Hotel Check-In Times and Industry Check-In Trends

A fixed check-in time, long lines at the front desk, and constantly waiting for a room to be ready— these are three major pain points that all hotel guests will be very familiar with!

However, by becoming more flexible and keeping with the times, hotels can ease the burden of waiting and ultimately exceed the expectations of their customers.

There are many different things to account for when considering adjusting hotel check-in times, but we’ll cover the following crucial aspects:

  • Hotel check-in times, why 24-hour check-ins are sought after, and potential downsides when using this strategy
  • The general hotel check-in process
  • Currently prevailing check-in trends that you can adopt for your hotel

Let’s get into it!

close up shot of a check in sign at a hotel

What Time is Check-In at Hotels?

The average check-in time in the UK is somewhere between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM.

However, this restricted time range can be frustrating to guests as it means that their plans may be disrupted, or that they might have to wait around with their luggage.

If you’re wanting to get an edge over the rest in today’s competitive market, you may want to opt for more flexibility.

More and more hotels are now implementing 24-hour check-ins–a strategy that improves customer satisfaction by enhancing flexibility.

Benefits of 24-Hour Check-In

bright red neon 24 hour hotel check in sign

Enhanced Guest Experience

With a 24-hour check-in feature, hotel guests will refreshingly feel that they’re being listened to.

Allowing guests to check in throughout the day acknowledges all the unknown variables that come with travelling such as flight delays, limited transport timing options, and unavoidable schedule conflicts.

Guests will then experience less stress knowing that they don’t have to rush just to make it in time for check-in.

Ease the Workload on Staff

Spacing out check-in times means that the rooms don’t all need to be prepared in the same window of just a few hours. As such, staggered check-in times will allow for quieter and less stressful shifts for your employees.

As a result, the staff will be able to have a more relaxed pace when carrying out their tasks. Ultimately, this leads to easier workloads and better productivity.

Hotel Check-In Processes

To maintain consistency, the check-in process of your hotel should follow the same format each time. In doing so, guests will know what to expect if they visit again.

Generally, the hotel check-in process is as follows:

  • The guest arrives and requests to check-in
  • The front desk staff greets the guest and inquires about their reservation
  • The guest provides their details
  • Their booking is found in the system
  • The staff member checks room availability and assigns a room and key card
  • The staff member then offers services and assistance and provides any information that the guest reasonably requests
  • After ensuring that the guest has everything they need, they are provided with their key card

This basic check-in process can be freely modified to suit the hotel’s branding or marketing strategy.

For instance, while the guest waits, the hotel can provide complimentary services to help them feel at ease and more relaxed.

Considerations for Hotel Check-In Timing

While 24-hour check-in may be ideal for guests, sometimes it just isn’t feasible. The primary reason is that there needs to be an adequate excess of rooms and staff available for the scheme to be implemented year-round.

For instance, if all guests opt for early check-in and late check-out, there won’t be enough time to clean and prepare the rooms in anticipation of the incoming guests.

There’s also a risk of having no rooms available when a guest wants to check-in. If the hotel is forced to turn the guest away, this hurts the hotel’s RevPAR and leaves a poor impression on the potential customer.

To avoid these pitfalls, you may want to consider making extended check-in hours available only if the option has been selected when making the reservation.

While this detracts from the spontaneity of a 24-hour check-in scheme, it nevertheless allows the hotel to remain flexible.

This way, your guest can still check in whenever they like – but they’ll just first need to let you know in advance so that the staff will have ample time to prepare their room without hurting availability.

Hotel Check-In Trends

man walking to a hotel check-in desk

Flexible Guest Check-In

Many hotel groups have started to implement flexible check-in times, marking a great step towards 24-hour check-in without having to implement a major transition overnight.

By setting these parameters, you can enable your guests to select when they check in without the hotel having to shoulder the cost of a longer stay for no additional charge.

This approach is attractive for guests as they can schedule their check-in when they see fit (around the time that their plane lands, for example).

It’s especially popular with international or long-haul travellers who are likely to be jet-lagged and just want to get to their room and catch some sleep, no matter the time of day.

A flexible check-in time also eases the pressures on staff as it eliminates the rush caused by a set check-in time.

One essential factor you should consider is to ensure that guests book ahead of time—either online or by phone—so that their room will be ready when they arrive. Doing this increases the viability of the flexible check-in strategy.

Mobile Check-In

Ever since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology that allows us to be contactless has skyrocketed.

Mobile check-in has become a popular way for guests to get to their rooms without having to stop by the front desk.

Guests simply verify their identity and booking information online using their smartphones and receive their room details afterward. This typically also includes the key they need to access their room, such as a barcode.

Having this option streamlines the check-in process as guests don’t need to wait around in the lobby to be served.

The convenience of being able to check in while they’re still on their way to the hotel is certainly a big bonus as well.

While the transition to mobile check-in is quite costly initially—especially since it requires new software systems, door locks, and security measures—the investment is likely to pay off in the long run.

Not only will guests get to their rooms faster and more smoothly, but the increased customer satisfaction will also encourage them to select extras such as room upgrades, late check-outs, and additional services right from their phones.

Hotel Check-In Apps

Hotel-specific check-in apps take the concept of mobile check-ins one step further.

After all, using a check-in service that’s unique to the hotel provides room for the addition of even more exciting features.

For instance, guests can link their rewards accounts to the app and collect and spend points without needing access to a computer.

They can also actively track and pay their bill from the comfort of their smartphones without having to wait at the front desk.

This ease of access leads to greater brand loyalty, as customers will likely stick to the hotel due to its time-tested convenience and greater perceived value.

Depending on the sophistication of the app, things like room service, housekeeping requests, and booking of activities in the area that are affiliated with the hotel can also be added for an integrated and cohesive experience.

Check-in Desks

While these new advances in the hospitality industry are exciting, there’s no need to jump fully on board right away. After all, there’s still a lot of value in retaining check-in desks.

Many customers, especially older ones, prefer face-to-face interaction as this adds to the overall welcoming, full-service feel of a luxurious hotel.

Further, there’s always a chance of unexpected guest or software issues, so it’s a good idea to have someone on the premises who’s available to help out.

Friendly service and guest prioritisation are big features that keep hotels ahead of the competition in a world dominated by AirBnB and other private accommodation services.

As such, while automation is a major perk, keeping a traditional check-in desk still serves as an effective way to maintain a loyal customer base.

Key Takeaways

Adding flexible check-in times and utilising new technology will help your hotel stay at the forefront of the industry.

By prioritising your customers’ comfort, you can reap the benefits of having both happy guests and happy staff.

Consider implementing new technologies while always keeping in mind the warm, human aspect that makes your hotel shine.

This way, customers will leave with a satisfied experience that’ll hopefully keep them coming back for more!

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