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Police registration forms: administrative nightmare or a commercial opportunity?

— 5 minute read —

3 benefits of turning digital for your hotel

The hotel registration form or ‘individual police form’ is a document that attests the identity of a person who has stayed in tourist accommodation (hotel, residence, bed and breakfast, campsite, …) or in furnished accommodation rented to holidaymakers.

 

IS THIS COMPULSORY?

In several European countries, it is mandatory for these forms to be filled out by all guests upon their arrival. Though in some countries such as France, it is not mandatory for French citizens but only for foreign guests. However some hotels ask all their guests to be sure they do not miss any foreigner.

The accommodation provider is required to keep hold of these individual files for 6 months and to forward them to the police or the gendarmerie if requested.

The data to be included is:

  • Name and address of the establishment
  • Surname of the person
  • First names
  • Date and place of birth
  • Usual residence
  • Nationality
  • Mobile phone number
  • Email address
  • Arrival date at the establishment
  • Expected departure date
  • Date and Signature

Children under the age of 15 may be listed on the form of an accompanying adult. The form must be translated into English.

 

WHAT IS IT USED FOR?

Since 1990, in most European countries it has been mandatory under Article 45 of the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement, as a compensatory measure for the removal of police and security border control. It is used for the purpose of preventing disturbances to public order and for criminal investigations in the interest of individuals.

 

A TEDIOUS TASK… FOR GUESTS AS WELL

This step is an integral part of the guest journey and therefore affects their experience. It takes place at the worst time: on arrival at the hotel after a tiring journey and a wait at the reception desk before finally being able to access their room.

On top of that, there is no added value for the guest who feels as though they are repeating information they provided at the time of booking.

 

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS OBLIGATORY STEP EASIER?

Firstly, by presenting it in digital format. This allows certain fields to be pre-filled automatically with data already provided by the guest.

 

On the side of the hotel:

Ideally, the reception should have the list of arrivals for that day on their dashboard with the police registration forms already signed and the forms not yet signed (depending on the arrivals). The reception can then process the arrivals as they occur and know which guests have not yet arrived at the establishment.

This paperless management of police registration forms allows them to be stored easily and there is less paper to print and file. In the case of a form being requested by the authorities, the search and printing of the required form only takes a few clicks and is extremely simple. In some countries, it is not required to print them but to send them digitally in an export to the authorities.

 

 

On the side of the guest:

The customer has already provided some information at the time of booking. If they did not book directly, the hotel does not necessarily have access to this information. An email can be sent to the customer to fill out the information that the hotel needs and as a means of first communication. At the same time this is an opportunity for guests to book additional services (upsell).

This approach gives the guest the opportunity to fill out their contact details at a moment suitable to them and not at a fixed time; when they arrive at the hotel and there are already 4 people in front of them who are also waiting to access their room.

These details are then summarised on a tablet at reception. The guest just needs to take a quick look to check they are correct and then sign it electronically.

 

NOT JUST AN ADMINISTRATIVE FORMALITY

Beyond the administrative procedure, check-in is an opportunity for the hotel to gather additional information about their guests. Especially if the administrative data is pre-filled and the client only has to tick a few boxes.

However it is important to be careful not to ask for too much information, only the information necessary to interact with the guest in the most meaningful way possible.

Some examples:

What is the reason of your stay?

You can go further than ‘Business’ or ‘Leisure’ by asking the reason for the stay with a drop-down list of choices (trade show, wedding, holiday, …). This can also indicate if the guest will come back to the region and therefore there is the possibility to contact them later to suggest that next time they book with you directly.

How did you hear about our hotel?

This information is not always known by the hotel, it is a good opportunity to ask for it. Was it word of mouth? A visit to the website? A photo on social media? An article on a travel blog?

Would you like to join our loyalty programme?

For hotel chains or groups, the interested guest is already planning on coming back.

Do you agree that we contact you after your stay?

The GDPR requires explicit “Opt in” consent from your guests before marketing communications can be sent to them. Remember to explain the nature of your future mailings (promo codes, travel ideas, …) to encourage them to accept.

Of course, if the answers to these questions are already known, it is essential to avoid asking the customer again, this is the case for regular guests or customers that have given this information in advance.

 

Digitising the police registration form is a way to be more efficient in managing arrivals, not only by pre-filling in the information already available to you in your PMS, but also by sorting the files as they are completed. This allows you to collect useful and verified guest information, which is then automatically integrated into your guest database.

To summarise, digitising the management of police registration forms has 3 main benefits:
  • Saving time for hotel teams
  • Saving time for guests and therefore increased satisfaction
  • Data collection to enrich the guest database

 

 

 

Written by Elizabeth and Marylou