These days, more hotels are allowing guests to check-in or out at their leisure. (Photo: Simone Becchetti/Stocksy)
With red-eye flights, delays, and cancellations, checking into your hotel can sometimes be a pesky and costly proposition. And when it’s time to leave, getting the boot in the morning isn’t exactly the best way to say au revoir to your vacation. By tradition (and business model), hotels have strict check-in and check-out times to make sure the turnover runs smoothly for incoming guests. While this makes sense, a new trend is emerging, and some properties are adopting a 24-hour check-in/check-out policy.
The Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills lobby (Photo: The Peninsula Hotels)
The Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills has been providing this amenity since 2012, but other properties, and even entire hotel chains, are jumping on the flexible check-in/check-out bandwagon.
“Early check-in and late check-out used to be something reserved for VIP hotel guests, but more and more luxury hotels are introducing flexible check-out as a general amenity to make guests feel special and give them more for their money,” Courtney Scott, Travelocity senior travel editor tells Yahoo Travel. “It’s an amenity that certainly requires more logistical planning on the part of the hotel.”
Guests may no longer have to check-out by 11 a.m. (Photo: Trinette Reed/Blend Images/Corbis)
Even though these hotels have to take on more planning and coordination, adapting to travelers’ patterns and needs is a great way to stand out in the hotel market. “Like many travelers, I arrive at my hotel at all hours of the morning, afternoon, and night, depending on my flight, so I often ask for a custom check-in time,” Scott adds. “Some hotels still require an 11 a.m. check-out, sometimes noon. The concept of 100 percent flexible check-in/check-out is a great example of a hotel listening to its guests and customizing the experience based on the needs of the guests.”
Sean Murphy is editor-in-chief of Jetsetter.com and tells Yahoo Travel that this is a way for hotels to grab attention. “Flexible/24-hour check-in/check-out policies are a result of guests asking hotels for more options and hotels realizing they have to be a bit more inventive and guest-centric in their operations if they want to retain business and stay relevant.”
Capella Hotels and Resorts, for example, has instituted this policy across all of its properties. “We allow the guests to be in control of their stay, and when they arrive at the hotel and check out revolves around their departure time,” says Kit Papas, the brand’s chief operating officer.
And after recognizing the popularity of its Stay & Play 24 package, which allowed guests checking in on Saturday to leave anytime on Sunday, the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, N.C., adapted to its guests’ interests and began offering the option every night of the week.
Capella Hotel in Ixtapa, Mexico (Photo: Capella Hotels and Resorts)
“The purpose of this expansion is to let our guests really experience what Charlotte has to offer, regardless of the day,” said general manager David Rothwell. “We’ve successfully tested this package as a Saturday-only offering, and we now look forward to letting future guests turn their one-night stay into a Charlotte minivacation — any day of the week.”
It’s this sense of exploration that has been an integral part in the development of the trend. “Modern travelers love to explore the world beyond their resort,” says Scott. “They love to connect with local people and have authentic experiences. Flexible check-out makes it even easier for travelers to maximize their adventures beyond the hotel property without having to worry about what time they need to vacate the room.”
According to Murphy, technology has played a role in this industry change. “Technology has enabled hotels to keep better track of guests’ comings and goings,” he says. “As mobile check-in and check-out ramps up even more, where guests can choose their room, you may see more hotels being able to provide more flexibility in the process.”
Other properties, such as the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Four Points LAX, Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel in Stockholm, and Westin Hotels worldwide have adopted a version of these flexible policies.