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AI in Hospitality

How Artificial Intelligence can Transform Hospitality

Decision-making, data computation, operational dynamics, customer experience, strategic planning, financial and marketing intelligence — everything that affects the existence of business is now going to be largely influenced and affected by Artificial Intelligence (AI). In fact, AI is transforming the operations of many top industries, including Hospitality.

AI is empowering hotel business owners to develop newer customer experiences, adding a technology and market competitive edge. According to an Oracle report, 68% of hotel operators feel that the use of robots for check-in and checkout will be mainstream or in mass adoption by 2025. Hospitality will see a world of virtual assistants, concierge robots, travel experience enhancers, voice-assisted services, and data processors.

With AI already carving a niche in the hospitality sector, let’s explore how different AI technologies can add value and benefit your hotel business.

What Chatbots Can Do For Hospitality?

Right from booking enquiries to converting customers into patrons, AI-powered chatbots are involved in every possible customer interaction. They are transforming how the front-desk hotel staff is conducting booking-related queries. This is because chatbots can simulate intelligent conversations using natural language processing and natural language generation in native languages. There are some functions and features that chatbots bring to the table, which human agents cannot accomplish.

24/7 customer service

Chatbots are available all round the clock without any scope for bio breaks, processing fatigue, deviation in interactions, and lack of information. These disadvantages arise with human agents. With chatbots doing the mundane and repetitive conversations, human agents are enabled to handle more intuitive and intelligent interactions.

Better booking experiences

With machine learning and natural language processing, a lot of interactions are programmed to be made preemptive. With such processing in the background, chatbots make better interactions with the experience. Also, chatbots are integrated to the different information systems that hold personalized information about the user. This avoids going back and forth in the conversation. It helps in bringing all relevant information at once for the user.

Only the conversations that need human attention shall be escalated to the respective agent.

Fast delivery

Large amounts of data are stacked in different silos within the organization. Identifying the right storage path, accessing, retrieving and delivering the information is performed in seconds. Even when the user is available, the service is available. If the user places a request or reminder, the chatbot can render such assistance.

In a December 2016 survey by Retale, when asked whether or not they had ever used a chatbot, almost 60% of US millennials said they had. And of those who hadn’t tried a chatbot, 53% said they were interested in doing so indicating that customers within the hospitality sector would be happy and satisfied to interact with chatbots for the essential communication.

Potential of data to give tailored recommendations

Though a lot can be done with the available data, much of it slips into the bucket of dark data. With manual efforts, the teams can achieve customer satisfaction only to a predetermined degree. The increasing unknowns and undetectable archived data handicaps human agents from rendering tailored recommendation.

Extensive dependency of people on digital tech means there is an enormous mine of sumptuous customer data that hotel companies can imbibe to perceive specific interest and needs of prospective customers.

A prediction by Servion Global Solutions says that 95% of customer interactions will be powered by AI in 2025.

Personalization and on-premise recommendations

Personalization is not about just adding a name to the communication, and it is definitely not about showing meat options in the menu to a vegetarian customer. It is about using the information that the customer has already provided intentionally, or over requests, recommendations, or past behavior.

Machine learning can work on the gathered data to give insights and predictions on what customer is likely to want or opt for. With enough data, personas can be created and then those personas can be matched up with the hotel’s packages and services. Hotels can recognize the needs in future by leveraging predictive analytics and personality branding.

With the processing power and ease of managing interactions, applications of data through chatbots and integrated middleware system make the following possible for your hotel:

  • Manage entire guest journey. Enrich guest profile continuously with guest location, mobility, preferences, comments and behavioral insights. Leverage behavioral insights to enhance customer experience. For instance, SAMMY – a digital engagement platform understands your customer’s behavioural patterns from sources such as Wi-Fi, Native apps, social media, booking engines, POS systems and web-portals to give your employees actionable insights and drive targeted promotions.
  • Deliver services based on guest preference. Personalization in the context of what food they prefer, when do they prefer, what services do they opt-in for – all of this cannot be possible manually. Also with the perpetual increase in attrition, no single person could be made available to understand the guests better. This is where technology plays a crucial role. With a customer engagement platform, hotels can push and track promotions in real-time helping hotels to provide highly relevant, localized, and personalized information to its customers.
  • Use insights gained from the guest profile to augment the allocation & management of IT and HR assets. A fully integrated system like SAMMY with chatbots can provide insights instantly to the hotelier managing the customer queries and also to the customer who needs information.
  • Capture dynamic data in real-time from HVAC systems, keyless entry systems, WLAN, mobile App, PMS, CRS, etc. As much as people’s basic preferences own customizations, other technology and infrastructure used by the customers would also add information. An intelligent chatbot integrated to the information systems draws inputs from these devices and offers preferences that are very close to the customer’s behavior and personality.
  • Use location based insights to serve your customers better. We are not just referring to the in-house promotions that are targeted as upsell to customers; it is also about providing preferential information that a customer would need when they step out of the hotel in their new location. An integrated middleware system will be able to leverage location-based insights.

Learn top smart location-based tech strategies for Hoteliers here.

Hotel-specific intelligence for building a brand

Industry nuances and delivering them to the customer gives a competitive edge for hotels and restaurants. Building a brand from scratch and establishing a title relies on tying up the loose ends. Information specific to your hotel and the customer is what makes your systems and people intelligent.

The intelligence adds substantial value in returns and customer satisfaction—both being the building blocks of establishing a ‘brand’. Bots and integrated digital engagement platform in this space are being successful on a number of critical fronts: 1) Increased revenue 2) Enhanced guest experience 3) Engagement and brand loyalty and 4) Lower operational costs.

Potential of IoT in Marketing

Gartner predicts that by 2022, a typical American home will have 500 smart devices for a smart living. If this is the kind of information a single household would deal with, there is definitely more to how much a single hotel has to deal with. In fact committed leaders in the industry, in the process of building an immaculate brand would look to equip their rooms and other service areas, back-office operations within the hotel with more digital technologies.

IoT presents the opportunity to solve the most critical challenge that the marketers are tackling, at this moment, which is to add context to their marketing efforts. These devices can accompany hotel guests making the most out of AI in hotels. They extract information unique to each customer based on their behavior and preferences. This is an era, where not all information is used yet.

Final Thoughts

Today, the world’s interconnectedness can be leveraged to redefine current service standards. Hoteliers must look into how they can harness this interconnectedness using AI and digital engagement platforms. This massive opportunity will unlock unknown potential within the hotel industry.  These opportunities not only include revenue and cost-saving opportunities, and analyzing and monetizing information; but also, entry into new products and features, new business models, and social and government initiatives.

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