Is Mobile Check-In Worthless?
Arguably one of the more potentially useful benefits of a hotel’s app is the option to do a mobile check-in. In theory, you should be able to avoid the lines, go straight to your room, and be on with your day.
In reality, it’s a broken system that wastes more time than it gives and actually ends up limiting some of your benefits and guarantees that you would normally be afforded.
What should Mobile Check-in Do?
In a perfect world, mobile check in allows you, the loyal guest, to bypass the lines and the waiting at the hotel reception. You can let the hotel know when you’ll be arriving and let them know of any requests that you may have.
The Hilton App actually does this very well. You can check-in from your app, you can even choose your room (I actually like this quite a bit). Since I’m a fan of corner rooms, I can see if there are any rooms available and choose them. I can also see if there are other empty rooms on either side of me to get a little more sound protection.
Mobile Check-in should also allow you to get a mobile key. Since so many of the hotel rooms how are moving towards tap or touch-less entry, your phone can in most cases open the door for you. Good bye keys.
What DOES Mobile Check-in actually do?
In short, outside of the Hilton App, I’ve found very little use for this, especially with the Marriott brand. I actually find Marriott’s mobile check-in to be more worthless than ever and a complete waste of time. You actually LOSE benefits by doing a mobile check-in.
Skip the line?
Does the mobile check in allow you to skip the line? Nope. Every time that I’ve used mobile check in, I still have to wait in line at the front desk, present my ID, my credit card, and they have to give me the room key.
Please explain to me what the hell I just did all this mobile check in for if you’re going to ask for my card, my ID, and give me a plastic key? Isn’t the entire point for me to “check in now to access my elite benefits?”
Added Elite Benefits?
Let’s touch on this one, because this is one of my favorites and one of my biggest pain points.
Emails from Marriott tell you to “Check in now to access your Elite Benefits.” Do tell, what exactly are those elite benefits?
If you want an upgrade, it tells you to speak to someone at the front desk. If you want to change your room type, you have to speak to someone at the front desk. If you want to get free breakfast, you have to speak to someone at the front desk.
Just like I mentioned before, literally everything that you do is going to require you to speak to someone at the front desk.
Honestly, is the Al Maha going to benefit at ALL from me doing an online check-in? That’s a hard no.
One of my favorite benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy program are the elite guarantees. Meant to assure that the hotels are providing a consistent service across the portfolio, if they do not provide you with any part of your elite benefits, compensation applies.
A guarantee that we take advantage of many times throughout the year is the Elite Arrival Gift guarantee. In short, if you are not offered the choice of points or a welcome amenity, the hotel owes you anywhere between $25-$100, cash, on the spot.
In 2019, we were able to take advantage of this benefit 7 times totaling $650. While many of you reading this post (and I’m sure later on social media) will attack me for it, we’re simply holding the hotels to the standards of the program that they choose to participate in.
When you do a mobile check-in, the hotel is “offering” you points or breakfast. It’ll state “click here for your 1,000 points. If you would prefer a local amenity or breakfast, please see a member of the hotel staff.”
In short, you’re voiding your right to take this guarantee by doing the mobile check-in.
You don’t get to skip the line, you don’t get to choose your room (in most cases), you don’t get to use whichever card you want, you don’t get to use your phone as a key (in most cases), and you don’t get a choice of your elite benefits.
Also, you’re voiding your right to hold the hotel accountable and earn some potential cash in your pocket in the process, at least at Marriott Brands.