From Personalized Greetings to Welcome Amenities: 12 Hotel Arrival Experience Ideas to Elevate Your Guest Experience
In 2024, arrival is often your guests’ first IRL experience of your hotel—and it’s a key opportunity for small hotels to shine brighter than their larger competitors. When you don’t have hundreds of rooms full of guests to manage at one time, you can take the time to really get to know each guest individually and provide them with a unique hotel arrival experience a large hotel could never replicate.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to elevating your hotel arrival experience, and like all things hospitality, what matters most is understanding each guests’ unique needs and preferences. Some guests will want to head straight to their rooms with as little interaction with others as possible, while others will appreciate a full-service check-in complete with local recommendations and a guided tour of your hotel’s amenities.

The key to providing a memorable hotel arrival experience is to tailor each guest’s arrival to their individual needs. To help you devise an exciting hotel arrival experience, we’ve compiled a list of 12 of the best hotel arrival experience ideas, including:

  1. Reaching out to guests before they arrive
  2. Preparing for each day’s new arrivals
  3. Giving guests the opportunity to customize their stay before they arrive
  4. Offering early check-in instead of waiting for guests to ask
  5. Adopting online or self check-in
  6. Asking guests if they’d like a property tour
  7. Providing welcome refreshments
  8. Being prepared with local recommendations
  9. Offering meal vouchers for on-site dining
  10. Remembering guest preferences for repeat guests
  11. Adding special touches in their room
  12. Providing an airport shuttle service

Whether you opt for one of these tactics or several, these ideas can help you create a personalized arrival experience for each guest.

Let’s get started:

1. Reach out to guests before they arrive

If you aren’t contacting guests at any point between sending a booking confirmation and checking them in at the front desk, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve your hotel arrival experience. Reaching out before guests arrive is a critical point of contact and it can have a significant impact on their overall stay.

By sending a pre-arrival email a couple of days before check-in, you can:

  • Share key information, such as parking and check-in procedures, so your guests can enjoy a seamless arrival with no confusion
  • Offer online check-in so they can skip the reception desk altogether
  • Collect key guest information that can help improve and personalize their stay, such as their their expected arrival time, reason for travel, allergies, or any other special considerations
  • Give guests a chance to request early check-in if needed
  • Encourage guests to reserve arrival perks and other experiences to enjoy during their stay, such as champagne in their room, spa visits, meals, and more.

Carving out time to send pre-arrival emails can be tough when you’re busy managing your hotel, but with the right digital tools, you can fully automate this process so guests receive the key pre-arrival information they need.

2. Prepare for each day’s arrivals

Instead of simply greeting guests as they arrive, give your front desk staff a list of everyone you expect to check in each day. With this information at hand, they can know when to expect each guest, greet them by name, and make sure any special requests are attended to before their arrival.

INNROAD TIP: If you know when to expect a guest and they arrive much later, can you offer a small perk to help boost their day? Chances are they experienced travel delays, and offering a small bonus can help turn their day around and create a positive experience.

3. Give guests the opportunity to customize their stay before they arrive

Offer upsells, packages, and other add-ons during booking or online check-in so guests can customize their stay on their own terms without having to coordinate with staff. If guests aren’t ready to commit to add-ons before they arrive, showing them what options are available will still give them an idea of what you offer so they can make the final call after they arrive.

4. Offer early check-in instead of waiting for guests to ask

If you offer your guests early check-in instead of requiring them to reach out to ask, they can simply tell you whether they need it online and pay any associated charges before they arrive. That means less phone and admin time for your front desk staff so they can spend more time taking care of other guests.

5. Adopt online check-in

Post-pandemic, more than half of travelers want contactless check-in and check-out to remain a permanent option, and nearly ¾ of travelers agree that they’d be more likely to stay at a hotel that offers self-service options that minimize contact with staff and other guests. And hotels are listening—a survey by Skift and Oracle Hospitality found that adopting contactless services is the highest priority for nearly 40% of hotels in the next three years.

With online check-in tools, you can:

  • Schedule emails inviting your guests to check-in online pre arrival. When they check-in online, guests can request early check-in if needed, as well as reserve and pay for other perks and add-ons during the process.
  • Share essential arrival information such as check-in times, dining room hours, parking locations, or other things to do nearby.
  • Collect check-in and payment information online before they arrive (more on this coming up).

Adopting online check-in doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right all-in-one property management system, you can easily expedite the hotel arrival experience by enabling contactless online check-in and check-out, streamlining payment processing, and even integrating with other third-party services like remote key locks, guest messaging, and more.

6. Asking guests if they’d like a property tour

A property tour gives you a chance to show guests what makes your hotel unique, as well as how to find their rooms and other key communal spaces and outline the amenities and services you offer.

INNROAD TIP: Some guests will want to get straight to their rooms and won’t have it in them to tour and socialize. If a guest isn’t up for a tour when they arrive, let them know they can ask to be shown around at any time that’s convenient for them.

7. Provide welcome refreshments

A fresh cup of tea or coffee for morning arrivals, some fresh lemonade or even a glass of wine for later arrivals, and cookies or other sweet treats for kids can provide welcome refreshment after a long journey. Plus, it gives you a chance to showcase local coffee roasters, craft breweries or wineries, bakeries, and other tasty spots.

If arrival refreshments don’t make sense for your hotel, a welcome letter in each guest room can also add a human touch without increasing costs or taking too much time. To make writing welcome letters as easy as possible, try creating a template you can quickly customize with guest names and other personal details.

8. Be prepared with recommendations

There’s a good chance your guests will be stressed post-travel and not in the mood to research where to get their next meal or stock up on snacks or toiletries that wouldn’t fit into their carry on. Being ready with restaurant, grocery store, and other useful recommendations can take some of the stress off your guests so they can start their stay off right.

Recommendations can be shared by front desk staff upon arrival, or in welcome books in each room.

9. Offer meal vouchers for on-site dining

If you have a cafe or restaurant on-site, keeping guests close to home by offering vouchers for meals at your hotel can help you increase your revenue. A good deal may be all they need to decide to stay in instead of going to another local restaurant.

If you don’t offer food service, partnering with other local restaurants and eateries to create special deals for hotel guests can help you satisfy your guests’ needs while also giving you a chance to develop strong relationships with other small businesses in your area.

10. Remember your guest’s preferences

If you have repeat guests, take note of their individual preferences so you can personalize their next stay based on what you know they like. You could even offer special perks for particularly loyal customers, such as free breakfast during their stay, or a bottle of wine upon arrival. These touches can help you build and maintain customer loyalty and keep your repeat guests returning for years to come.

Without a system in place for creating guest profiles, recording and recalling individual preferences for every guest would be next to impossible. With innRoad’s reservation system (included as part of our all-in-one PMS), you can create detailed guest profiles that contain key information about each guest’s preferences. All of their details and preferences will be accessible on the fly so you can make sure you’re prepared for their arrival whenever they book a stay.

11. Personalized amenities in their room

Small touches like fresh flowers from your garden or a chocolate on their pillow can help an otherwise impersonal hotel room feel like home.

To create an even more memorable hotel arrival experience, personalize any special touches you add to their room based on details about their stay. If you asked why someone is visiting your hotel during booking—business travel, a wedding nearby, or a family vacation, for example—including personalized touches based on the purpose of their visit can help them feel more comfortable and encourage more repeat stays. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • For families, stock rooms with kid-friendly treats, movies, or books in their room. You could even include childcare vouchers so parents can have a break.
  • For a romantic weekend getaway, surprise guests with chocolate covered strawberries, dinner vouchers, or spa vouchers to help set the mood.
  • For business travelers, free coffee or vouchers for nearby cafes can help busy guests get their morning caffeine fix.
  • For guests who are staying because they have an early morning, complimentary breakfast trays can turn a stressful morning into a memorable experience.
  • For guests who need a quiet place to study or work, assign them rooms in quieter spaces away from noisy communal spaces or family suites.

12. Airport shuttle service

If you have a suitable vehicle and are within a reasonable driving distance of the nearest airport or train station, offering a shuttle service can take a huge load off your guest’s mind. Instead of navigating the taxi stand, public transit, or rideshare services, they can expect a greeting from a friendly face, along with a pain-free ride to their hotel.

INNROAD TIP: Shuttles don’t have to be complimentary. With innRoad’s online booking engine and check-in tools, you can include airport pickup and/or drop off as an add-on guests can purchase during booking or online check-in.

Checking Out

Understanding each guest’s unique needs and preferences can help you create an unparalleled hotel arrival experience. From airport shuttles and seamless online check-in to personalized welcome amenities in their room, small hotels are uniquely positioned to create memorable arrival experiences that keep guests returning for seasons to come. Get started with these hotels arrival experience ideas:

  1. Reaching out before they arrive
  2. Preparing for each day’s new arrivals
  3. Giving guests the opportunity to customize their stay before they arrive
  4. Offering early check-in instead of waiting for guests to ask
  5. Adopt online or self check-in
  6. Offering guests a tour of your property
  7. Providing welcome refreshments
  8. Being prepared with local recommendations
  9. Offering meal vouchers for on-site dining
  10. Remembering guest preferences for repeat guests
  11. Adding special touches in their room
  12. Providing an airport shuttle service

Get more advice for creating a painless booking and check-in experience:

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