Self Service From Check-In to Check-Out: The Guide to a Digital-First Hotel Stay

Explore modern hotel solutions with self-service technology. Enhance guest experiences and operational efficiency.

Modern travelers want modern solutions, and the ability to craft their own journeys. Traditional, linear experiences are no longer suitable to capture the interest of modern guests. In a recent survey by NYU’s School of Professional Studies, 92% of 525 hoteliers surveyed said their guests were more accepting of contactless technology, and that access to the technology had become an expectation. 

Not only has self-service become an expectation, it’s now a top preference for guests. According to data published by Oracle Hospitality, 73% of travelers are now more likely to choose hotels offering self-service technology.

A pie chart showing survey results

Implementing self-service in hotels may be a difficult transition, but the results of doing so are clear. MGM Resorts International implemented a full scale, mobile-led digital transformation based around self-service. The MGM app implemented the first on-demand, on-site mobile check-in. These features, along with a seamless integration of their loyalty program, saw their ADR grow by 3-4%.

This transition was beneficial not only to guests, who enjoyed a more streamlined and personalized stay, but also to the industry at large. Self-service technology opens up a myriad of opportunities for revenue growth, increased adoption of loyalty programs, and more.

A Self-Service Stay

The direct use cases for self-service extend across the entire guest experience. Here’s a breakdown of how it enhances each section of the guest’s stay:

  • Pre-Arrival: Before guests even arrive, the ability to check in through a mobile app sets the stage for a convenient experience. This platform also allows guests to explore and select rooms, view amenities, and access upgrades. Further personalization and integration is available for members of the hotel's loyalty program, allowing guests to upgrade their room with points.
  • Arrival and Stay: Digital keys accessible via the app eliminate the need for traditional check-in procedures. This allows guests to bypass lines and head straight to their rooms. The app's utility extends throughout the stay, facilitating room service orders and immediate requests for amenities with prompt delivery service.
A phone screen showing a digital hotel room key that is opening a door
  • Personalized Experiences: Apps can also serve as a gateway to personalized experiences. For example, guests can conveniently book services like a relaxing spa day, or reserve a table at the hotel's premium restaurant, all within a few taps. Data from previous stays can be used to personalize these suggestions, increasing the likelihood of interaction. This feature adds a layer of convenience, and encourages guests to explore experiences within the hotel’s own ecosystem.
  • Departure: For busy travelers, changes in their schedules are made easy. Apps allow for effortless adjustments to check-out times, trip extensions, and a simplified digital check-out process. This ensures that guests have the flexibility to check-out on their own schedule and are able to do so with ease.
  • Seamless Bill Settlement: Guests can review, itemize, and settle their bills directly through an app. This feature includes detailed explanations of charges, options for splitting payments, and direct communication channels for any inquiries. The transparent, hassle-free process ensures guests can manage their expenses conveniently.

Boosting Efficiency

The potential benefits provided to the guest are numerous. Room upgrades, early check-in, a digital room key, seamless room service, on-site service booking, and late check-out all greatly enhanced their experience.

Moreover, the digital approach provides valuable data insights. By analyzing interactions, preferences, and feedback through the app, hotels can tailor their services more precisely to guest needs, anticipate demands, and personalize the guest experience to a degree previously unattainable.

Additionally, the digital-first strategy opens up new revenue streams. For instance, through targeted offers and upgrades available via the app, guests are more likely to opt for additional services, knowing they can do so with ease and at their own pace. The convenience of digital booking for spa visits or restaurant reservations directly through the hotel's platform also keeps spending within the hotel's ecosystem. 

A hotel room with a phone screen overlaid showing options for self-service room service ordering.

Self-service has proven to be an efficient driver of increased revenue. According to Harvard Business Review, average order value can increase by up to 20% when customers utilize in-app ordering. This is because ordering through an app increases “dwell-time”, where customers spend more time browsing a menu in-app as opposed to ordering from an employee. This increase in dwell time carries over across check-in options, to room service, and more. 

For our work with MGM International Resorts, Fueled spent months interviewing hotel guests, casual visitors, top-tier loyalty program members, on-the-ground resort staff, and a range of corporate stakeholders. These interviews revealed that guests are more likely to feel comfortable upgrading their rooms, adding amenities, and spending more on services when they have the option to do so through a user-friendly app.

A quote from Fueled's user research

Furthermore, the efficiency of digital check-in and check-out processes frees up staff members at a crucial time for the industry. In the course of our interviews it became clear that a top issue facing most hoteliers was a staffing shortage. These findings are backed by a recent survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), where 67% of hotels surveyed said they are experiencing a staffing shortage.

The ability to shift staff away from check-in desks leads to a better utilization of the hotel's human resources. Instead of dedicating time to repetitive tasks, staff can instead focus on providing high-quality, personalized service in other areas of the property. The effects of providing guests with efficient self-service ripple across the entire guest experience. 

Audit your Experience

Navigating the future of hospitality requires embracing the tools that enhance guest satisfaction while optimizing operational efficiency. The digital-first model isn't merely a trend but a substantial shift in how hotels engage with their guests. This shift has proven its value by not only meeting the modern traveler's expectations but exceeding them. As we've seen through the lens of industry leaders like MGM Resorts International, the integration of self-service technology into the hotel experience doesn't just add value; it redefines it.

Interested in how Fueled can transform your hotel's digital experience?





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