Hotel Online Check-in: How to Avoid Long Lines at the Front Desk

Feb 13, 2020 | Technology & Innovation | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The check-in and check out are traditionally done at the hotel front desk. However, many times these standard procedures cause inconveniences like queues and bureaucratization at the arrival and at the departure of the guest. To improve the guest experience, online check-in has become a common practice in the hotel industry.

Even though the check-in time may differ, most of the time guests arrive around between 12 – 2 pm. That means that a lot of people arrive at the same time, making the operational processes slower and creating long lines.

In a nutshell, the check-in process involves the front desk agent having to verify identity documents and booking numbers, fill up the guest registration form, review all the information about the reservation, get payments.

And all of a sudden, what was supposed to be the beginning of a nice journey becomes a stressful event for both guests and hoteliers.

That’s why hotel online check-in is an alternative to simplify the guest’s arrival process and to increase hotel staff productivity.

How to implement the hotel online check-in?

Instead of filling in the guest form at the front desk, guests can now check-in online prior to arrival.

Not every “check-in prior to arrival” avoids the front desk, but many do offer an express line so guests only have to grab their key and go to your room. Watch this example of Hilton’s e-check-in:

One of the traveler’s most frequently asked questions is about standard procedures in check-in and check out. Identity documents are usually requested at the check-in and if the guest is not prepared that can delay the whole operation.

A way to facilitate the check-in and check-out procedures is by providing a FAQ page, like the example below of Dorint Hotels & Resorts:

an example of hotel faq in website

The goal here is to have all important information regarding the check-in and check-out in one webpage, simple and objective, to avoid problems or repetitive questions at the front desk.

In case you are not a fan of the idea of an FAQ, you can have an online customer service platform available on your website, to answer travelers’ inquiries before they book with you. This can be done through live webchat or chatbots.

Especially in uncertain times, like now with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial hotels answer all the questions travelers might have, ensuring they can stay at the hotel with all the security they are looking for. Asksuite’s chatbot is able to answer questions related to the COVID-19 topic, like local status, hotel operations, cancellation policies.

It is also possible to insert a pre-check-in topic in the chatbot, as you can see in the example below of one of our clients:

chatbot pre arrival

To speed up, even more, the processes, big hotel brands are adopting e-check-in to digitalize and automatize these services. Here are some examples:

E-check-in for hotels

One of the hotel trends is the use of mobile apps to do e-check-in. Usually, big hotel brands choose this kind of technology.

In some cases, travelers’ smartphones serve even as digital keys that can open rooms using Bluetooth technology. In the example below, you can see how Marriott Hotels only provide this service to the members of its loyalty program:

marriot mobile check in

In addition, many hotels let the guest choose their own room, as long it is in the same category they booked. For instance, the traveler can choose between a view of the beach or the park. Furthermore, check-in time may be personalized and free of charge.

The app may also contain information about services, amenities, and lunch options like a digital concierge.

Check-in kiosks beside the front desk

In the hotel industry, there is also the option of check-in kiosks, which usually are in the hotel lobby and allow guests to skip all the traditional check-in process.

In some of Marriot International’s properties, the automated kiosks work using facial recognition. The pilot was tested in July 2018 in two of the company’s hotels in China and now Alibaba’s Fliggy online travel agency and Shiji have rolled out the technology in 50 hotels in China.

According to Marriot’s official press release, the traditional check-in process takes around 3 minutes to be completed, even more in “rush-hours”. And most part of this time is wasted in queues.

With this technology, powered by Artificial Intelligence, the check-in process is carried out in less than a minute. The guests only have to scan their identity documents, take a picture, and add personal information at the kiosk. After that, their reservations are validated through the hotel system, and the kiosk prints a key card.

Simple check-out for guests

Since we tend to remember better the last moments of the trips, it’s important to top it all off. The check-out is your last chance to impress guests.

All the processes mentioned before to speed up the check-in can also be used in check out. In some cases, with the guest’s authorization, it’s even possible to do an express check out.

That means that the guests will not need to go through the front desk to pay the bill, and they can get an invoice by email. They only need to leave their keys on the reception desk and that’s it!

This is a very much appreciated option for guests who are always running late. Sometimes, the flight departure time is dangerously close and they don’t have any minute to waste in lines. No one wants to miss a flight or, in worse scenarios, have to stay an extra night at a hotel.

When thinking about the guest experience, don’t forget the check-out process and try to make it as seamless as possible.


Which strategies does your hotel have to simplify the check-in and check-out processes? When doing this, you are not only increasing guest satisfaction but also optimizing the productivity of the front desk team.

Guests won’t waste time in queues and front desk agents won’t get bored with repeating the same things a hundred times a day. With online check-in, everybody wins, don’t you agree?

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*translated from the original “Check in online para hotéis: como acabar de vez com filas na recepção” by Paula Miranda.

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