By Warren Dehan
For many hoteliers, 2021 is likely to be a year of experimentation, both with new technology and existing tools that have gained new purpose. The abrupt end to the previous business cycle, brought on by the arrival of COVID-19, showed the industry guests are looking for increased flexibility with regards to the check-in process. Traveler interest in mobile check-in was rising before the pandemic, but today it is almost a necessity to secure hotly contested bookings. Unfortunately, many hoteliers interested in offering the service are holding back due to misconceptions about the technology. Here is my attempt to dispel eight of those myths.
Mobile Check-In Myth #1: Mobile check-in requires an intricate and existing technology infrastructure. When discussing alternative check-in technologies, you do not need to be a large, branded hotel to divert attention away from the front desk and speed up the check-in process. Any property, across every hotel segment and independent classification, can easily add mobile check-in as long as the technology is supported by the hotel’s property-management system provider either through a proprietary application or via a third-party integration to industry leading providers.
Mobile Check-In Myth #2: To process mobile bookings and provide contactless check-in the hotel must have Bluetooth Low Energy electronic door locks, as the service requires guests to have access to a smartphone. While BLE door locks can provide a more expansive end-to-end check-in experience, there are many ways to provide mobile check-in without them.
Mobile Check-In Myth #3: To facilitate mobile check-in, the hotel must offer a branded app. The most common way for hotels to manage mobile guest bookings is through a branded smartphone app, but solutions also exist for guests who do not want the hassle of downloading another app. Hotels without an app can push messages directly to travelers through the PMS, notifying them to stop by the front desk and collect a key on the way to their room. This way, even hotels that want their guests to be free from having to download an additional app, or those without a robust technology budget, can take advantage of mobile check-in.
Mobile Check-In Myth #4: Mobile check-in should only be featured at hotels targeting younger guests, such as Millennials. Since the purpose of this technology is to provide guests with a greater level of choice so that they may travel on their own terms, mobile check-in is suited for all travelers, regardless of the types of hotels they prefer. Some hoteliers have been falsely led to believe this technology will only be used by younger generations of guests and therefore is not worth the investment. The reality is that today anyone with a mobile device could potentially be interested in mobile check-in. After all, even traditionally outgoing travelers may be faced with safety concerns or sometimes hit a wall after a long day on the road and would prefer to skip right to their room.
Mobile Check-In Myth #5: Mobile check-in is cost prohibitive. Since its inception, mobile check-in has been viewed as a tool for hotels in large chains, backed by big brands, and able to weather the complexity of such a service. FALSE. The incremental costs associated with mobile check-in are miniscule considering the utility they provide, and if hotels choose not to invest in BLE door locks, installation costs are even lower. Advancements in the technology and its implementation are making mobile check-in cost effective for everyone, including operators of independent hotels, leveling the playing field with larger properties across the board.
Mobile Check-In Myth #6: Guest engagement levels decrease with mobile check-in. It can be argued, to a certain degree, that there are some elements of guest interaction that will disappear as hotels implement mobile check-in. However, operators must also consider that there are many travelers who simply don’t want a self-service stay. With the right PMS provider, a la carte tools are providing the option of in-person guest service (or front desk attendant check-in) when it is wanted and self-service (mobile check-in) when it is not, meeting the needs of ALL guests.
Mobile Check-In Myth #7: Mobile check-in puts a wedge between high-touch service and guest interactions. Providing choice should be seen as a guest service improvement, not a hindrance. The essence of hospitality comes from finding common ground between hotels and guests, and this cannot be achieved if hotels are resistant to providing the experience guests’ desire. Instead, embracing the changing elements of the hotel experience can provide greater engagement than ever before by interacting with guests when they are at their most comfortable.
Mobile Check-In Myth #8: Hoteliers lose revenue opportunities when providing mobile check-in. Operators can embrace these tools to aid in upselling rooms, adding amenities to bookings, and more, or they can provide an expanded check-in experience for each guest, facilitated over mobile bookings. This technology has made such a great impact on the industry because it can be used by anyone with a mobile device, allowing operators to nimbly cater the check-in experience to each individual guest’s preference.
About the Author
Warren Dehan is the President of Maestro, the preferred cloud and on-premises PMS solution for independent hotels, luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals, and multi-property groups. Maestro was first to market with a fully integrated Windows PMS and Sales & Catering solution and is continuing that trend with leading edge web and mobile based solutions. Platform and deployment independence present Maestro as an investment that will continue to grow and adapt as new technologies emerge.