As the pandemic goes on and we are all pushed towards digital adoption in all areas of our lives many hoteliers are now considering chatbot technology. However, a chatbot should not be the endpoint of your digital transformation, really it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Is it even the right time for digital transformation?
In times of crises, we tend to look to technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Previous crises have boosted digital transformation and the current corona pandemic is no different. Digital transformation means replacing existing practices with more advanced digital technology to become more efficient. It can involve many technologies, but currently, Artificial Intelligence and big data are driving much of the transformation.
It has been shown that companies that adopt quickly and decisively in times of crises to new paradigms, later reap the rewards. It's not the moment to play it safe, on the contrary: now is the time to reassess your digital tech stack. Once we reach the post-pandemic era, newly implemented technologies will become the new norm. Taking an early digital leap will set your property ahead of your competitors when things take off again.
What technologies should I consider?
Let chatbots do the chatting
Artificial intelligence has been named as the most promising technology of the past few years. It's clear that we will see a rapid increase in the use of AI in all sorts of platforms, messaging being no exception. AI-driven chatbots are a great tool to streamline guest communications, whether before, during or after their stay.
During the pandemic, we have acquired new digital habits, most of which include our mobile phones, like scanning QR codes for restaurant menus, video calling, not to mention a huge global uptake in messaging use. The post-pandemic guest will expect to be able to request services or ask questions through their usual messaging channels instead of having to queue at reception.
Automate and streamline workflows
A chatbot are a great way to start the digitalization of your guest communication. However, it is important that the processes that follow or precede the conversation are equally digitalized and streamlined. When a guest requests come in through your messaging platform, the right automated processes should be in place, so the requests immediately land into the right hands and it's clearly understood what the next steps are.
Don't wait, automate
Consider automating your reactive (incoming) but also your proactive (outgoing) communication. Send out the key information before arrival, so your guest can come prepared with the right expectations, and you can be well prepared for your guest. By proactively contacting your guests at key stages of their guest journey, you can detect any needs before they become issues and facilitate essential information.
Collect, analyze & learn from guest data
In this changing landscape it can be hard to pinpoint guest needs, which is where guest analytics can help you. To understand your new type of guests, analyze guest data by gathering information through messaging interactions and guest requests. Collect all your interactions and stays into one profile to better understand who your guests are and create smart guest lists for a more effective and segmented communication.
Learn about your guests' needs and preferences by analyzing your incoming guest requests: what services or information do they request most, through what messaging channels, etc. Guest request data can also help you improve and streamline your operations by looking at what issues are reported most frequently, what are the root causes, are all issues resolved, how fast are they resolved, etc. Keeping track of guest data will allow you to adapt and better your strategies as the situation continues to evolve.
When you decide to introduce a chatbot into your organisation, keep in mind that for a successful digital communication strategy you need much more. They are a great starting point, but the rest of your operations should also be optimised and streamlined with the right technologies so you are well-prepared for what comes after the pandemic.