In response to the COVID-19 crisis, hotels around the world must take a second look at their procedures and assess whether they’re still viable in a world of social distancing and reduced staffing. Updating outdated processes will be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to experiment with new ways of creating the best experience possible for guests.

Adopting express check-in (also known as mobile check-in or contactless check-in) is a natural starting place for hotels who want to encourage social distancing without sacrificing service. The goal of express check-in is simple: reduce lines at the front desk by encouraging guests to check-in from their mobile devices.

Express check-in boasts many benefits. For example, preventing crowds from forming at the front desk decreases the risk of spreading the virus, improving safety for both guests and staff. The guests who do need to stop by the front desk will appreciate not having to wait in line. Additionally, express check-in saves time and energy for the front desk staff, allowing them to focus on other tasks or connect more deeply with guests.

In short, express check-in makes life easier for both your guests and your staff. It’s a true win-win situation.

How to Inform Guests about Express Check-In

Numerous solutions exist for implementing express check-in at your property. Many chain properties and large hotel groups ask guests to download their mobile apps, but this isn’t always necessary for smaller, independent hotels — and even if it were, studies have shown that very few guests actually download and engage with hotel apps.

Pre-arrival messaging makes for a more effective option for express check-in. By using text messages or emails to communicate with the guest before they’ve even stepped foot on the property, hotels can easily guide guests through the express check-in process. What’s more, you’re connecting with guests via text message or email, platforms they already check several times a day, rather than asking to download something new. A smartconcierge platform like Ivy provides the most elegant solution for pre-arrival messaging, as it establishes a line of communication that’s open to guests throughout the entirety of their stay. Whether guests need help with express check-in, connecting to the WiFi, or ordering room service, all they have to do is send a quick text message.

What about the room key?

Perhaps the most important part of checking in is receiving the room key. With express check-in, you’ll want to make sure this part of the process is as streamlined as possible. If your hotel uses key cards or physical keys, it’s wise to create a dedicated line at the front desk reserved exclusively for key pick-ups.

Alternatively, consider embracing a mobile key solution like OpenKey, which allows guests to access the property and unlock their rooms using only their mobile device. By combining pre-arrival messaging with a mobile key, it’s possible to entirely eliminate trips to the front desk during check-in. 

How soon can guests start the express check-in process?

Most hotels with express check-in open the service to guests either 24 hours prior or the morning of their arrival. This makes sure that the guest has plenty of time to complete the process without bothering them too far ahead of time. Be sure to communicate your regular check-in hours with guests, so they can plan their travels accordingly. Furthermore, if the guest’s room won’t be ready at the normal check-in time (things happen!), be sure to have a plan for breaking the bad news to guests and informing them of when the room is ready.

Is there anything else I should let guests know?

Remember to leave a phone number and contact info for guests, just in case something goes awry during the express check-in. Also, if guests will be required to download any apps ahead of time, such as a mobile key app or a hotel app, it’d be helpful to give them a heads up.

Like many new technologies, adopting express check-in can seem stressful at first. But when it’s done right, you’re not only creating a more convenient, safer experience for guests, but also saving the front desk team’s time and energy.