5 tips for reducing waiting times at hotel reception
The problem is not new: nothing annoys hotel guests more than having to wait at reception. Whether it’s to check in on arrival or to get information during their stay, queuing at the front desk is an unpleasant experience that can quickly have a negative impact on your hotel’s reputation. And the shortage of staff in the hotel industry (estimated at 1.2 million hospitality workers in 2022 by the European Travel Commission) doesn’t help matters. Fortunately, there are technological solutions that can help you reduce queues at the reception, supporting both your guests and staff.
So, how do you clear the endless queues at your hotel reception and make sure your guests leave with a smile? Here are a few ideas.
1. Offer online check-in and check-out
According to a study conducted by Coach Omnium, a French firm specialising in consultancy and marketing and economic studies for the hotel industry, 53% of hotel guests are irritated by the time wasted on arrival and departure. That’s understandable. After a long journey, no one wants to have their patience tested by waiting in line at the hotel reception. Whether you want to rest in your room or drop off your suitcases before going to explore the city, check-in should be as simple as it is fast. And similarly, at the end of the stay, travellers are often in a hurry, with tight schedules to meet for their return flight or train, and certainly don’t want to waste time queuing to check out.
What’s the solution? Offer online check-in and check-out! How does it work? All you need to do is to send an online pre-registration form to your guests. They can then enter all their personal information directly on the form before they arrive. Once they arrive, they won’t need to do this again, which means less time spent at the front desk. The same applies to checking out. All you have to do is send an online check-out form, and that’s it.
But you still have to remember to send these forms in advance of the guest’s arrival. HiJiffy’s solution automates the sending of pre-check-in and check-out forms via WhatsApp, thanks to integration with your PMS. No more worries! This AI-powered solution takes care of it for you, saving time and work for your hotel teams. With an opening rate of more than 80% on WhatsApp, this allows hotels to digitise around 6 out of 10 check-ins, which significantly reduces queues at reception when guests arrive.
2. Offer a digital key
But, even if your guests manage to self-check in via a pre-check-in form sent before their arrival, don’t they still need to go to the front desk to pick up their key? Not necessarily, because it is also possible to offer digital keys, thus avoiding any visit to the front desk when guests arrive or leave.
What is a digital key? As the name suggests, it is a digital key that allows guests to access their room without the need for a physical key. Instead of using a magnetic card or any other type of key, hotel guests open the door to their room using their smartphone or mobile app.
With HiJiffy’s Guest Communication Hub, you can combine the automatic sending of the pre-registration form with a digital key. And just like that, no need to wait in line at your hotel’s reception.
3. Offer self-check-in terminals
In the same vein, another way to avoid queues at reception by automating check-in and check-out is to offer automatic check-in terminals. Unlike with online check-in, here, guests check in on-site but do not need to be assisted by your reception staff. How? They can check in themselves on arrival by entering their personal details directly in the terminal. They will be then assigned a room and a key without the need for them to go to the front desk.
The same goes for check-out. They can pay their bill and put their key back in the terminal, thus avoiding queues at reception.
4. Engage a virtual concierge
Waiting at the front desk doesn’t only happen at the time of arrival and departure. During their stay, guests may have questions, want to book other services in your hotel or ask for local recommendations. That’s when a virtual concierge can turn out to be a handy support to your staff. But what is it? A virtual concierge is an AI-powered technology that helps assist hotel guests by handling their requests. In other words, it allows guests to get answers to their questions completely digitally without having to go to the front desk.
Need to ask what time breakfast is served or book a table in the hotel restaurant? No problem! Guest requests and queries are processed automatically at any time of the day or night. The HiJiffy in-stay solution is available 24/7 in over 130 languages. Say goodbye to front desk queues!
This applies not only to on-site guests but also to future guests who want to get information over the phone. HiJiffy’s conversational AI automatically resolves more than 85% of questions, significantly decreasing the number of incoming calls. Lake District Hotels, a group of family-run hotels in England, implemented HiJiffy’s solution and observed a decrease in incoming calls by 70% while increasing its direct bookings. Yes, having a virtual concierge will not only allow you to reduce the waiting times at the front desk but also increase your revenue.
5. Offer a dedicated queue to customers who are members of the loyalty programme
Finally, another way to minimise the queue at the front desk of your hotel is to set up a dedicated queue for guests who are members of the loyalty programme. This makes it possible to better manage the flow of customers at the front desk while offering a personalised service for loyal customers.
Offering a dedicated queue for loyalty programme members can also give you a competitive advantage. It incentivises more guests to choose your hotel over the competition, and, at the same time, it encourages guests who are not members of your loyalty programme to join.
By applying these tips, you can put an end to long queues at the reception and, above all, ensure your guests arrive and leave your hotel with a smile (and hopefully leave a glowing review!).
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