what it can do for you, click here.
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