The 2023 Guide to Self-Check-in Kiosks for Hotels

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
October 24, 2023
October 24, 2023
The 2023 Guide to Self-Check-in Kiosks for Hotels

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation in the hospitality industry, with contactless technology gaining immense popularity. Over half of travelers are eager to see permanent adoption of contactless check-in and checkout in the next three years. This technology not only benefits guests but also eases the workload for staff, especially in an industry known for high turnover rates. With turnover rates in hotels at a staggering 73.8%, digital transformation is enhancing guest experiences and reducing staff burdens.

One such innovation is the introduction of self-check-in kiosks. These kiosks represent a significant step toward streamlining the guest experience and meeting evolving traveler preferences.

What is a self-check-in kiosk for hotels?

Self-check-in kiosks are electronic devices (often a touch screen found in the lobby of a hotel). They enable guests to check in without assistance from your hotel staff.

With self-check-in kiosks, guests can fill out pre-stay information like name, address and credit card information. They can also understand the terms and conditions of their stay.

It's a handy alternative to paper or PDF registration cards, often stored in filing cabinets. Kiosks can help hotels streamline data collection within the cloud and stay PCI DSS compliant. And with the rollout of PCI DSS 4.0, this is becoming ever more important.

How self-check-in kiosks work

Self-check-in kiosks are convenient, quick and easy for guests to use—and for you to manage. They aren’t dissimilar to those used to check-in at airports and enable guests to check in at their own pace and access their rooms quickly. Kiosks also offer a level of personalization. Guests can choose their preferred room or make special requests, such as extra pillows or early check-in.

Because of this level of customization, the check-in process with a kiosk may not be the same for every hotel. Here’s what a guest might experience when checking in through a kiosk:

  • Reservation verification: Instead of filling out paper or PDF registration cards, guests can start the check-in process by entering their credit card information, scanning a reservation barcode or entering their booking information manually.
  • Identification and verification: Kiosks enable you to ask guests for identification, such as a passport or ID.
  • Room selection: Guests can view a list of available rooms and select the one that suits them best, depending on availability and preferences. The kiosk could display room details and sometimes even floor plans and pictures to help guests make a more informed choice.
  • Payment and authorization: If payment is required or if there are additional charges (e.g., for room upgrades or incidentals), guests can complete the transaction using a credit card. The kiosk will typically authorize the card and provide a receipt.
  • Key issuance: Once the check-in process is complete, the kiosk will generate a digital key (usually a mobile app) which grants access to an assigned room. This key is encoded with information like checkout date and room number.
  • Information and assistance: Self-check-in kiosks often provide information about your amenities, nearby attractions and dining options.
  • Receipt and confirmation: After check-in, the kiosk can provide a printed or digital receipt confirming reservation details, including check-in and checkout dates.

The drawbacks of manual check-in

While manual check-in is still crucial (especially for guests who prefer it), relying on it alone can slow down your operations and impact your guest experience. Afterall, the last thing guests want to do is line up for an extended period after a long journey.

Then there’s your staff’s workload. Hotel staff members responsible for manual check-in processes may become overwhelmed during peak periods, which can impact their ability to provide personalized service to guests.

Manual check-in also leads to paper wastage, and manual input of information. Workers may experience language barriers and guests may feel uncomfortable sharing personal information in a public and often crowded lobby.

9 benefits of implementing self-check-in kiosks

Self-check-in kiosks have become increasingly popular in the hospitality industry, offering an efficient and tech-savvy alternative to traditional manual check-in methods. But why? Let’s look at the benefits these kiosks bring to hotels:

1. Reduced check-in times

Check-in kiosks typically expedite the check-in process, enabling guests to complete their check-in quickly and avoid long lines at the front desk. Guests will no longer need to wait in long lines to be checked-in.

2. Enhanced convenience

Guests have the flexibility to check in at their convenience, whether that's upon arrival or in advance via a mobile app. They can also choose their room from available options, providing a sense of control over their stay.

3. 24/7 availability

Self-check-in kiosks are available around the clock, enabling guests to check in at any time, even outside regular front desk hours. This is especially useful for late arrivals or unexpected travel delays.

4. Improved privacy and security

Some guests may feel uncomfortable sharing personal information in a public and often crowded lobby area. Kiosks keep your guests’ data safe, accurate and secure while speeding up the process.

Self-check-in kiosks are PCI and GDPR-compliant and remove the need for paper or PDF registration cards. Some guests may also prefer a more private check-in experience.

5. Reduced human error

Self-check-in kiosks minimize the risk of human error, such as mistyped information or miscommunication between guests and front desk staff.

Reduce Human Error

6. No printing or paper required

Paper or PDF registration cards add to your hotel’s wastage. Transferring this information to the cloud is a great way to be more sustainable and free up space in your front office.

Registration cards are stored indefinitely in the cloud after the guest has departed the property. This makes it easy to retrieve returning guest information and boosts your sustainability efforts.

7. Integrations

Manual check-in often requires the manual input of information. This can lead to errors and wasted time. Capturing sensitive information digitally helps you transfer guest data to your PMS.

Self-check-in kiosks integrate seamlessly with existing technologies like your property management system (PMS). This removes the need to manually enter information.

8. Enhanced data capture

Kiosks enable you to update existing reservations, including those booked via online travel agencies (OTAs), with accurate guest contact info, marketing opt-in, loyalty interest, and more.

9. Cater to guest preferences

While some guests may enter their check-in information before arrival, self-check-in kiosks give guests a fast way to check-in. All without having to queue.

Choosing a self-check-in kiosk? Here’s what to look for

Picking the right self-check-in kiosk technology can mean the difference between a streamlined guest experience and a frustrating one. Here are a few things to look for:

1. Security and compliance

According to IBM Security, the global average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million. Security is no laughing matter. Look for a kiosk that protects customer data and secures transactions.

The best way to check that a solution will offer the best security available is to look for confirmation that it is PCI DSS 4.0 compliant. PCI compliance, created by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, is a set of guidelines businesses need to follow when accepting, storing, processing and transmitting payment cards.

2. Ease of use

The solution should be user-friendly. Kiosks should enable guests to check in with minimal effort or wait times and offer an intuitive interface. It should be easy for guests to navigate, regardless of their technical proficiency.

Look for clear, intuitive menus, touchscreen functionality and straightforward instructions. If technical errors do arise, it should be easy for guests to request help through the kiosk.

Hotel staff should have the ability to monitor the kiosk system remotely. This enables them to provide immediate assistance to guests, especially in the event of technical issues.

3. Integrations with key components of your hotel tech stack

Kiosks should easily integrate with any existing hotel technology. Seamless integration is essential for real-time synchronization of guest data across all hotel systems and departments. Here are a few considerations when it comes to integrations:

  • Property management systems (PMS): The most crucial integration is with your hotel’s PMS. Guest and hotel data should be synchronized in real-time between the kiosk and your PMS.
  • Room key and access control integration: The kiosk should integrate with your access control system to provide guests with digital keys. The kiosk could also generate and transmit digital keys to guests' smartphones, granting them secure access to their rooms and other authorized areas within the property.
  • Payment gateway integration: Integration with a secure payment gateway enables guests to pay for their room charges, incidentals, and security deposits using various payment methods through the kiosk.
  • Customer relationship management integration: Integration with a CRM system enables you to access guest profiles, preferences, and historical data. This information helps you personalize the guest experience, offer targeted promotions, and give guests a tailored stay.
  • Housekeeping and maintenance systems: Integration with housekeeping and maintenance systems enables the kiosk to communicate room readiness and cleanliness status in real time. This ensures that only clean and prepared rooms are assigned to guests during check-in.

4. Customization and accessibility

For a consistent, inclusive, and branded guest experience, it should be possible to customize your kiosks to the needs of each hotel, including language options, registration flows and branding.

The kiosk should also have a focus on accessibility. Features like adjustable screen heights for guests in wheelchairs, larger text for those with visual impairments and audio instructions for those who are visually or hearing impaired, help guests feel valued and comfortable.

Customization and accessibility

5. Features that suit your needs

You may have an idea of what features and tasks you would like your hotel check-in kiosk to come with, but if you don’t, here are a few useful things to look for:

  • Check-in: The kiosk should provide an alternative check-in method, from finding your guests’ reservations and taking payment.
  • Checkout: Enable guests to checkout via your kiosks and to collect receipts, drop room keys or arrange transportation.
  • Upgrades: Kiosks can help you earn ancillary revenue by upselling add-ons or services such as parking, spa treatments or transport.
  • Hotel information: Kiosks should provide all relevant hotel information such as check-in and checkout times, your F&B offerings, or pool opening times, for example. You could also offer information about the local area.
  • Payment processing: Self-check-in kiosks should handle credit card authorizations and payments.

6. Scalability

Ensure the kiosk can scale to accommodate a growing number of guests. Here are a few things to consider where scalability is concerned:

  • Number of kiosks: The solution should enable you to add or remove kiosks as needed to meet demand. For instance, a hotel might start with a few kiosks in the lobby and expand to additional areas or floors as the property grows.
  • Property size: Hotels come in various sizes, from small independent lodges to massive resort complexes. A scalable kiosk solution should be able to serve the needs of properties of different sizes and layouts.
  • Peak vs. off-peak season: Some hotels experience significant fluctuations in occupancy and guest check-in/checkout patterns between high and low seasons. Scalable kiosks can be easily adjusted to accommodate varying guest volumes.

7. Guest experience platform

Standalone self-check-in kiosks help streamline key but limited parts of the guest journey. Consider improving the broader guest journey by choosing a solution that is part of a guest experience platform. With integrations to other technologies including guest messages and upsells, guest experience platforms help you increase revenue, boost staff efficiency and maximize guest satisfaction.

Self Check-in Kiosks Enhance the Customer Experience

Prioritizing convenience within your hotel is a great way to enrich your guest experience—and journey! From pre-arrival to checkout, the right technology has a big impact on the satisfaction of your guests and workforce.

Self-check-in kiosks enable you to speed up operations, reduce wait times, improve privacy and security, and so much more.

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