19 May 20237 min readin Use cases

Automated Data Entry for Travel & Hospitality Companies

Jan Stepnov

Identity Verification Expert, Regula

Manual data entry in the travel and hospitality industries is a hassle. When staff members type in document details by hand, the guests checking in risk getting stuck in lines. Misprints are possible due to human error. If customers register in an app remotely and enter details manually, they have to put in extra effort, hence the conversion rates suffer. And, again, there is human errors. 

Today’s tech allows you to fill in guests' data in a matter of seconds, eliminating all the above issues. One single picture of a document is enough to fill in personal details, save time, avoid data inconsistencies, and, ultimately, ensure a seamless customer experience.

What does automated data entry have to do with identity documents?

In the travel & hospitality sector, automated data entry is especially relevant when it comes to identity documents. Travelers buy airline tickets, book hotels, complete check-ins—all of these require entering personal details stored in IDs. 

Data entry automation tools help businesses and customers facilitate and streamline this process. When a customer's document is scanned or photographed, personal information is extracted and turned into a digital format. The identity details are entered into your data management system: fields like Name and Surname, Date of Birth, and others are filled out.

The text information can be further manipulated as any other data of this type—you can copy it, paste it into a different database, and so on. However, automated data entry is more than just processing text and numbers. ID documents have some information encoded in images, barcodes, machine-readable zones, and other security features. Scanning them with purpose-built software or hardware allows you to extract all the data from the document.

Automated entry for travel & hospitality: 4 use cases

Here are four scenarios in which data entry automation software can improve a business workflow.

Digital onboarding

Many travel and hospitality companies ask their clients to provide lots of personal details while signing up. Quite often, customers need to enter a lot of information manually. 

Let’s consider the case of Airbnb. The company has a strict onboarding process where guests and hosts have to verify their identities. To do so, they need to open their account settings and upload a picture of their ID document.

ID verification in Airbnb

After a user uploads a photo of their ID, they need to choose the document type and citizenship manually, then type in their name, surname, date of birth, and other details. This complicates onboarding and increases the probability of mistakes. 

Clients can be relieved of the hassle of entering their data and uploading pictures by hand. If an app is enabled with an automated data entry SDK, one photo of the document made by the app is enough. The system scans the ID, extracts all the necessary information, and verifies the authenticity of the document on the go.

This automated entry workflow is a good fit for hotels and booking services: it reduces the number of errors, and also facilitates onboarding, which ensures more clients are happy with the service.

Remote check-in

When there’s an opportunity not to stand in lines, instead checking in remotely using a mobile app, travelers use it. And if the remote check-in is enhanced with automated data entry, it is a double win. The client doesn’t need to enter their details over again: with just one document photo and a few more taps, they can complete the registration for a flight or a hotel stay. 

Remote check-in has been implemented by AirAsia, an airline, in their super app where travelers book tickets, find lifestyle products, and access financial services. Initially, the goal of AirAsia was to provide contactless airport check-in to mitigate health risks during the pandemic. AirAsia abandoned the former check-in procedure, thus safeguarding passengers and streamlining the document data entry process. After the pandemic, this system continues to ensure a seamless traveling experience.

Self check-in

If check-in is done on-site, it can still be contactless—and extremely quick. Airports and hotels can leverage self check-in kiosks—devices with a large touch screen and a camera that scans the traveler’s document and instantly extracts the data. Customers don’t have to bother looking for booking details in their email, then entering and verifying them. An ID scan and a look into a camera, and the system recognizes the client. This is a travel experience that people enjoy. 

This workflow has been implemented in Millennium M Social Hotel in Singapore. The system, called E-Visitor Authentication (EVA), is a self check-in tool that reduces the traditional hotel registration time by 70%. Guests scan their documents in a kiosk using facial recognition technology. After the data is processed, the guest gets their room key.

Self check-in kiosk at a Singapore hotel

Image source: Design Milk

In-person check-in

Registration at an airport check-in desk or hotel reception is pleasant when it’s quick. Although remote and contactless check-in methods are convenient, it is very unlikely that in-person check-in will become obsolete in the near future. That’s why it is worth optimizing the staff’s workload by providing them with automated data entry tools. 

With automated data entry, staff members scan the document, and the customer’s data instantly enters the system. This saves time, which is especially relevant during busy hours. The streamlined data workflow helps prevent lines and protects against human error.

How does it work?

Automated data entry implies using either special software or hardware, sometimes both. The exact requirements depend on the case and the type of business. We will review the process based on how Regula does it—but you are free to choose any solution that fits your business.

Software solutions for data entry automation

Automated data entry in a mobile app

The automated data entry software can be integrated into your current data management system via API. A good tool is easily embedded with minimum development, and as a result, you’ll have a fully customized automated data entry workflow. As an example, Regula’s Document Reader SDK can be effortlessly built into your system. 

Software solutions are a good fit for digital onboarding and remote check-in. When you enable your app with a data entry automation tool, here’s what it does when the client takes a picture of their ID: 

  • Ensures that the quality of the image is high: checks its resolution, angle, and illumination. The system automatically improves the photo, for instance, aligns the sides and edges if needed. If something goes wrong (e.g., the client covers the document with their finger), the system asks them to retake the photo. 

  • Recognizes the document type, be it a passport, national identity card, driver’s license, visa, or other document. To do this, the system locates key attributes on the page and compares them with the document template database. The more IDs in this database, the easier it is to identify the document type. Successful document type recognition, in its turn, facilitates data extraction for automated entry tools.

  • Extracts data from the visual inspection zone: e.g., personal details, photo, and the date of issue. Some solutions can also decode information from the machine-readable zone and the chip. 

  • Verifies the authenticity of the document to make sure it’s a legit ID. 

Automated data entry software instantly collects personal information in an error-free way, saving time for your customers and staff.

Hardware solutions for data entry automation

When check-in is done on-site, automated data entry is often done using specific hardware, from document readers to multi-functional self-registration kiosks. 

The main difference between software and hardware for automated entry is that the latter has enhanced capabilities for checking the authenticity of the document. Scanners can examine the ID in different light sources to ensure it has not been forged. This is important for industries like aviation and banking, where a rigorous identity check is needed in addition to extracting data from the document. 

Depending on the type of device, the document is scanned either by the traveler (self-service) or by an employee. For customers completing self check-in at a hotel or airport, there are specialized self-service kiosks. For staff members serving clients, a document reader on their desks will help to get through formalities in seconds.

One of Regula’s compact Document Readers 70X7 enabling automated data entry

For the proper functioning of hardware, and to enable it with data entry automation features, specific software is needed. It is convenient when both are produced by the same company—this makes them natively compatible (that’s the case with Regula). Some vendors also develop software that is compatible with 3rd-party document readers—Document Reader SDK is one such example.  

All in all, document scanning hardware allows you to get a high-quality image of the document, which is then processed by software—it extracts the ID data and verifies it for authenticity.

What are the benefits of automating data entry?

  • Saving time. When your team doesn't have to enter data by hand, they can serve more clients—or use their time to focus on other things of strategic importance. Alternatively, you may need fewer employees to do the same amount of work.

  • Happier customers. No one likes standing in lines or filling in forms. By accelerating data entry, you eliminate lines at check-in and make the customers’ traveling experience fully enjoyable. When it comes to registering in the app or doing a self check-in, you can please your clients with instant data entry or fast account creation. 

  • Higher conversion rates. Happier customers means better conversion rates! The fewer clicks and taps your clients need to do during registration, the better the chances that they will complete it. 

  • Smaller error rates. No doubt you’re hiring the most careful employees. However, no one is safe from making typos. What’s more, manual data entry can lead to data inconsistencies, for example, when the information is structured in different formats and incompatible databases. An automated workflow is ultimately accurate and organizes data in a standardized way.

  • Document verification on the go. A perfect data entry automation solution can also validate and verify the document so your services aren’t used by fraudsters with fake documents.

Make fast check-in your competitive advantage

All the technical details described in this article serve one goal—to streamline and simplify data entry as much as possible. The automated entry workflow will free more time for your staff so they can focus on meaningful tasks, while the customers will be happy with the stress-free experience from their first visit. 

Ultimately, everyone wants to get things done faster with check-in or registration. Automated data entry gives you just that.

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