Strategies to improve the Hotel Group Check-In Process
People hate long lines, especially when they are too long. Waiting can cause people to be impatient and cranky, regardless of whether they are at the airport, grocery store, or DMV (where there are notoriously long lines). This can directly impact customer satisfaction, especially during group check-ins.
A Cornell School of Hotel Administration study examined the time it took to reduce guest satisfaction by 50 points (on a 100-point scale). It took Americans just 5 minutes, which was the shortest time of all the countries. Researchers have known as “queueing theorists” have studied what people dislike most about waiting in lines and what makes them happier when waiting is inevitable.
Continue reading to find out how queuing science can be used to help hotels reduce ‘perceived waiting time’, which is the psychological enemy of waiting.
Find new ways to improve hotel check-in.
For groups, personalize the experience.
It is important to designate a point person who will greet organizers and planners upon their arrival for large groups. Group members will appreciate direction when there is a chance of a jam at the check-in desk. This will ensure they don’t waste time looking for the next destination or worrying about being in the wrong place.
Personal service is key to making a happy or unhappy group. If people feel welcome and taken care of, their perception of the hotel’s hospitality rises. This makes them more likely to wait for a service or item of greater value.
Remote check-in is possible.
A great strategy to improve check-in is to minimize or eliminate wait times. Remote check-in can be a breeze with Millennials, Boomers, and other Gen Xers. Remote check-in is a common feature for airlines, and these crowds will enjoy the same convenience at hotels. Here are some tips for seamless remote check-in
- Invite guests to check in using the app by sending them to push notifications or text messages on the day of their arrival.
- For a seamless digital experience, pair remote check-in and mobile keys to unlock your doors. Groups can walk into the hotel to their rooms using their mobile phones to unlock their doors. Personalization is possible in the rooms. You can get complimentary mints and bottled water with personalized sleeves (“Celebrate your love!” Groups can be welcomed at Gerald + Beth’s Wedding without waiting in line.
- You can offer early check-in via web portals. For example, Accor sends guests an email with a link that allows them to check in up to two days before arrival. Guests are required to pick up their keys upon arrival. To check out, they must return the key. This valuable perk is available only to direct bookings and loyal program members.
The self-check-in kiosks make it easy to check in individuals when there is a large group. The front desk staff can handle more complex group check-ins like splitting the room charge or when members of a group request split. Millennials are more likely to use kiosks than older generations, as they prefer to handle check-ins themselves.
For success, arrange the line and lobby.
Queueing science states that a single line, in which the next available worker serves the person in front, is less stressful than multiple lines. Customers must use ‘queue calculus’ to choose the most efficient line. Frustration and unfairness can arise when someone else gets on a faster line but is served slower. When their fastest line is used, people generally don’t have a positive reaction.
For exceptional customer service, get the timing just right.
The last few minutes of the line significantly impact a customer’s overall experience with a queue. These moments are considered positive, and guests will rate their overall wait experience positively, even though they may have felt extremely negative throughout the wait.
These last moments are important. With a cheerful and calm smile, greet the guest who calls to the desk. Carefully select customer-facing staff for warmth, train them well for knowledge of procedures (both routine and out-of-the-ordinary), and consider an employee reward program for outstanding service.