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About hotel check ins

So you’ve caught the red-eye to your destination. If it was a good airline they probably woke you up a couple of times on your short flight to check if you were hungry or thirsty or just sleeping!!!

Then you endured half an hour of jostling at customs, immigration, baggage claim. And finally the bus/taxi/train ride to your hotel.

All you want is a shower and a cup of coffee or the other way round.

But not just yet.

Your first stop is the Hotel reception.

The first thing that strikes you is how well groomed the staff all are. And it contrasts significantly with your red eyed, bed ragged look.

Acceptable, you won’t see them again or if you do they won’t recognize you in your suit and slicked back hair..for some of us.

But then they try to engage in conversation. How was your flight? Where are you coming from? Have you been here before? Etc. And you grunt your way through the responses and escape to your room. Leaving them thinking you to be a stuttering, uneducated, illiterate idiot.

That is my first question to the hotels.

Unless the intent is to humiliate your guest, is there a way to make check in, especially the early morning ones, anonymous? Like airline check in counters? Swipe your passport, your credit card, take your key and go. We’ll chat some other time. You know where I’ll be anyway.

Those technologically challenged of course have the option of the human interaction.

I think the hotel staff would be happy to not have to face grumpy check ins as well.

2 days ago I arrived at The Westin Tokyo after an overnight from Singapore and went through the shaming ritual. And this being Japan the staff are over attentive and outstandingly well turned out.

And if any of them are reading this..I am not really a crumpled clothed, unshaved sort of guy!

The alert well traveled reader would have spotted the next challenge immediately.

The one of ‘Our official check in time is 2 pm’.

In my experience, unless you are a real shirker, you arrive at your destination early in the morning, or late at night to maximize your time in the new city.

Yet, hotels are stuck in the old ways and this particular ritual strikes me as the most customer unfriendly gesture in an other wise customer tuned and focused operating business.

So you end up paying for the night before, for a room that you didn’t use.

This week I was scheduled to reach the hotel at 10 am, and it did seem a criminal waste of money to pay for the whole previous day and night just to get a room when I showed up.

When I booked I was told ‘We will try, but no guarantees’.

Sure enough when I arrived I was told that as I was arriving well before check in time, I would have to pay extra for the room. And I was levied a 25% charge, as against the ‘usual pre booking and paying for the whole night’. Having no choice I agreed.

And I was offered a late check out. Something I did not need as I was leaving the hotel at 8 am on check out day.

They were unwilling to swap the late check out for the early check in too.

To my mind that is a double whammy.

Pay more for arriving early and then being given incremental time that cannot be used.

This post is not just a complaint about this incident, but more wondering why hotels have not changed their model with time.

I guess having discipline around check in and check out ensures guaranteed room availability at a certain time and beyond.

But this discipline inconveniences the customer who this business is targeted at anyway.

Here’s a suggestion.

Can we have three check in times available for guests?

For instance : One at 9 am. One at 12pm or 2 pm as current. And one at 6pm.

And similarly check outs at 9 am, 12pm or 2pm and 6 pm.

A guest checking in at 9 am and beyond has to check out by 9 am on his day of departure.

If she/he checks out between 9 and 12 then there will be a 25% surcharge to the room rate.

A check out between 12 and 6 gets a 50% surcharge. And a check out after 6 pm is deemed a whole extra day.

This has a few advantages to both parties

From the guest perspective

Gets a room when she is most likely to arrive.

Has access to the room for a 24 hour cycle, which maximizes  utility.

Can buy incremental blocks of time on payment. Great help at check out, when you have a late night flight.

From the hotel perspective

Formalises the early check in/late check out through a published method

Rooms get available in batches distributing the house keeping staff work load

Cuts queues at check out as people are not trying to beat the 12 pm check out

And of course a happy customer

Wonder when a hotel chain embarks on 24 hour check outs and banishes this particular issue that bothers travelers around the world.

Or is it only me?

Thoughts any one?

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Hotel check ins

Just coming back from a trip this subject is on my mind.

So typically I catch a red eye flight into a city so that I get the whole day at work.

And return is pretty much the same.

Usually the flights I am on, are full, or at least very busy. So I am not the only one who does this.

Few years ago I did this flight to Sydney. Walk in to hotel reception and they said that check in time was 2 pm. And that is the first time I was exposed to the concept of pre booking. Which is basically pay for the night, though you don’t use it.

And in Sydney 12, (or is it 10 am?), is the check out. So if you have a late night flight, one needs to check out in the morning, before going to work and figure out a place to change during the day, if one needs to.

How customer friendly is that?

As the hotel business is under pressure with the recession, does this provide an opportunity for a bold property to offe 24 hour check in?

How useful and differentiated would that be?

I would love it.

Would save me money and be convenient to me.

As banks moved to ATMs, extended hours and Sunday working to meet changing customer needs, is it time for Hotels to revisit some of their policies?

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