Does Accor's new streamlined check-in process in practice as advertised? We're not sure, but it potentially is a great way to personalise service and make a lasting impression with the guest.
Accor, the hotel chain with brands ranging from Sofitel to Novotel and Ibis, revamped the check-in process based on a radical idea: It wants its staff to provide personalised service instead of being bogged down filling out paperwork to register guests.
With that in mind, guests at 60 of its properties in 13 countries, primarily in Europe, can check in online up to two days before arrival via accorhotels.com, the brands’ websites, the brands mobile sites, their mobile apps or over the phone.
The hotel industry is in the midst or reinventing the guest check-in process, with options ranging from advance check-ins to high-tech room keys and wearables. Accor’s new check-in process should be viewed in this context.
Accor’s guests can do this advance check-in only if they’ve have booked their reservation directly through Accor or if they are loyalty program members or subscription cardholders.
On the day of the stay, guests receive a welcome text message confirming that the room key and room are available. The text may also provide practical tips about the property, such as ground transportation information and parking access codes, for example.
Each brand is in the process of tailoring this check-in process to their own needs, Accor says.
When guests arrive at the property instead of needing to provide credit card information and fill out paperwork, the hotel staff is supposed to greet them immediately upon arrival in the lobby or possibly even in the hotel bar, hand them their room key, and answer any questions or handle special requests, Accor says.
The checkout process has also been streamlined, Accor says, with guests merely having to return their keys to indicate they are checking out. Guests can receive their receipts via email. Many hotels have been doing this for years.
Accor says that one of the reasons it rolled out the new check-in/checkout solution is to adapt to travelers’ mobile habits as the chain estimates 47% of travel searches take place via mobile.
Christine Pouletty, who managed the project’s introduction, says early feedback shows that 93% of guests who used the service during a trial period indicated they would do so again. And, 40% of guests did the advance check-in with their smartphones, she adds.
“Queues are diminishing and hoteliers are more available for their guests,” Pouletty says. “They can devote themselves completely to their passion, the job of host.”
Accor’s goal is to have the service in place at 1,000 of its 3,600 properties by the end of 2014.
Precisely how each of Accor’s brands is customizing the new check-in/checkout procedures is a apparently a work in progress.
“They’re working on it to fit each brand’s service offering, depending on their segment, market positioning and establishments’ specificities,” Pouletty says. “Some brands test a new design in their lobbies and may welcome online checked-in guests in a non-classical aera like the bar etc.”
Accor has around 17 brands ranging from economy to luxury.
Here’s a suggestion: Perhaps properties could have a welcome drink in hand for arriving guests who have already checked-in online or via an app? Or even asking them for their favorite beverage during the check-in process? That would be a nice touch, and something guests would assuredly remember.
Below is an Accor video outlining how its new check-in process is designed to work:
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Photo credit: A staff member at a Mercure Hotel greets a guest who has checked in online in advance of her stay. Hotel staff can be ready with room keys when guests arrive, eliminating the need for the more formal check-in process. Accor Hotels