I Don’t Get It: What’s The Point Of Hotel Online Check-In?

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I’m a sucker for practicality, and I spent the majority of my day online. That’s where all of my work lies, it’s where I blog, and it’s where I procrastinate (dang it, Love Island). That’s why I love how many travel formalities have made their way online, including seat selection and online check-in. That said, online check-in for airlines has been around for many years.

Tomorrow I’ll be staying at a Conrad, which belongs to Hilton. One thing about Hilton is that bookings are very customisable, and you can choose your own room. In theory.

a room with a bed and a tv

First I’ll walk y’all through the check-in process, then I’ll share a few qualms that I have with it as we go.

How the check-in process works

When pulling up your booking on the Hilton Honors app, you’ll see a large “check-in” sign on the dashboard, which first leads to a screen asking what time you’d be expected. The catch is that you have to specify a time that’s after check-in. I think that’s fair enough, since online check-in shouldn’t let you bend the rules – though I don’t see the difference this makes, whether I choose to arrive at 3 PM or 10 PM.

a screenshot of a phone

The next step is what I initially found the most fascinating, as you get to choose your own room. We were only left with one room to select from in this process, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

a screenshot of a room

It’s a shame that this room faced the inside of the hotel we were staying at (there’s not even a glimpse of the outside of the hotel, and the window seems to be especially small due to how the room is placed).

a map of a building

Thankfully the check-in process is painless, and that’s all you need to do, since we’d given them our credit card details at the time of booking.

Why I’m confused by this process

Overall digitising a check-in process is fine with me. However, there are a few things that online check-in for a flight does:

  • It saves time during the check-in lines, since you’ve already entered your personal information
  • If you’re not bringing a bag you won’t need to stop by for your boarding pass, since you’ll have a mobile one
  • You can assign yourself a seat during online check-in if your fare bucket doesn’t otherwise allow it
  • There’s also a separate queue for those who have completed online check-in – overall, it simplifies the process since you’re filling in information for them beforehand

In this case we were allowed to select our room. Granted, our hotel is fully booked for our few days, though I sure can’t guarantee that absolutely no one else is checking out from an entry level room tomorrow apart from the room that we’d be assigned (or if they’ve otherwise been similarly assigned to other people who’ve done the same process, since I doubt many people have heard of Hilton’s online check-in process, and I completed the process right after check-in was available).

At the Hilton Osaka we weren’t allowed to choose our room either, but that was more understandable since we’d booked an Executive Suite, which the hotel presumably doesn’t have many of.

a room with a couch and a tvHilton Osaka Executive Suite

At this point I don’t see the benefit of checking in online. I doubt you’ll get to select your room at all in most cases, unless the hotel is at less than 75% occupancy. You’re not saving any time, since you’re theoretically not entering in any extra information that the hotel needs to know (our check-in process consisted of a few simple clicks). There’s also no separate queue for those who have checked in online (though I haven’t been to a chain hotel in the past couple of years where I’ve had to wait longer than a short while).

What’s the point of hotel online check-in?

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