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Articles Guest experience All you need to know about online check-in for your hotel

53%: that's the percentage of hotel customers, according to a Coach Omnium study, who are frustrated by the time wasted during check-in or check-out. Whether it's the queues, the complexity of procedures, or their administrative nature, both check-in and check-out are real sources of friction in the customer experience.

Faced with these frustrations, the emergence of online check-in solutions in recent years is easily understandable. So, let's be clear: it's no longer a question of 'if' but 'when' you will adopt it. Because yes, online check-in is not just a passing trend. It's a direct evolution of your customers' expectations in the digital age.

As a hotelier, understanding and adopting this trend is not only about gaining efficiency or convenience; it's an essential strategy to enhance customer satisfaction, optimize your operations, and stay competitive.

In this article, we will delve into the world of online check-in for hotels. From how it benefits both customers and hoteliers to its integration into the traveler's journey, we will cover it all. You will have all the keys to understand why this innovation is on its way to becoming the new standard in the hotel industry.

I. How does online check-in work?

Very simply. The procedure takes less than 5 minutes for travelers.

1. A few days before their arrival, the customer receives a reminder to complete their online check-in.

2. Through a platform or an application, the customer provides the necessary details, such as an ID and credit card information for any extras.

3. Upon successful completion, a confirmation is sent, and the data is transmitted to your hotel management system (PMS).

4. Upon arrival at the hotel, the customer can proceed directly to their room if they have a digital key or briefly visit the reception to retrieve a physical key, without having to fill out any additional forms.

II. The benefits you provide to your guests with online check-in:


After a long journey, travelers often only aspire to one thing: to go to their room and take a shower. Thanks to online check-in, they can register before their arrival, avoid the queue at the reception, and go straight to their room.

Result? An optimized experience upon arrival and a sense of satisfaction from the first moments of their stay.

Comfort / Convenience / Autonomy

Travelers are increasingly connected and seek solutions that allow them to manage their reservations independently. Online check-in perfectly meets this demand.

Specifically, check-in via an application: according to a Statista study on preferred tools for hotel check-in and check-out, 62% of customers prefer the application, far ahead of reception desks... As a hotelier, this is a clear indication of the direction the industry is heading.

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Preferred tools of hotel customers for check-in and check-out


Beyond the mere act of checking in, online check-in also opens the door to a tailored experience. Customers can select room preferences or add additional services during the process. Online check-in thus offers the opportunity to customize their stay in advance, ensuring an experience that truly aligns with the expectations and desires of each client.

III. Advantages for Your Property

Operations Optimization

Every hotelier is familiar with the stress and pressure during peak hours at the reception, especially during massive group arrivals or peak seasons. Online check-in can greatly alleviate this situation. Not only do your customers check in themselves, thus reducing your staff's workload, but it also minimizes manual input errors. The result is a more serene and personalized welcome, where your team can focus on the relational aspect and hospitality rather than just data entry.

Customer Data Utilization

Thanks to online check-in, you have the opportunity to collect valuable data in advance, whether it's about room preferences, habits, or specific requests. This information allows you to create a tailored experience for each customer, strengthening their attachment to your establishment.

Payment Security through Pre-Authorization

Pre-authorization of payments, made possible with online check-in, is an additional guarantee for you as a hotelier. It secures reservations by ensuring that funds are available. This limits unpleasant surprises, including no-shows, which can impact your establishment's profitability.

Opportunities for Upselling

Online check-in is also a perfect platform to offer additional services or upgrades to your customers. Imagine: as a customer checks in, an offer for a relaxing massage after their long journey or a suggestion for an upgrade to a suite pops up. It's a golden opportunity to increase your revenue while further enhancing your customers' experience.

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Additional Best Practices:

💬 Notification SMS: When the room is ready, sending an SMS is an excellent way to encourage the customer to complete their online check-in.

📱 Digital Keys: Modern solutions often allow the use of a smartphone as a key. Not only does this provide an extra level of convenience for the customer, but it also reduces physical contact and the need for physical equipment.

Express Check-in Queue: If you don't have a reception kiosk for key pick-up to complement the self-check-in process, you can set up a specific queue for express check-ins where people can head to upon arrival at the hotel.

Despite all these advantages, due to its novelty, online check-in still raises many questions. Here, we've chosen to address the 7 most frequently asked questions by our clients on this topic, hoping it will also help you gain a clearer understanding.

IV. Frequently Asked Questions about Online Check-in

1. Is it compatible with my current Property Management System (PMS)?

A crucial and highly important question to validate before considering offering online check-in. Any quality online check-in solution should be able to seamlessly integrate with your current Property Management System (PMS). At Bowo, our check-in solution seamlessly integrates with over thirty PMS systems (Opera, Mews, Protel, Apaleo, Cloudbeds, Hoteliga…).

2. Is it secure?

Online check-in is generally designed with high cybersecurity standards, complying with regulations such as GDPR to ensure optimal protection of user data. Nevertheless, make sure that your check-in platform complies with international security standards.

3. Will there still be a need for staff at the reception?

Yes, online check-in streamlines certain tasks, but staff remains essential to address requests, manage unexpected situations, and provide an irreplaceable human touch.

4. How to handle upgrades, special requests, and upselling?

Online solutions can integrate upselling offers during the check-in process. For example, with Bowo's Guest App, this step occurs right after verifying the traveler's identity (ID scan), and the displayed offers can be tailored based on the client's stay information.

5. Will this work for groups or multiple reservations?

Yes, most solutions are designed to handle both individual and multiple reservations.

6. What is the Return on Investment (ROI)?

It's challenging to isolate the impact of online check-in alone. As we discuss in the later part of the article, online check-in should be part of a broader consideration regarding streamlining the customer journey and should be adopted with complementary tools.

For instance, our partner hotel, '1926 Le Soleil Hôtel & Spa,' generated €4868.95 in less than a month through online check-in, coupled with the Guest App that allows room service orders and activity reservations through a smartphone. The ROI can be quickly achieved with proper execution."

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Bowo Guest App Dashboard - Revenue generated in the last 30 days by 1926 Le Soleil Hotel

7. Does entering a credit card on the Guest App allow the transmission of credit card data to the PMS?

For security and data privacy reasons, we do not transmit credit card information to the PMS. We transfer the charged amount to both the PMS and the payment platform, but the credit card data is only stored in the payment platform.

V. Online check-in should be part of an overall consideration for streamlining the guest journey

Indeed, online check-in is crucial. However, it's just one step in the guest journey. Modern hospitality requires a holistic approach, integrating every stage of the customer's journey to provide an impeccable experience.

So, let's step back. What are the current pain points? Incomplete information before arrival, those endless lines at reception, unaddressed personal needs (like food allergies or a simple baby cot), lack of local tips, room issues, or the feeling of searching for a needle in a haystack to contact the staff. And what about those lingering checkouts or the radio silence after the stay?

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Mapping of the main pain points encountered by travelers

By digitizing the customer relationship, the experience is enriched for both clients and staff. This is where the Bowo platform comes into play: it offers a full digital arsenal at your service, designed to cover the entire customer journey.

Among its strengths:

  • The Guest App, a multilingual web application: it informs clients and allows them to order and book hotel services directly from their smartphones.
  • The chatbot: a true virtual assistant, answers 80% of the most frequently asked questions by clients, at any time of the day or night.
  • The Communication Hub: it centralizes different communication channels, thus grouping the exchanges with each client (email, SMS, Whatsapp...).
  • And let's not forget the CRM that segments and personalizes your communications based on client profiles and preferences.

Thus, before arrival, Bowo prepares the ground.

  • Your clients receive pre-stay communications, welcoming them and informing them of your exclusive offers.
  • They plan their stay with tailor-made recommendations: restaurants, activities, insider tips, and much more.
  • You better understand their expectations through a pre-stay questionnaire.

On-site? The Bowo experience is comprehensive.

  • Online check-in eliminates the wait.
  • With their smartphone, they open their room and access all your services (room service orders, massage booking, digital press, etc.)
  • The cocktail of the day, a spa promotion? They are notified in real-time.
  • And if a problem arises, our incident reporting tool is there to inform you.

After their stay? Bowo continues the journey.

  • Targeted communications to enhance their loyalty.
  • You boost your e-reputation by encouraging them to share their experience.

Ready to transform your clients' experience, save time, and generate additional revenue? Request a Bowo demo.

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