Artificial Intelligence in hotels is the reality you, a hotelier, should embrace. I know it may sound “sci-fiction” or some futuristic trend that won’t catch. But AI is already among us and can make your life easier at work and customers happier with their experience.
There was a time (not so long ago) when customer service was restricted to phone calls and emails. To stay in line waiting for an answer was a given. It was just the way things were. But not anymore! The scenario has changed and expectations too. Clients want efficiency and speed when contacting a company and a delay can ruin relationships before they even begin.
From the customer’s point of view:
- if they have to wait for more than 1 minute for an answer from a company, what are the odds that they will patiently wait for it? And if the company is a hotel, how long does it take for them to check another hotel or simply book through an online booking site?
From the hotelier point of view:
- the operation has changed. Now you have multiple channels to handle. And an insane urge from clients to be promptly answered. How can you possibly do it? Thanks for the Artificial Intelligence in hotels! This robotic help is the key to success in this crazy non-stop-multiple-channel-world.
Businesses from different sectors are taking advantage of the use of AI. It’s about time that the hotel industry also benefits from it. Many hoteliers resist adopting a robotic solution in the fear of missing the human touch. But that is just not smart. Here are 5 points to make you love Artificial Intelligence in hotels.
1. AI is a must, not a plus
Consumer behavior has changed, so strategies must change too. Phone calls are the last decade. Look what is happening in the US:
As you can see, as the years go by, the percentage of the use of voice channels is decreasing. That means that people prefer texting to talking. Some researchers say that Americans spend double the time texting than using voice calls.
This is a global trend. Just think about how many times you call x text someone. People want services to be fast, easy, and convenient. Customer service should be offered in the main channels and messaging channels are sure a favorite between customers. That is why online service is crucial.
And the service must be intelligent too so go beyond clicks and scripts on your website. With Artificial Intelligence, bots specifically designed for hotels can understand up to 80% of interactions. Say no for customer frustration and yes to guest satisfaction.
2. A hotel is a 24/7 business
Take a look at these reports brought by Asksuite, the global leader in pre-stay hotel chatbots. Its hotel chatbot has already exchanged 73 million messages with travelers and, therefore, has some insightful data about hotel customer service:
The first two reports are related to the time-period customer service is requested. According to the data, 54% of the requests are outside working hours, being the period between 6 pm – 12 am the more intense.
When it comes to the day of the week, Sunday is a day with a lot of customer service requests, despite common beliefs. There is no “slow day” in the hotel industry (or it shouldn’t have).
An intelligent chatbot, that understands Natural Language, can give perfect assistance to your potential guests any time of the day, any day of the week.
3. It’s all about the money
When it comes to reducing costs, self-service is the best channel, according to Forrester Research and Oracle:
Web self-service, or chatbots, are the better cost-benefit in the market. Especially if you think about multilingual staff, something that every hotel is looking for. Can you imagine the cost to always have a polyglot employee available for customers all the time?
As a result, multilingual chatbots are perfect for the hotel industry as they cost much less, speak many languages, and work without pause. To have a human agent dedicated exclusively to online customer service is not the reality for many hotels. AI chatbots can offer the experience online travelers are demanding.
4. It is not chit-chat, it’s a conversation
You are mistaken if you think that the requests are only about trivial issues. Still, according to Asksuite, 40% of chats are about room quotations. To not answer a request might lead to a loss of a possible new reservation and an acquisition of a new client.
With a hotel chatbot, not only customers are promptly answered, but the path to booking gets easier and smoother. With virtual assistants integrated with booking engines, the chances of sealing the deal increase significantly. Again: people want it to be simple and convenient to buy a product or service.
Check this report about e-commerce. People are buying more and more on the internet. In travel (including accommodation), there was a growth of 11% of e-commerce. Chatbots with Artificial Intelligence and integrated with booking engines are perfect to grab these online opportunities.
Internet is a “big world” and potential guests are spread over multiple communication channels. Your hotel needs to be where clients are. An omnichannel intelligent approach might be the perfect tool for this task.
5. Automate to personalize
To personalize a service demands time and data, two things that Artificial Intelligence can deliver. AI chatbots allow human agents to focus on complex and meaningful tasks instead of answering operational and repetitive questions. That is why it is a mistake to consider automatization and personalization as opposites. They are complementary. One helps the other.
Besides, companies whose majority of employees focus on complex tasks perform better than the ones whose most employees spend most of their time solving simple issues.
Again: it’s not a matter of choosing or replacement. Humans and AI should work together. When adopting a hotel chatbot, there is the possibility of human intervention at any time in any conversation the bot is having. This is what we call teamwork!
Artificial Intelligence in hotels are here to stay
Clients’ expectations are higher than ever. It surpassed free wi-fi, king-size bed, or any objective facility. They are now related to the service itself: how employees perform and how issues are handled. Hotels must meet these expectations.
With Artificial Intelligence there are many new opportunities to impress clients and improve customer experience. AI gives valuable data that guides the road for customer success. After all, the guest’s journey starts before they arrive in the hotel’s lobby. It starts on the internet.
The data provided and the aid from automatization give hoteliers the chance to impress customers and the time to personalize service, treating each of them as unique as they are. Staff can focus on what matters and even train to develop skills.
Artificial Intelligence and humans can coexist in the customer service environment. In fact, according to Business Insider, 45% of customers don’t care if they are served by a human or a robot, as long as they are served well and quickly.
Still not convinced about the benefits of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science to hospitality? Or do you think this is a tech only available to the biggest and the richest? Take a look at this interview of Hampus Ljunggren, head of Business Development and Partnerships at Travel Appeal to the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne:
Artificial Intelligence is not a privilege. It’s a valuable resource. If you want to find out more about how AI can help your operations in customer service, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website: www.asksuite.com and talk to one of their consultants.
We are in this together!
I need to let you all know that we are in on this together. If you need to vent, talk, cry, or just have some to talk with then I am here listening. Since I am working part-time at the local Kroger, I will to the best of my ability to work it out around my schedule.
But you can reach me here:
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We will get through this unprecedented event together! #hotelstrong #hospitalitystrong
Paula Carreirão is a Content Producer at Asksuite. Being an ex-hotelier herself and a writer at the company’s blog Ask Insights, she now helps to spread the word about the benefits of automation and artificial Intelligence in the hotel industry.
About Are Morch
Hi, I am Are Morch. Your Digital Marketing Coach and Customer Experience Expert specializes in creating effective digital customer experience offer for hotels while growing and scale customer acquisition and revenue.