Photo by Andrew Haimerl from Unsplash
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is estimated to increase hotel revenues by over 10% and reduce costs by 15%.Some of the practical examples of how hotels can manage the guest experience include increasing operational efficiencies, improving in-stay experiences through targeted communication and personalization brought about by AI technology.
Here are 3 practical scenarios of how Artificial Intelligence technology can manage the guest experience:
1. Using Chatbots and Digital Messaging for Virtual Concierge Communications
Imagine checking into a hotel and having the ability to communicate freely with the front desk anytime of the day without the hassle of picking up the phone nor waiting on the line for an operator.
With messenger tools such as chatbots and digital concierges, the front desk has the ability to communicate with a guest at any given time. More interesting than a normal chat platform, chatbots allow front desks to handle as many chat conversations as humanly possible with less human resources
Gartner predicts that 25% of customer service and support operations will rely on virtual assistant technologies by 2018.
— Predicts 2016: CRM Customer Service and Support, Gartner
Saving on manual labor costs while expanding on guest communication channels can be a tremendous benefit to hotels
Here’s a simple scenario on how AI technology can enable this process via chatbots:
Over a series of chat conversations with guests, hotel staff are quickly able to determine most commonly asked questions. Answering instantly with programmed responses is a swift next step to streamline operations.
Using a bot engine, answers can be configured based on set topics that a user is greeted with upon opening a chat. As more data is collected by the bot engine from a variety of chat conversations, the more accurate the answers can be on said topics in question.
In the case of Livechatinc for example, the following topics are driven by their chatbot: Knowledge Base, Sign Up for Trial, Tell Me More, and Features.
Pre-curated answers driven by a bot engine frees up a chat handlers time by involving a real human agent only when absolutely necessary.
In this instance, this would be when a specific question does not yet have a programmed answer. The idea of the experience is to provide and continue the human element, maintaining a seamless transition of interconnections from bot to real agent.
(image source: LivechatInc Press Office)
Aloft, one of Marriott international’s trendy and more recent hotel brands, uses ChatBotlr, a text messaging chatbot that allows guests to easily request services. An understanding of natural language is combined with machine learning to sustain ongoing connections between the front desk and its hotel guest users.
2. Providing Voice Assistants for a Better In-Stay Experience
Photo by Rahul Chakraborty from Unsplash
Voice-activated assistants may still be in its infancy, but with promising developments, hotels such as Wynn Las Vegas and the suites at Safeco Field have already equipped their rooms with the likes of Amazon Echo and Alexa respectively.
AI technology collected and digested by these voice assistants can suggest recommendations to guests during their stay. They can also understand what controls to apply to a room and when according to its occupancy status. An unoccupied room can be applied with full controls, saving operational costs in the process, such as on energy. On an large scale, operational management can be greatly improved for thousands of rooms across a whole hotel group.
With Amazon Alexa leading the way in the hospitality space, a number of properties will experience the advanced personalization of AI-powered voice assistants. Marriott International is one of their prime launch customers rolling out the technology at a number of its properties. An in-room, voice-activated experience could sound like the following:
Voice Agent: “Welcome to Hotel XYZ! You can ask me a question at anytime by saying “Hi Roomy.”
Guest: “Hi Roomy!”
Voice Agent: “Yes! How can I help you?”
Guest: “Can you tell me what time the bar opens?”
Voice Agent: “Absolutely, the hotel bar opens at 4pm, and happy hour on special drinks starts at 5pm.”
Guest: “What else can you tell me about the hotel or facilities?”
Voice Agent: “We have a swimming pool located on the 4th floor, and a relaxing lobby located on the 2nd floor...Your room temperature is currently set to 25 degrees Celsius. You can prompt me to adjust the temperature, lighting or curtains if you wish... There is a smartphone connected to the WiFi dock that you can use to communicate with the hotel staff. It also has useful information for visiting places and food suggestions outside of the hotel.”
Guest: “Thank you Roomy!”
Voice Agent: “ Your welcome. Is there anything else?”
Guest : “No that’s all!”
With connectivity to the hotel communications system and its networks, the voice agent is powered with the ability to answer a host of guest needs without any human assistance. The result provides a knowledge base for hotel guests, while offering awareness on locale and even greater exposure on the hotel itself that can yield incremental revenues.
3. Building a Recommendation Engine for In-destination Travel Experiences
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A recommendation engine holds the unique ability to suggest items at a level of personalized accuracy befitting the user. Through complex algorithms, data is filtered down in such a way that effectively increases the likelihood of the objective — that is conversion, such as amplifying the need to purchase. An example of this are recommended items shown on your shopping cart page.
With over 1 in 3 travelers around the world interested in using digital assistants, you can now easily research and book anything from hotels to flights and things to do. Digital tools can provide immediate local access and all while in-destination. With many hotels limited to less than 24/7 support, guests are still able to obtain reliable information quickly and affordably.
Currently, AI engines can provide useful information at scale and in real time through algorithms and deep learning that feed more and more accurate responses to users over time. Soon, other communication tools also driven by recommendation engines, such as a digital or robot concierges will become more prevalent.
Connie is a robot AI developed by IBM Watson that has already launched at Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Through speech recognition, Connie is able to provide tourist information to customers who speak with it. With each human interaction, the quality and accuracy of information improves.
“The future travel brand isn’t therefore just about moving people from A to B, unveiling new destinations, or organising trips. Instead it is about a thoroughly progressive, completely 360 degree view of the traveller and everything that goes into creating special, unique, memorable experiences.”
— Defining the Future of Travel through Intelligence, Amadeus Travel Intelligence
AI technology is gradually driving travel and hospitality experiences to power greater and more intuitive guest experiences. With the potential to become more receptive, widespread usage could reduce service costs for hotels and travel brands at an unprecedented level that benefits all players now and in the long-term.
All views expressed in this blog are written for the purpose of providing insights and recommendation on the use of Artificial intelligence in the hospitality and travel industries. We do not claim any responsibility for or ownership of technological cases involving AI.