- How does hotel registration check-in work?
- Why are check-in bottlenecks such a big problem?
- How to solve the front desk check-in problem?
- The solution - PassportScan Project Details
- 1 The integration to system
- 2 System synchronization
- 3 Instantly Accessible Design
- 4 Hotel App Testing
Hotels and hospitality is an industry where efficient and smooth workflow is one of the major requirements. Since this is a kind of service that needs to make their customers happy and satisfied by the experience - it is critical to handle efficiently.
The whole process needs to avoid any discomfort and provide as much worth every step of the way as possible. It is a big undertaking since almost every step contains logistical and managerial challenges.
One of the biggest challenges of hotel and hospitality service comes at the very beginning - hotel guest check-in.
Let’s explain why.
Hotel check-in (aka registering or signing-in) is a procedure that announces the arrival of the particular customer (also known as a guest) to the hotel. It is a formal start of providing a hospitality service.
- Usual check-in operation involves the following steps:
- Checking the identification and booking documents;
- Scanning the documents and adding them to the hotel database;
- Confirming the guest’s personal information;
- Informing the guest of the rules of the hotel;
- Validating the proceedings with the signature;
- Arranging additional services (in-room internet, mini-bar, etc.);
- Giving the keys to the room - formal conclusion of the check-in process;
Steps 1 through 5 usually takes the most time due to the sensitive nature of the information that requires precise accuracy.
The result is an unintended consequence of bottleneck occurring at the hotel front desk check-in. Let’s explain why this is such a big problem.
What is a bottleneck? It is a management term for the damaging feature of the workflow that results in the slowdown or even blocks the whole of the production due to limited resources or insufficiently planned elements of the flow.
In the context of the hotel and hospitality industry, front desk check-in is the part of the hotel workflow where bottlenecks occur most frequently. The direct aftermath of having a bottleneck in the working process is:
- Low productivity on a particular stage of the process;
- Pressure from the guests being forced to wait for their turn;
- Lowered morale of the hotel personnel overwhelmed by the tension of seeming unending scope of work;
The problem of the bottleneck on the hotel check-in stage rises from several sources:
- Check-in process requires a thorough check of the sensitive information and its approval by both involved parties. The checking takes some time to get it done.
- Lack of trained staff able to handle the proceedings at an acceptable pace without making mistakes.
- Lack of technical resources to serve customers at a higher pace. Most of the small-to-mid level hotels only have one or two computer terminals to enter the information to the database.
- Too many incoming guests. More often than not, the guests are arriving in organized parties. Because a thorough check-in process makes everyone else waiting, which is usually a frustrating experience after a long hard road.
The question is - how to solve all these issues and turn sometimes bumpy ride of a check-in into effortlessness process?
Our company was approached to figure out and develop a solution that would streamline the check-in procedure, make it more comfortable and at the same time more accurate.
The client wanted to make the check-in process of his hotels more efficient. The existing operation was very too clumsy and required too much fuss to get things done. The results were frequent bottlenecks and unhappy guests.
There was a need in a significant streamlining.
The venues already had an existing hotel front desk app for scanning and classification of the documents. The rest of the check-in procedures are manual. It wasn’t enough to provide front desk check-in service at the proper pace.
Check-in process consists of multiple steps that involve sensitive information and require verification every step of the way.
From the technical standpoint - this is a major challenge. The goal is to compress the majority of the process into a single tool.
The primary requirements for the hotel check-in bottleneck solution are:
- The versatility of the tool - so that it would cover every stage of the check-in process;
- Accessibility of operation - so that the guests themselves could do;
Our solution was to develop a mobile/tablet version of the check-in app with scanning/classification features and also guest onboarding with all the relevant information.
The advantages of this format are the following:
- The process of registration is pared down to the bare essentials - the information input and verification;
- As a result, the operation is compressed into a couple of clicks and takes significantly less time;
- Also, registration can be less dependent on the hotel manager and mostly handled by the guest;
- Since this is a mobile app - it doesn’t even need hotel hardware and can be installed directly on the guest’s phone/tablet.
This research laid the foundation for the PassportScan application.
Initially, The App Solutions intended to develop a mobile/tablet version of the hotel registration application. However, after thorough research of the technical solutions, it was decided to create a mobile app from the ground up using the conceptual framework of the desktop app.
The pipeline of the hotel mobile check-in app consists of the following elements:
- Input interface
- Image Recognition
- Document Classification
- Database integration
We had an existing solution for image recognition and classification and developed a specialized hotel check-in app framework.
Overall, the system is designed to perform the following operations:
- Hotel registration/check-in service
- Basic booking and identification credentials input
- Image Recognition
- Capturing the images of the document
- Classification and verification of the relevant elements.
- Editing of the recognized elements
- Electronic Signature Input
- Additional Information input fields
- Server Notification for the completion of the registration cycle.
As a result, the check-in app had substantially streamlined the workflow and made the pace of hotel check-in much simpler and faster.
The Technological Stack of the project was:
- Regula SDK analogous
- Native Android Development Toolkit
- iOS Development Kit
The personnel of the project was the following:
- Project manager
- iOS developer
- Android developer
- QA engineer
- Business Analyst
The PassportScan project had a short but incredibly intense development cycle. Due to previous experience with such types of applications - we have managed to deploy it on over a month since the start of the project.
This accomplishment was made possible through close communication and collaboration between the client and the team.
The other contributing factor to fast deployment was compliance with the agile methodology. That brought additional flexibility to the operation and allowed us to adapt to the situation without any discomfort.
We had a clear vision of the project and strictly defined goals. The development plan was arranged to avoid needless hesitation.
Since the application is a part of the larger infrastructure - the biggest challenge of the project was to integrate it with the system and avoid any possibility of the glitch due to incompatibility of the elements.
In order to do that, at each stage of the development, we have applied multiple compatibility tests. We have tested:
- The filling of the guest profile;
- The notifications to the server;
- The process of backing up the collected data into the system’s cache during the proceeding;
In addition to that, we made a large scale Back-end optimization for every element of the system.
Synchronization of the information turnaround was the most crucial element of the integration proceedings.
The thing is - such a hotel check-in app depends on the connection with the database, and this makes input data vulnerable for loss or corruption due to unforeseen technical glitches.
We needed to secure tight connection between the elements of the system - so that the information sent from the app would wind up in the database as it is supposed to and not the other way around.
Our solution was to design a data middle ground in the app in which the complete information about the session is backed-up while it goes on. Instead of sending information to the database in pieces, the data is sent as a whole upon completing the procedure.
As a tool aimed at fighting hotel front desk check-in bottlenecks and streamlining the workflow - our primary goal while figuring out the design scheme was to make it seamless and completely intuitive.
We wanted to make a layout that would be instantly understandable for the majority of the client segments - from the tech illiterates to casual tech users to technauts.
Because of that, we’ve singled out major target user groups and studied their use patterns.
Based on that, we have calculated the optimal design scheme for each stage of the application’s user journey. This way, it takes little to no time for the user to understand how to use a hotel mobile check-in app.
This feature contributes to the smooth and satisfying registration process.
Getting the app to work without any troubles a considerable undertaking regardless of the scope of the project.
We have applied a thorough A/B testing for each element of a check-in app to expose as main weak points as possible and make the smoothest possible user experience.
We have tested:
- The design layout;
- The scalability of application;
- Document Classification algorithm;
As a result, we had managed to construct seamless and effortless user experience for the app and solve all the problems of the system before it went live.
As you can see - letting users participate in the front desk check-in process more actively is a viable solution to the problem of slow check-in and subsequent bottlenecks.
The mobile app streamlines the process to a point at which the entire procedure is condensed to a couple of clicks and a swift double check.
For our company, PassportScan project was an excellent showcase of the expertise and experience of the team.
The app that was initially estimated as a three-month deal was accomplished in four weeks period.
All because of thorough business estimation and extensive analysis of the workflow patterns.
Now it stands as an example of how to do an effective solution to a serious problem.
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