The Consummate Traveler – the Hotel Check-In “Checklist”

May 7, 2015 Updated: May 7, 2015

Just days ago, I arrived in Mumbai, India for a three week business trip. After the long fifteen hour flight, I was in a semi-sleepy state when I checked into the hotel. Once I reached my room, I decided to take a nap, when I received a startling phone call from the front desk. It turns out they had forgotten to give me my passport back after making a copy of it earlier. I was a bit surprised that I had not noticed this, as I usually go through a mental checklist each time I check in to make sure I do not forget anything critical.

The check-in stage is an important activity that can be essential to the quality of your overall experience. However, jet lag or a very busy hotel lobby can easily distract you through the whole process if you are not armed with a checklist ahead of time. Here are my suggestions for the key points to remember when checking-in:

Confirm your rate per night – It is always important to understand what your rate per night is, as
well as what it includes and excludes, before initialing or signing any hotel documents. In order to do this effectively, you must have copies of the reservation you made with a price per night quoted as well as all of the inclusions. For instance, you can be operating under the assumption that you have free WIFI covered, but on the day of your departure, you find out that you did not and now owe a large sum for these charges. It is best to confirm things upfront so you won’t get caught off guard and can budget your costs effectively during your stay.

Present your rewards card – If you have loyalty status with a hotel chain, it could get you an
upgraded room or other perks like access to the executive lounge or free WIFI. These are important things for the hotel to know ahead of time, otherwise, you may lose out. I forgot to update my company’s travel system with my membership number, which resulted in me getting a smaller room with facing a major street, while my colleagues are enjoying a beach front view. If you do not have a loyalty membership card, check-in time is a good opportunity to sign up and take care of this.

Get back critical documents – As I typically do (but did not this time around), use a travel wallet that
has a specific designated slot for your credit card and one for your passport. These are two important items that you need to hand over during the check-in process which you do not want to leave in the hands of strangers. If there are any empty spots left in your wallet, you will know that you have forgotten something and it can remind you to ask for your documents back.

Ask questions about the room – If you have specific requests for the type of room you want, such as
one farther away from the elevators or a recently renovated wing of the hotel, it is important to make these requests early in the check-in dialogue. It can be harder to move after a room has been assigned to you than to speak up and get what you want during check-in, especially if the hotel is fully booked.

Confirm your check-out date – Sometimes mistakes can happen and there is a chance that your
departure date in their system is wrong. This is an especially critical step if you are in town for a big event and hotels in the area are fully booked. You do not want to end up without a room.

As always, I wish you the happiest of travels!