Implementation Excellence in a complex tech-stack
Summary: Hotel industries tech-stack can make implementation of online check-in difficult. Deep know-how about processes and systems is needed for successful solutions.
Not only the described misunderstanding is to blame for the so far long and winding road towards digital transformation in hotels. The harsh reality is, it is just not easy to do. It has to be admitted that the technological landscape in the hospitality industry is complex (in many cases it is a real mess). Therefore, to provide a smooth, frictionless process often is not a simple thing.
Managing Complexity in the Background
Booking might be with a third party, regulations for registration vary from country to country, payment options are plentiful, different PMS systems communicate with different door lock systems to create keys and sometimes the elevator demands to be integrated as well in order to bring up the guest to the right floors (only).
Take a small chain with properties in several countries and you quickly realize why there is not one quick solution covering all this, nevermind a quick and cheap one. The problem is, you have to cover all this for at least 90% of the cases in order to provide a solution worth the meaning of the word.
Having a closer look at the details quickly shows that at check-in/out the exception is the rule.
Retrieve the booking, of course also if it was made via a third party like booking.com. Include all necessary steps for registration for yourself and in case also for your spouse and kids.
These steps can differ from a digital signature, strong customer authentication via CC or scanning a passport depending on country regulations. Handle payments with different credit cards, virtual credit cards, mobile wallets or whatever payment options are common with your guests.
Create keys, either RFID key cards and/or mobile keys mostly based on BLE. If mobile keys, also make sure they work for the elevator, to access the pool area, can be shared with fellow travelers staying in your room – and that there is no keycard needed to put in a slot in order to have power in the room.
For check-out enable splitting the invoice (eg. between corporate and private) and payment with different credit cards (well, eg. corporate and private). For all this, integrations are needed in the background to get all technology “under one roof”.
The second challenge is, to make all this in a truly user friendly way. No matter if online check-in or check-in at a terminal, they are self-service by nature.
Everybody has experienced self-service options in various fields (and increasingly so) – ATMs, gas stations, pay stations in parking garages, self check-out in retail or the whole check-in process including baggage drop-off when flying …
And everybody has experienced almost ridiculously bad execution of such services. So yes, it is very common to provide self-service options. And yes, it can be done in very bad ways.
But the thing is, it can also be done in a simple, self-explanatory, user friendly, fast and smooth way.
And then it gives the guest more control and flexibility while taking away effort from the hotel. Effort which can be saved or better used for a hospitable welcome, depending on its strategy and business model.