The Hotel business faces the same automation and technology adoption challenges as the rest of the hospitality sector. It can learn lessons and show others how to make the best use of technology with some clever deployment of new ideas and cutting-edge IT.
Chatbots Can Make Customers Happier
When travelers look for a Hotel, the key aspects remain the same as ever, clean room, comfortable bed, decent view for tourists, somewhere good to eat and polite staff. But more chains and boutique establishments are trying to ease the workload on their front desk staff by rolling out a chatbot.
A chatbot might not be the first thing a Hotel thinks of as good for customer service, further stripping away that personal touch. However, for busy chains, a bot can help deal with many of the regular requests from guests, and help to drive business through upselling and special offers. That saves the concierge’s time for vital and urgent requests where a human touch is really needed.
Around the world, bots are proving a big hit for the likes of The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas with its popular Rose chatbot. In Asia, The Andaz in Singapore uses ConcierGo while Tokyo’s Otani has the friendly multilingual BeBot, all helping to improve customer stays and service. These are just a few examples of how chatbots and automated services can be the new heroes for Hotels, but from an IT standpoint, they need to be carefully trained and managed, matching the needs of the business and those of the guest.
Launched in 2017, Rose at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas has proven a big hit with the business and customers, driving up engagement, revenue, and customer satisfaction. “Guests that engage with Rose spend 30% more than guests who don’t, and are 33% happier when they leave.” according to data. That’s a big leap for any business, and in the Hotel trade, where margins are being squeezed could be vital.
Augmented and Virtual Reality Show the Way
The rise of AR and VR in many markets is something the Hotel industry can learn from. Brochures for events and destination locations are being replaced with VR walkthroughs, allowing potential clients on the other side of the world to walk through that impressive lobby, see the facilities and get a feel for space and style.
AR offers a more nuanced approach, using a phone screen or glasses to add imagery and data around a real-world view. Facebook and Snapchat use AR to liven up social media posts, while businesses and Hotels can show detailed information in situ about features of the Hotel for guests on-site, including routes to facilities, special offers at the various amenities and can highlight local attractions.
Both VR and AR can be delivered via an app, which also provides another way to hook customers into the chain’s offers and other locations. This can also encourage sharing on social media to help grow brand awareness. While VR content may be expensive to develop, AR can be deployed on any modern smartphone, helping the Hotel demonstrate its modern approach, and help customers with useful guides, details, and offers.
Premier Inn’s Hub Hotels are one of the first to use AR, with augmented maps to help visitors navigate London or Edinburgh, along with touchscreen climate and lighting controls and high-spec WiFi connections to attract the tech-savvy business traveler and tourists.
The Welcoming Robot Concierge
Ignoring the Japanese Hotel where robotic dinosaurs welcome guests, there are plenty of opportunities for real automatons to do some heavy lifting. Several US Hotel chains including Crowne Plaza are trialing delivery bots to save worker time with room service and packages.
Others are being used for more prosaic tasks such as cleaning corridors and carting luggage around, making for a more pleasant environment and saving staff from some of the harder jobs. Back in Japan, actual robot receptionists are appearing in some Hotels in the push for staffless Hotels for salarymen who can’t get home, and tourists on a budget.
Going further afield, Hotels could soon offer their own self-driving cars or taxis as pre-bookable alternatives to the usual options. These can help expand the brand of the Hotel and pick up passengers at airports, tube stations and other locations without the need to have a driver on standby.
Apps and Data Are Key Business Drivers
Behind the scenes of robot interaction, fun with AR and VR and other technological innovations, the largest driver for the Hotel business is access to data. The big chains all use their Hotel apps to hoover up data and analyze it to understand the habits and trends among guests to keep them coming back and make them offers they won’t refuse.
Using any mix of these new technologies can help grow that data footprint and provide useful information from the business. Using analysis of navigation tools in AR can help show where dark, unvisited, spots are in the Hotel. What could the business do to make them more attractive and gain revenue or improve the guest experience?
Chatbot data can highlight what customers often ask for that can’t be measured when they are talking to a human. If lots of people go to this restaurant or that theatre, can the Hotel cut a deal for discounts and other incentives? Or if there are regular complaints to the chatbot about poor service, the head office can find out about it, whereas the regular workers are less likely to report it.
As all aspects of the hospitality industry are driven by technology, experimenting and adopting chatbots or AR is just one way to encourage your customers to interact more with the Hotel and the business, providing valuable information and making better use of services.
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Izaak Crook is the Content Marketing Manager at AppInstitute, a SaaS App Builder platform that allows anyone to create their own iOS and Android app without writing a single line of code.
About the author
Are Morch is the founder and owner of Are Morch – Hotel Marketing Coach. Get more from Are on Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Instagram| Podcast