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Hotel check-in software: Efficiently manage guest check-ins

Last updated on June 14, 2024

The front desk experience sets the tone for the guest’s entire stay. Travellers expect a speedy and efficient check-in process without hiccups. You might be understaffed or facing a tired guest after a long journey. The best hotel brands succeed at making guests feel at home. 

Improving the check-in experience can notably increase customer satisfaction and your brand positioning. Creativity and thoughtful touches will always be crucial to superior service – at the reception and elsewhere. But the reality is that personalised hospitality hinges on digital transformation. 

The pandemic brought on a steady rise in mobile and contactless solutions. Devices have become integral to our lives and convenience. At the same time, the hotel business has been facing staff shortages. Harnessing the power of technology to keep up with the changes and improve workflows doesn’t merely address these matters. It guarantees a competitive edge.

One such must-have solution is hotel check-in software, also known as, hotel reservation software, hotel reservation system, or property management system (PMS).

What is hotel check-in software, and how does it work?

Hotel check-in software is the technology that helps manage daily duties and keep records of guest stays. Modern systems are cloud-based and accessible by anyone with an internet connection. Cloud-based systems seamlessly track all aspects of operations. It can be integrated with third-party software, ultimately enabling hotels to expedite workflows and hand-pick areas for automation in line with their needs. 

Learn more: How to choose the right cloud PMS for your hotel

Hotel check-in software eliminates repetitive manual tasks and allows front desk agents to focus on human touches. Let’s say your staff manually searches for room availability or spends precious time entering guest information into the system. These duties inevitably slow the check-in process, creating queues and guest grievances. They also add pressure to perform faster. Automating such tasks through hotel check-in software can reduce workloads and boost the team’s morale. Lowering staff pressure to enable efficient, focused service also leads to meaningful guest interactions. 

Or imagine your property had a fully automated check-out process. Your guests could settle their bill, which has been sent to their inbox, with a few clicks at a time convenient for them – maybe at the airport waiting for their flight or in a taxi. Freed from producing the paperwork and handling the payment before the guest leaves, front desk clerks can concentrate on guest needs instead. Perhaps the guest would appreciate a takeaway coffee as they rush to catch an early flight. Or they need help with a complex itinerary. With the right software, staff members can continually address guests’ unique needs. 

These examples illustrate how hotel reservation software can help manage various hotel reservation aspects, from check-in to guest billing and booking experience. Elevating and streamlining operations through check-in software ultimately strengthens the guest experience. 

Here are the main benefits of hotel check-in software

1. Boosted efficiency, happier guests
Hotel staff efficiency and workplace satisfaction directly impact guest happiness levels. Using check-in software removes friction caused by recurring tasks and lengthy procedures. Consequently, automation helps reduce workloads and stress levels that stand in the way of exemplary customer service. Increased opportunity to contribute to guest satisfaction further advances the team's morale. 

2. Personalised service 
A recent ACA study found that 75% of customers would switch to a competing brand or company if they found out they were more convenient to do business with. All-in-one efficiency-increasing tools enable hotel staff to leave lasting impressions by giving them more time to focus and empathise. With software handling mundane duties such as payments and form filling, receptionists can go above and beyond in accommodating emerging needs. 

3. Fewer mistakes
You may struggle with overbookings due to outdated information on different booking channels and OTAs. Your receptionists may still manually record guest credit card details, which leads to human errors and huge legal consequences. Or your property’s high turnover rates translate into a long list of mistakes by the new trainees. Although eliminating errors might not be possible, cloud-based hotel check-in software helps reduce them. 
Hotel software integrated with a channel manager eliminates overbookings as your availability automatically updates across channels in real-time. With a payment gateway integration, you’ll avoid transaction and entry errors. And simplifying and streamlining operations helps improve staff retention. 

4. Lower costs & boosted revenue
Cloud platforms are cheaper, require less downtime, and offer more functionality than their on-premise legacy counterparts. A hotel reservation system promotes efficiency and streamlines operations by automating administrative tasks and consolidating all data in one place. It enables service personalisation by eliminating repetitive manual work and increases staff productivity and engagement. All this leads to significant cost reductions and revenue increases. 

Innovating the guest experience with hotel check-in software

The pandemic caused a rise in mobile technologies and contactless services, and guest expectations quickly caught up. Zendesk reports that 86% of customers now expect online self-service options. But as guests look for the best hotel experiences, speed, personalisation, and contactless journeys are only a part of the equation. According to AWS, customers no longer compare us only to our direct competition but to the best service they ever received from their favourite brand. 

These figures require hoteliers to strengthen their capacity to deal with constant changes and dynamic guest behaviours. 
Most travellers appreciate a friendly greeting and engagement with the front desk staff. But they also want to reach their hotel room as soon as possible. Mobile-friendly touchpoints, QR code scanning, and contactless journeys from check-in to check-out enable self-paced hotel stays. Major hotel brands like Hyatt and Marriott have switched to digital keys and an array of self-service options. Each hotel brand is unique, however. What works for one might not suit another. 

To combat reception wait times, hotels can utilise online check-in and kiosks. Shorter wait times mean relying on fewer receptionists. With a PMS, a hotel no longer needs front desk – or any other – staff at all times. Some hotel brands may enable contactless check-in for the guests who prefer it while serving others in person. The check-in software promotes flexibility in the unpredictable labour market, as personnel can only be present as needed. 

A hotel may use check-in kiosks but still have a clerk nearby for those who need help – like in cinemas. Check-in automation may go against some brands’ USPs, and changing the foyer layout or adding options for relaxation and self-serving might work better. Hotel software enables automating all or just some check-in procedures, and many hotels create a hybrid model. Ultimately, the guest journey should dictate which service aspects to automate and where to keep in-person service. 

Check-in software features

Hotel software showcases real-time data and enables payment processing and digital authorisation. It facilitates reporting, direct bookings, and new upselling options and helps you stay on top of housekeeping schedules. In addition, the hotel check-in system facilitates staff messaging and schedules and allows for better preparedness. All guest information goes into a single online profile, so you no longer have to fret about staff turnover and lost guest knowledge. 

Streamlining operations through the hotel reservation system sets you apart and safeguards your scalability. Above all, check-in software enables the frictionless experiences customers are asking for. 

So what are the main features of hotel software?

  • Open API, so you can easily integrate third-party software (such as revenue management and channel managers) as you improve the booking process and check-in procedures. 
  • Easy access to all relevant information (such as the front desk system and reservation overview) leading to a smooth and user-friendly reservation process.
  • Payment processing with contactless and online payment options that allow guests to effortlessly settle bills during the self-check-in or check-out.
  • Customised & automatic pre-check-in and post-check-out messaging. Aside from standard items like online booking confirmations and review requests, you can also send check-in alerts, tips during guests’ stay, social media suggestions, hotel website blogs, and more.
  • Cross-platform functionality. Online check-in need to be accessible from any device without guests needing to download additional programs and mobile apps. 
  • Check-in and check-out calendar & housekeeping schedule where you can track occupancy, check room cleanliness status, record notes, and more.
  • Features that enhance guest engagement and communication, such as personalised promotions, incentives, and digital registration cards.
  • Functional room plan management. 
  • Document scanner to check guests in smoothly and safely. 
  • A channel manager controlling hotel room distribution from booking engines and online travel agents like Airbnb,, and Expedia. Not only will you know which distribution channels your bookings come from, but you can improve performance per channel over time.
  • Training resources that lead to fast onboarding.
  • Business performance analysis to promote data-driven decision-making and help with revenue management.

Why automate with hotel check-in software?
The hotel reservation system possesses a remarkable power that extends beyond its inherent benefits. For the first time in history, service automation allows for the complete personalisation of each guest’s journey. 

The hospitality industry used to look for options to satisfy the majority. Now we can go so micro-granular that each experience is tailor-made. We can learn guests’ desires long before they arrive and communicate with them in their preferred way. We can create add-ons that speak to them. We can provide attention to detail that deepens the relationship and fosters guest loyalty. We can streamline workloads, improve relationships with travel agencies and other vendors, and embrace the latest hotel industry practices.

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