How hoteliers can optimize the check-in process
02/21/2019|6:04:21 PM|Next Big Thing

What’s the goal of every guest check-in? It’s more than delivering the guest a room, but for many years that’s how check-in has been treated – as a means to an end. But no matter how a guest checks in, via mobile or at the front desk, check-in should be so much more. It is the beginning of the on-property experience, and it can tell a guest so much about what her stay will be like. If she’s checking in via mobile, the experience can make or break her feeling of trust with the property based on the seamlessness or friction of the mobile experience. Should a guest check-in via the front desk, every aspect of that interaction has meaning. Is the agent kind and welcoming? Doing a job or creating a relationship? Does the agent offer more than the opportunity to take a credit card and return with a key card and a map?

Sometimes hoteliers or, more often, their front-desk staff considers the act of upselling at check-in to be overstepping, pushy even. However, when done right, upselling at check-in actually better serves the guest and generates revenue. Take, for instance, a beautiful mid-century lodge in Colorado. The historic property was purchased recently, and the room quality is inconsistent as the renovation rolls out. A guest that reserves a standard room by phone may end up in a room that hasn’t been updated, albeit at a reasonable rate.

However, a guest who has booked online has seen only the updated rooms on the hotel’s website. Sending this guest to an unrenovated room will be a poor guest experience from the beginning. Rather than have the guest come back complaining only to offer a free upgrade to a refurbished room, what if the front desk instead explained the situation at check-in and offered an upgrade to a renovated room at a minimal charge? Chances are most guests would pay for it. Of course, this is an atypical situation, but the point is that the guest will start with a better experience of the property and the property will generate more revenue on the stay. The same tenets apply to a property with all rooms lovingly tended and ready to go.

The ability to improve the guest experience while increasing revenue at the point of check-in should never be underestimated. At the same time, today’s consumers are inundated with messages about offers to such a degree that it can be challenging to rise above the noise. Moreover, hotels don’t want to appear to be continually asking for more, more, more. Implementing a technology solution capable of harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) that equips hotels staff with the ability to provide the right offers to the right guest at the right times solves this complex problem.

Studies show that using AI to generate more relevance for the consumer can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50% while increasing revenue by 43%. By using intelligent pricing and merchandising engines, hotels can better serve guests at the point of check-in, offering better rooms at a price that the system knows, based on prior data, the guest is likely to pay—and this applies to both mobile and front-desk check-in. Further, a system that uses millions of historical booking records, then applies machine learning can deliver upselling opportunities, such as a business traveler package complete with breakfast and mini-bar access, at the point of check-in. Alternatively, spa treatments, golf, lunch, dinner, cocktails, and so forth, can all be based on the guest’s preferences. Our research shows that the average upgrade at check-in can bring in an additional $39 per night, and further, it keeps the guest on-property, enjoying everything the hotel has to offer, likely spending even more once they’ve taken a seat at the charming cocktail bar.

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