Hotel Check-In Time: Processes and Trends

As a hotel owner, you need to think about every detail as it relates to your business. Choosing when you would like to set your hotel’s check-in and check-out times are two areas you can’t gloss over. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the most common hotel check-in and check-out times for guests. We’ll also go over some processes connected to hotel check-ins. Finally, we’ll run through some hotel check-in time trends that you should be aware of.

What Are Common Hotel Check-In and Check-Out Times?

Usually, guests expect to check into a hotel between 2 and 4 pm. Obviously, this will vary according to various factors, but this time window is often considered the industry standard. Guests can feel free to check into their rooms at any time after as well. 

If you operate a hotel that gets a lot of international guests, this standard check-in window might vary. You may also have a situation where you have decided to have a 24-hour reception option. This can be handy if you often expect to get travelers at times other than during this window. The self-check-in kiosk is always a possibility as well.

As for checking out, most guests are expected to officially leave their room and check out of a hotel by 11:00 in the morning local time, or possibly by 12:00 with some hotels. This allows the staff plenty of time to prepare the room for a new arrival a little later that afternoon. Of course, some guests might look for a later check-out time in some instances. Each hotel must decide what kind of policy they want to have regarding late check-outs.  

Processes Connected to Hotel Check-Ins

Now, let’s discuss some of the more common processes connected to guests checking into your hotel. Usually, the process starts with your guests approaching your reception desk. It makes sense to have someone there who’s both friendly and knowledgeable. Your receptionist can ask the traveler for their name and then look up their reservation.

If the receptionist can confirm the would-be guest is booked to stay at your hotel, they can give them a brief explanation of your hotel’s amenities. This rehearsed speech should include anything that the guest needs to know about their room, and also what they should know about your hotel in a more general sense. Check-in times are also a golden opportunity for upselling and cross-selling. 

What Specifically Should Your Receptionist Tell Your Arriving Guests?

Your receptionist should tell your arriving guests the room’s Wi-Fi password or where in their room they can find it. They should also tell them the standard check-out time and the availability of the front desk staff. If your front desk is not staffed 24 hours a day, your guests need to know that.

After your receptionist has conveyed this information to your arriving guests, they can give them their room keys. A staff member might then escort the guests to their room, or they may go on their own. That usually depends on how fancy the hotel is. In more luxurious hotels, the guests will likely expect a hotel staff member to carry their luggage and escort them to their room.

When the staff member shows a guest where their room is and ensures they have as many keys as their party needs, the staff member might expect a tip. That depends to some extent on the expectations of the country in which your hotel operates. 

Now, let’s talk about some of the latest trends in hotel check-ins that you should be aware of as a hotel owner.

Flexible Check-In Times

Earlier, we mentioned that most hotels allow guests to start checking in between 2 and 4 pm, though they can check in at any time after that as well. The time when guests are allowed to start checking in might be different for hotels that cater to international travelers. 

However, many hotels are considering or implementing more flexible check-in times these days. This is mostly to try to attract a younger or more fashionable crowd. 

Both older and younger travelers may not necessarily want to check into a hotel at a conventional time. They might value spontaneity. If so, they may want to engage in some activities or see some sights around the city where your hotel is located before checking in.  

You might charge a different amount depending on when guests want to check in. However, you may also be okay with more flexible check-in times as part of your hotel’s unique value proposition. 

Check-In Apps

There are increasingly fewer business entities in the modern era that don’t have both an app and a website. It’s a foregone conclusion that your hotel should have its own site, but you may want to consider creating a phone application for your hotel’s guests as well. 

A bespoke hotel app is something you might want to budget for, especially if you want your hotel to seem more modern. If you have multiple hotels, then getting an app for them becomes even more appealing.

An app isn’t just an easy way for a guest to check in, though. It’s also a way for you to engage with your guests before they get there, during their stay, and after they leave as well.  

A guest might check into or out of your hotel via the app if they want to avoid having to talk to anyone in person. If there’s an automated way for them to pick up or drop off their room keys, the combination of that and the app will probably appeal to more antisocial guests or ones who are coming and going in the middle of the night.

An app is also a great way for your guests to communicate with your staff. They might request extra towels or a wake-up call through the app. They may also lodge a complaint through the app if they would prefer not to call the front desk or do so in person. 

Mobile Check-In

Even if you have decided not to pay someone to create an app for your hotel at the moment, you should still give your guests the option of checking in and out of your hotel using their cell phones. 

People love smartphones. Each new version that comes out seems to have a wider variety of functionalities, and there’s no excuse for having a hotel that a guest can’t check into or out of via their phone. If you don’t have an app, they should still be able to do these things via your hotel’s website.

Allowing your guests to check in and out of your hotel via their smartphones streamlines both processes. This comes in handy because it’s one less thing to occupy your busy front desk staff. 

Also, allowing your guests to check in and out via their smartphones can be a real lifesaver if they’re in a hurry. If they’re checking out, for instance, and they need to do so quickly because they’re rushing to catch a flight, this is a way for them to do that.

Additional Perks of Mobile Check-In to Consider 

Aside from all that, travelers who are able to check in and out of your hotel via their smartphone should help lead to customer retention. A hotel that does not have this capability might be seen as old fashioned or behind the times. Presumably, that is not the impression you want your guests to get about your business. 

Also, there’s the prospect of upselling through a customer’s smartphone. Whether you have developed a phone app for your hotel or your guest is using your website, you should have plenty of opportunities to upsell to them if you present additional benefits in an attractive, enticing way. 

A guest who might not be as inclined to purchase extras when talking to someone in person may be more inclined to do it via their smartphone. That way, they are not likely to feel as pressured or put on the spot.

Check-In Kiosks and Contactless Check-In 

Check-in kiosks and contactless check-in can be lumped into the same category. Both are considered trendy in modern hotels, and you should strongly consider implementing both. 

Check-in kiosks in the lobby allow guests to manage their departure or arrival quickly and with a minimum of effort. You will also be seen as having modern technology, which most guests will appreciate.

When a guest sees that there is a kiosk available to them, they’ll understand they won’t have to wait in line behind other guests when the lobby gets busy. They can bypass all of that and enjoy instant gratification. 

Contactless check-in also usually involves the ability for guests to get room keys without needing to speak to anyone in person. 

Some Additional Reasons Why Check-In Kiosks and Contactless Check-Ins Are a Must 

In addition to the reasons we’ve already mentioned, installing check-in kiosks and having contactless check-in options save human resources. Many times, you will only have a limited number of staff members available. 

If you have check-in kiosks and contactless check-ins, your staff members can focus on guests who have pressing issues outside the norm. Guests who only want to drop off a key, pick one up, or do something similar can avoid tying up one of your staff members.

This also means you won’t have to pay to have as many individuals on-site at your hotel for some shifts. That should cut down on your overall operational budget.

There are also some individuals who still prefer not to have to deal with anyone directly, even though we’re long past the worst stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some guests who are immunocompromised or who would prefer not to talk to someone unless they have to will likely appreciate going contactless during their stay. 

There’s also the brand loyalty factor. If a guest stays at your hotel and is able to use a check-in kiosk and do a contactless check-in, and then they’re not able to do the same at a different hotel, it makes sense they would prefer to come back to your hotel over the competition. Brand loyalty is extremely important, and this is a simple yet crucial way you might be able to cultivate it in your guests. 

A Few Additional Considerations About Hotel Check-In Times

Regardless of what check-in times and policies you have in place for your hotel, you should make those clear on your website, and your app, if you have one. You don’t want a guest to arrive and not have an understanding of your check-in and check-out times. If you’re at all unclear in these areas, you might end up with a frustrated or indignant guest.

Even if you don’t normally allow early check-in for guests, having at least a couple of rooms available with that policy is worth considering. Even if you only have a few rooms specially designated for early check-in, those can come in handy if you have a guest who arrives early and insists they need a room before the normally designated time.  

Cleaning Each Room is of Optimal Importance

If you’re ever thinking about changing the check-in times at your hotel, that should always depend on whether your cleaning staff has the time to thoroughly clean each vacated room. Maybe you plan to stick to the traditional check-in time between 2 and 4 p.m., or you’d like to adjust that time to add more value proposition for guests. Either way, you must ensure the cleaning staff can get each room looking spotless and pristine before allowing new guests to access it. 

Your hotel check-in and check-out times should be constantly considered and reevaluated. You want to keep up with industry trends both in terms of the technology you’re using for these processes and the times you’re allowing your guests to access and leave their rooms. This can often lead to improved guest satisfaction and repeat customers. 

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