Industry Update
Opinion Article12 May 2020

Sharing The Knowledge: Artificial Intelligence In Hotels

By James Harrison, Hospitality Technology Consultant at HotelTCS

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Artificial Intelligence In Hotels And Chatbots

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Artificial Intelligence in Hotels is the final part of our knowledge sharing series. A few weeks ago I began our knowledge sharing series with the first four articles on Hotel TV.

This was followed by a post all about 5G in hotels. They all talk about the successful #LinkedInLive broadcast I did with FunnelTV.

While the focus was guest room technology in 2020 we focussed initially almost totally on Hotel TV. The topic became so interesting and the excellent feedback from our viewers meant it stayed pretty much at the top of our agenda.

What's amazing is, we've got much more to say in the future.

This post moves on slightly, as directed by audience questions. In this post we take a look into AI, Artificial Intelligence in hotels, and of course the most popular application, Chatbots.

Artificial Intelligence In Hotels

As I said before, the long agenda went out the window. We spent so much time focusing on Hotel TV, however the last segment focused on Artificial Intelligence in Hotels. Here's what we came up with.

Communication Is Key

The first point we established is that communication is not just a part of the booking process. It's easy to think that answering a guest's question during the booking process means they will be readily armed with all the information they need come the time that they stay.

Guest communication is not without both challenges and staff overhead. This is where chatbots come in both in-stay and pre-stay.

New guests will have a multitude of questions, and getting those questions answered quickly, and easily is a route to success.

Avoiding The Anonymous Experience

Human contact is an integral part of the hotel experience. Guests crave contact but it's a mistake to think that this is always face to face.

You need to be able to answer those multiple guest questions via the channel that suits them. More often than not this is through their own device.

With the move towards contactless check-in and mobile booking it would seem that this communication is not required. That is totally the inverse of what is happening. The expectation now is the answer at your fingertips, not a phone call and hold music away.

Chatbots Of The Past

Historically there have been chatbots which provide a poor experience. One important point we established, is that among certain generations, they don't want to feel like they are talking to a chatbot.

This is different to the Millennial and Genzennial generations, who actually feel happy as long as they get the answers they need. In fact, some companies have experienced users repeatedly chatting to their chatbot just for company.

As a member of the Millennial generation myself, I'm quite happy talking to a chatbot as long as I get the information I need.

Key Take Aways

  • Guest communication is important during booking, pre-stay and in-stay
  • Human contact is very important, but it needn't always be face to face
  • Modern guests want answers at their fingertips, any time, any place
  • Chatbots are fine, as long as they deliver clear answers
  • Integration with existing communication channels increases uptake
  • Integration with ticketing or staff management platforms increases satisfaction and reduces lost in translation mistakes.
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