Self Check-in Kiosks For Hotels: 2022 Hotel Kiosk Guide

By Hotel Tech Report

Last updated March 30, 2022

5 min read


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Are you grappling with a tighter budget at your hotel, a staffing shortage, or changing guest preferences toward contactless options? The hospitality industry is more resource constrained than ever and you're not alone.

It can be challenging to deliver a high standard of service when faced with constraints like reduced hotel staff due to rising labor costs. However, the guest experience doesn’t need to suffer if you have fewer employees or less face-to-face interaction. Self-service options like check-in kiosks can bring a slew of benefits to guests, employees, and hotel owners and managers.

Everyone knows that first impressions determine the majority of our perceptions about brands and people - the check-in experience is no different and it's highly correlated with overall customer satisfaction.

In this article, we’ll explain what a self check-in kiosk can do, how it plays into the contactless hotel trend, and we’ll show you how your hotel can achieve better guest satisfaction scores, higher profitability, and greater productivity by implementing self check-in kiosks.

What is a hotel self check-in kiosk?

Taking a step back, let’s define a self check-in kiosk. A kiosk is a standalone, electronic device, usually with a touchscreen, that allows users to complete tasks themselves. Perhaps you’ve used a kiosk to print your boarding pass at an airport or to purchase tickets for public transportation. These kiosks enable passengers to complete requests without assistance from a service agent. In a hotel, a self check-in kiosk solution is a similar device, but rather than providing boarding passes or train tickets, the kiosk lets a guest to check into their room by connecting directly into the hotel's PMS (property management system) via API, create room keys (key cards), and maybe even book a restaurant reservation or upgrade to a suite. Hoteliers use self-service kiosks to eliminate the hassle typically associated with hotel check-in and reduce reception desk queues.

What features do hotel check-in kiosks offer?

In a hotel, a self check-in kiosk can actually do a lot more than a simple check-in. What can a check-in kiosk do for your guests?

  • Check-in: The kiosk can handle the entire check-in process, including finding the guest’s reservation, collecting a payment method, and creating room keys that are compatible with door locks. Some kiosks have integrated document scanners that can record a copy of a passport or ID card too. Guests can complete the entire check-in process in about a minute!

  • Check-out: Rather than printing folios for every guest and sliding them under guestroom doors on the morning of check-out, you can let guests decide whether they want to print or email their receipts as they walk out of the lobby. Guests can also drop their room keys and arrange transportation upon departure.

  • Upgrades: You can generate incremental revenue by allowing guests can browse and purchase room upgrades or add-ons from the kiosk. Upselling additional services and add-ons like parking, bicycle rental, and a breakfast package/room service are all fair game. Some guests feel more comfortable buying upgrades on their own terms, rather than while interacting with a staff member.

  • Service requests: Guests can notify the front desk about any type of request, like asking for additional towels or to replace a lightbulb, without having to pick up the phone or wait in line to speak to someone in person. Employees can also benefit from the opportunity to triage and track these requests when they come in electronically.

  • Hotel information: Guests can browse information about your F&B outlets, spa, pool, parking options, neighborhood recommendations, and more on the kiosk interface. 

  • Reservations: Some kiosks also allow guests to create, modify, or cancel their reservations, similar to the functionality of the booking engine on your website.

  • Payment processing: Check-in kiosks must handle registration forms and credit card processing meaning that these systems can also reduce chargebacks and prevent fraud.

Basically, a kiosk can handle nearly any task that does not require assistance from a human. It can also house any hotel information that might otherwise be printed in a guestbook or posted on signage.

How can self check-in kiosks benefit your hotel?

All of the features of self check-in kiosks might sound cool and modern, but kiosks are by no means some kind of flashy gimmick. Through technology, your hotel can gain some real benefits, like incremental revenue and higher guest review scores. So how exactly can self check-in kiosks bring these benefits to your property?

  • Shorter wait times at the front desk can lead to higher guest review scores. If guests don’t really need to speak to a human, they can quickly resolve their needs (like checking in or checking out) with a kiosk, which performs tasks quickly and efficiently. When more guests use the kiosks, fewer guests are left waiting in line at the front desk, so guests who truly need in-person assistance from a front desk agent can get it more quickly.

  • Kiosks allow for social distancing and contactless service, which makes guests and employees more comfortable. When guests are confident that the hotel has adequate safety and hygiene measures, they are more likely to book. And when employees feel comfortable at work, turnover can be reduced.

  • Upsell opportunities can drive incremental revenue. A self check-in kiosk can make upsell options accessible to everyone, and this incremental revenue can be an important factor in your bottom line, especially during a time when every dollar counts.

  • Automation of repetitive tasks lets your employees work more efficiently. If half of your guests check in on kiosks, then you will have less front desk roles to fill, and your front desk agents can spend their time on more meaningful tasks, like building relationships with guests and resolving complaints.

  • Kiosks can reduce your environmental footprint by cutting down on paper use. In many hotels, front desk agents get in the habit of printing receipts and handing out maps of the local area, which uses a lot of paper over time. When guests control their own check-in and check-out experience, they can choose whether or not to get printed documents, and many guests will opt for electronic versions.

What are some other considerations of self check-in kiosks?

While self check-in kiosks certainly come with a lot of advantages, they might not be the best solution for every hotel. When you’re deciding whether kiosks make sense for your property, you’ll want to weigh the upfront cost, the fit with your typical clientele, and how the kiosks can integrate with your brand and design.

When it comes to cost, there’s no denying that kiosks come with an upfront financial investment. Self check-in kiosks can pay for themselves over time, but it could take a couple years for the cost savings that kiosks bring to make up for the initial spend. If your hotel is strapped for cash, then kiosks might not make sense at this time; however, you might be able to make a business case for why kiosks are a smarter investment long-term than hiring additional front desk agents.

Besides the cost, you’ll need to assess whether kiosks are a good fit for your guest profile and for your brand image. If your typical guest is elderly or less tech-savvy, then kiosks might end up causing more confusion than they solve for, and you might need staff members to help guests use the kiosks. If many of your guests are international, then kiosks could be a great addition to your lobby, as long as you invest in good translations of your content. And if your hotel has a historic or traditional look and feel that is integral to the experience, then directing guests to use cutting-edge tech might conflict with the experience you’re trying to create, although you may be able to find a creative way to blend old and new.

Hotel management is complex but software can help eliminate many of the tedious or repetitive tasks.  Want to enable the same functionality across hotel guests' personal devices to facilitate self-service check-in without clunky hardware? 

Read our guide to contactless check-in solutions.  Still have questions about hotel self check-in kiosks? Let us know!

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