Why Mastering Mobile Check-In is Essential for Hotels

The U.S. travel industry is expected to grow 22% from 2015 to 2020. Digital media is playing a critical role in that growth as consumers crave the ability to do anything and everything from their mobile devices. Hotel companies are beginning to listen and are pushing for large-scale changes to their digital footprint to meet these needs.

Simplification of tasks is cited as the most important factor in the mobile travel experience. The booking process has drastically improved over the years, but it’s the first touchpoint upon entering a hotel—checking in—that is giving hotels an issue.

The Importance of Mobile Check-In

Whether you are traveling for business or traveling for leisure, maximizing your time is always a priority. Time spent waiting in lines could be time spent preparing for a meeting or seeing a local landmark.

Check-in can be quick and painless at times, but travelers want the guaranteed convenience of a frictionless experience. Mobile check-in is the gateway to that ideal experience for a few simple reasons. It can:

  1. Provide flexibility and not penalize customers for arriving late.
  2. Limit cultural and language barriers with front desk associates.
  3. Reduce waiting time and unwanted interaction with staff.
  4. Build trust in future mobile experiences by the hotel.

Where Mobile Check-In Stands

Hotels have been offering this service since 2014, but adoption of hotel apps has been surprisingly slow over the years. According to a 2017 study by J.D. Power, only 19% of hotel guests have ever downloaded a hotel app. Of that subset, only 4% of their check-ins are done through the app.

That means one of two things—either the mobile check-in experience is sorely lacking, or developers are not making the check-in feature as intuitive as it should be. Either way, this is a critical first step to get consumers to download and begin using hotels’ mobile apps.

Currently, mobile check-in offers a handful of features (depending on the hotel) including room selection, status upgrades, and expedited check-in either through an express line or a kiosk (in some cases). The use of mobile room keys is available in certain cases, but the technology and associated costs to implement has limited how widespread the practice can go.

With that said, if hotels can’t master the features currently offered, consumers will lose faith in them before further enhancements come along.

Where Developers Need Help

For consumers to adopt mobile check-in as a regular piece of their travel experiences, there are several issues that need to be sorted out first—many of which can be resolved through more rigorous software testing procedures.

The best and most efficient way to resolve these issues is through crowdtesting. It’s the only way to truly test the convergence between the physical and digital worlds. That intersection is exactly where the hotel industry finds itself today.

One of the biggest issues expressed by consumers using mobile check-in was room selection. Only 5% of users believed they were actually assigned the room they booked during mobile check-in. Though consumers would consider a feature like this to be a luxury, if it’s offered, they have the expectation that it will work. The same goes for status upgrades and other associated features.

You can test these issues in a sterile lab environment, but you won’t receive the feedback that really matters. With crowdtesting, companies can have their apps tested by their target demographic, but that just scratches the surface. You can go a step further by testing with actual customers or rewards members—on your properties, anywhere in the world.

This is the type of feedback that will ultimately make or break the success of an app. It’s in your hands to give consumers what they want. So why not begin with where the consumers do? At check-in.

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Jay Selig
Reading time: 5 min

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