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Pre-Arrival Check-In: ROI in Just 29 Days

What Hotels Can Learn From Airlines

As we’ve mentioned in one of our other articles, there’s a lot the hotel industry can learn from the airline industry. One such area is the concept of pre-arrival check-in, also known as mobile check-in.

It’s perhaps a little surprising, given the synergistic relationship between airlines, airports, hotels and travel, that the hospitality industry hasn’t picked up on this sooner.

Here’s what’s so great about it, in a hotel context:

  1. Guests love it, so it automatically creates new brand touch points – and talking points – for your hotel
  2. It is an excellent way to make money – ancillary income that is incremental – and it’s almost immediate
What Is Pre-Arrival Check-In?

Pre-arrival check-in is mobile check-in. It’s the ability for guests to do all the admin and paperwork of booking into your hotel before they get there. Then when they do, they just collect the key and go to their rooms.

It owes its existence to a nifty little invention of airlines, called the pre-flight check-in. With a smart phone, usually 24-48 hours before our flight, we can check ourselves in. We can also choose or confirm our seats, declare that we don’t have dangerous goods on board, and get our digital boarding passes.

If we’re travelling domestically (or very light internationally), and we’re able to squeeze all our goodies into a small carry-on bag, online check-in means we can even skip those enormous queues at airports. Straight through security, and then a relaxing coffee at the gate.

Now, imagine you’re a guest at your hotel, and this is your experience:

– Long queues to sign in are gone

– Faffing with credit cards and paperwork – history

– No fumbling around for IDs and the like

– All you want to do is hit the hay, and you’d prefer contactless check-in

Money For Jam

If all your guests need to do is collect a key from the front desk when they arrive, just imagine how quick, easy and seamless the whole process would be. Your team would be less frazzled by the peak hours. Travel-weary guests could be on their way to their rooms in a jiff. As a matter of fact, hotel research has shown that over a quarter of guests would actually prefer a digital key, while more than a third want a contactless payment option.

But here’s the kicker: airlines cleverly charge extra for pre-booking seats, allocating extra leg-room, providing in-flight meals in some cases, and allowing priority boarding at gates.

If you used a pre-arrival check-in system at your hotel, why couldn’t you:

– Suggest a room upgrade at a discount if you have the stock? The room is empty anyway.

– Charge a premium for early or late arrival, by pre-arrangement?

– Get your shuttle to pick up guests at the airport, for a fee?

– Arrange for eats & drinks on arrival, upsold before the time?

– Throw in a masseur or a spa treatment as part of a package deal?

Return on Investment in Just a Month?

In our dealings with some of our client hotels, we have helped them implement this system, and there has been a very strong uptake by guests. Here are a few of the numbers:

Hotel 1

It’s a sizeable Sydney establishment boasting over 400 rooms in the prestigious Sydney CBD. It commenced operations with the mobile check-in solution in December 2023. Their annual expenditure for this service stands at approximately A$35K. Remarkably, during their inaugural month in January 2024, they achieved an outstanding A$39K in supplementary revenue through upselling. This meant that they effectively covered the annual investment in less than 28 days, leaving the remaining 337 days to yield profit.

There was an initial adoption rate of slightly over 42% among arrivals, which aligns with typical early-stage usage patterns. It indicates just how much guests value their time and ease of process. This means almost half the guests now opt for pre-check-in. They collect their keys, and they’re on their way. It streamlines operations, which allows staff to dedicate more attention to guests who choose to check in at the front desk.

Hotel 2

This is a 165-room 4-star property located in Sydney Darling Harbour. They reached the breakeven point for their annual investment with the pre-arrival check-in solution within 59 days. They did this through upselling initiatives such as Early Check-in, Late Check-Out, and Breakfast. After four months, the system boasted an adoption rate of 52% among their arrivals.

Hotel 3

Situated in Byron Bay, with 100 rooms. It witnessed an impressive uptake of the pre-arrival check-in solution, with over 75% of arrivals embracing it within a few months. Similar to Hotel 1, they also managed to cover the annual cost of the solution within the first 29 days of implementation.

High uptake, with guests loving it, appears to be universal. Whether a 5-star luxury hotel, a 4-start business hotel, or a holiday resort,  the results were the same.

Explore Case Studies and more Insights on how to leverage technology to enhance the guest experience and improve your bottom line. Click here.

Your Digital Cash Register Will Sing Like a Canary

The Canary system is used to enable the pre-arrival check-in set-up, and it is, quite literally, money left on the table for your hotel to exploit. You can read a summary of the product here.

It makes use of a no-download platform (a web-based app) that has an adoption rate of between 50% and 80%. This is compared to the 10% for a normal hotel app. Guests prefer not to clutter their devices with new apps.

Need help considering or selecting the best technology for your Hotel and guests? Technology 4 Hotels can save you time and hassle, and help you increase your revenue. If you have feedback on this article or would like to connect, please get in touch via phone +61 2 8317 4000, or book a time for a complimentary 15-minute Tech Chat. Just click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Pre-arrival check-in, also known as mobile check-in, allows guests to complete their check-in process online before they arrive at the hotel. Similar to airline check-ins, guests can confirm their details, choose upgrades, and even arrange additional services using their smartphones.

A: Implementing pre-arrival check-in streamlines the check-in process, reduces front desk congestion, and enhances guest satisfaction. Additionally, it offers opportunities for upselling services such as room upgrades, late check-outs, and in-room amenities, generating additional revenue.

A: The solution delivers 10X (ten times) its investment. So for example, if the investment made was A$10K, it would generate A$100K.

A: Pre-arrival check-in allows guests to skip long queues and head straight to their rooms upon arrival. This convenience is particularly appreciated by travel-weary guests, enhancing their overall experience and satisfaction with the hotel.

A: Implementing pre-arrival check-in is straightforward with the right system, such as the Canary system. It integrates seamlessly with your hotel’s existing operations and provides comprehensive support and training for staff to ensure a smooth transition. This makes it easy to adopt and start seeing benefits quickly.