Design a digital solution for guest check-in

Keep in mind:
  1. Delight guests with a great experience
  2. Emerge as a leader in the hospitality space
  3. Utilize technology to bring the industry into the digital world


Design a digital solution for guest check-in

Keep in mind:
  1. Delight guests with a great experience
  2. Emerge as a leader in the hospitality space
  3. Utilize technology to bring the industry into the digital world


I started by asking some basic questions:

Who am I designing for?
Who is traveling in 2021? 🤔

What problem does this solve?
Potential pain points:

  1. Germs (Covid!)
  2. Long lines
  3. Wasting time
  4. Losing keys
  5. Handling luggage, documents, etc.
  6. Interacting with people
  7. Limited front desk hours
  8. Room not ready

Why does this matter?
What will my research tell me about the impact of an unhappy check-in process on a hotel guest’s overall satisfaction?



Two cartoon people standing next to a large question mark

Research goals

Two cartoon people standing next to check marks, defining their goals
  • Learn as much as possible about my potential user
    • Who would actually want or use a product like this? What are their pain points, needs, wants, and goals? To what extent do demographics, and purpose of travel play a role?
  • Understand current solutions and the competitive landscape
    • What products and methods (digital and physical) exist today for checking into hotels? Who are the direct or indirect competitors? What works well, and what could be improved in the current landscape?
  • What type of digital solution is desired, and makes the most sense?
    • Native app? Website? Digital kiosk?
  • Determine if and how we can leverage new technology and innovation…
    • Not just for the sake of implementing cutting-edge tech, but to actually improve the user experience (simplify tasks, delight, reduce friction and manual work, etc.) 

secondary research

Who is traveling now?

  • Digital nomads: Since Covid-19, over a third of travelers have considered booking stays in order to work from a different destination (aka take a workcation), and over half of travelers would extend their stays to add leisure time to a business trip (
  • Over the last 2 years, searches for the word “workcation” increased 5600%! (Exploding Topics)
How do travelers relate to technology?
  • A mobile phone is the number one travel accessory among travelers
  • Over 70% of US travelers agree that they “always” use their smartphones when traveling, up from 41% in 2015
  • Travelers most frequently use their mobile devices to:
  • Research activities or attractions
  • Locate shopping areas and restaurants
  • Look up directions
  • Statistics from: Think with Google

What does the current market research say about contactless check-in?

  • Keyless entry leads to an average increase of 7% in guest satisfaction scores
  • Guest satisfaction scores drop by 50% when there’s a 5-minute wait at check-in
  • 46% of travelers say a mobile key solution is an important on-property feature for them
  • 49% of travelers say “their hotel selection is influenced by high-tech features in the hotel room, i.e., mobile key.”
  • Statistics from: Hotel Tech Report




  • Check in up to 2 days before stay
  • Utilizes mobile key
  • Mobile key provides access to various hotel amenities
  • Sends notification when room is ready
  • Offers additional info about amenities, etc.
  • Mobile chat
  • The reservation must have been booked directly through an Official Marriott Channel
  • Requires a Marriott Bonvoy account
  • Some users report lack of consistency between app inputs and front desk experience (ex: room preference)
  • Provides push-notification when it’s time to check in
  • Guests still need to pick up a physical room key at the front desk
  • If the guest doesn’t have a credit card on file, she will need to pay at the front desk
  • Allows users to choose their room
  • Users can use a digital key
  • Guests need to be Hilton Honors members to use Contactless Arrival
  • Some users report tech issues, in some cases where the hotel had no record of their stay, even while they were currently checked in!

primary research: asking the right questions

I had time for a few phone interviews (more like conversations), but most of my data collection came from surveying users via Google Forms. 

I posted the survey in WhatsApp and Slack groups and shared with friends and former classmates asking for feedback. I tried to keep my questions open-ended, except when collecting basic demographic information.

Response breakdown:

  • 10 responses
  • 30% male, 70% female
  • Ages 22-31
  • 60% work fully remotely, 10% fully in-person, 30% hybrid
Screenshot of hotel experiences survey


Man standing next to door

1. Hotel guests value immediate entry into their rooms upon arrival

After traveling for hours, it’s nice to be greeted by a clean, prepared room and just crash

At the last hotel I stayed in, we arrived pretty late and there wasn't anyone at the desk when we got there and once someone noticed us it took ~10 minutes to check us in when we were ready to just get the keys and rest.

2. Travelers are largely unaware of current contactless check-in procedures

70% of users had never used contactless check-in. Of the 30% who had, all of them had used it only in Airbnbs.

Cartoon person with suitcase
Cartoon person getting support from someone in a phone

3. Hotel guests feel better when they have easy access to someone who can help in case an issue arises

What if the room is not what I requested? Who can I turn to? What if there's something wrong with the room? What do I do?

What if my room key doesn't work? Where do I go if I need another towel, or help from a person?

4. Travelers are attracted to hotels that feel more like “experiences”

I try to find stays that will be more memorable than just an empty room. It adds an extra element of value to my travel.

There’s so many options these days of places to stay that I try to find places that are unique and memorable. I feel like it kind of gives me extra bang for my buck.

Cartoon person with wishlist

5. Travelers balance many logistics at one time.

I haven’t yet mastered the art of packing lightly, so when I travel I usually feel like a hot mess, trying to balance all my luggage, itineraries, and snacks.

“My husband travels with a lot of clutter and during the check-in process I always feel so unorganized.”

How will we measure success?

Check-in duration

Does it save time compared to an in-person check-in?

Customer satisfaction 

How does the customer satisfaction compare to in-person experiences?

Staff queries

How many inquiries does the hotel staff receive related to helping guests check in digitally or use their digital keys?

Room upgrades

How often does a guest upgrade their room upon checking in, digitally vs. in-person?



When working on these wireframes, I kept in mind my 3 main pillars:

Pleasing experience

Within an app

Each element should be broken down step-by-step, and users should understand the process

HIgh-fidelity designs