AI – artificial intelligence – is everywhere these days. It’s baked into your smartphone, your desktop and laptop, your virtual assistant, your smartwatch, and so much more. It’s also found in digital marketing, in business software, and everywhere else.
What does AI mean to the hotel industry, though? How has it affected the industry and how will it continue to do so into the future? We’ll explore those topics and more below.
What Is AI?
Once, science-fiction predicted that we would eventually live in a world filled with robots that make our lives simpler and easier. That day has come, but the robots are largely invisible. They’re bits of code that live in the technology we use every day.
The term “AI” doesn’t have to refer to an autonomous robot that handles the cleaning in your home. It can just as easily refer to the algorithm used to personalize the marketing emails you receive. Today, you’ll find AI at work in just about every aspect of all industries.
The Impact of Hospitality Intelligence on Operations
Hotel operations have been radically changed by the advent of artificial intelligence. You only need to look at the incredible number of tasks that front desk staff are expected to juggle to realize that, without artificial intelligence, the situation would be very different. At any given moment, many things occur simultaneously at the front desk:
- The phone is ringing.
- Guests wait to be checked in.
- Guests are submitting online queries.
- Guests are asking questions in person.
- Other staff members are asking questions.
In addition to juggling all of these tasks, employees are expected to be courteous, kind, to verify guest documents thoroughly, provide their undivided attention, and answer questions promptly. Since human beings are not actually able to multitask, how do you ensure that all of these things happen simultaneously and correctly? The answer is, with artificial intelligence.
An AI-powered phone system can intelligently route calls. Chatbots can answer basic questions online. AI-connected remote check-in systems can allow guests to check into their rooms remotely via a smartphone app and never need to stop at the front desk to begin with.
These are just a few ways that artificial intelligence is radically changing hotel operations. Without AI, it would be impossible for your team to deliver the level and quality of service that you expect and your guests deserve. It would also be impossible to live up to today’s guest expectations, such as less human interaction and more automation (both of which are important for health and safety protocols).
Revenue management is absolutely critical for hotels, but it’s one of the easiest processes to get wrong. AI can help ensure that you’re able to get it right while also improving efficiency and accuracy. You don’t need to look very far for evidence of this, either.
Chances are good that you use a property management system (PMS), as well as a point of sale (POS) system. Both of these are powered by artificial intelligence, which is how they can help you manage bookings, sell add-ons, add them to guests’ bills, and more. Hospitality intelligence is also responsible for many of the functions that you use every single day within your hotel, including:
- Room rate optimization
- Dynamic room pricing based on occupancy
- Updating your rates across multiple channels and OTAs in real-time
- Comparing your performance and rating to other hotels in the surrounding area
In short, AI is vital to being able to maximize your revenue while automating mundane tasks and reducing the amount of human effort required (and the number of errors caused by humans, as well).
AI Enables Personalization
Personalization is an essential consideration today. Consumers expect the businesses they interact with to personalize all communications. That applies to everything from voice communications to email marketing, social media interactions, and more.
However, AI is enabling personalization on a much deeper level – one that affects the very core of the guest experience. It also does this with increasing efficiency, saving you time, money, and hassle. How is AI enabling better personalization?
You can see it in many different ways. For instance, an AI chatbot added to your Facebook Messenger can answer guests’ questions and take basic information and add it to your database. That can then be used to personalize further interactions with the guest. You might make special offers that speak to their unique needs, such as child-friendly rooms, all-inclusive stays, or experiences that include a room at the hotel, but also tickets to events or shows in the surrounding area.
The personalization doesn’t stop there, though. AI allows you to personalize every aspect of a guest’s stay. You can offer unique amenities and services that will appeal to their wants and needs, make informed suggestions from the travel/concierge desk, and so much more. It’s all about creating a unique experience that’s tailored to each guest or family.
AI-Powered Data Drives Better Business Intelligence
We live in the age of Big Data. We’re surrounded by it. In fact, data is considered more valuable than any other business asset, including cash.
The problem is that there is so much information available today that it leads to overload. And not all data is created equal. To put the information you have in hand to use on your hotel’s behalf, you must sort, organize, cleanse, parse, and then transform it into something usable by human beings. In other words, you must find a way to eliminate inaccurate or duplicated data, organize it so that it all makes sense, and then put it into a format that human beings can digest, such as charts and graphs.
Doing that is laborious in a best-case scenario. In some cases, it’s impossible. Artificial intelligence can come to the rescue, though, by automating all these processes and ensuring that you’re able to surface key insights that speak directly to your ability to reach and engage with guests while staying abreast of current trends in the industry.
AI Is Here to Stay
From business intelligence in the hospitality industry to automating front desk and back-office tasks, AI is here to stay. And that’s a good thing. Artificial intelligence embedded in the software you use every day, such as your PMS and POS, enables better efficiency, a deeper connection with your guests, and, ultimately, more success for your hotel.