The development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting the hotel sector in various ways. Especially in the midst of a raging pandemic, many hotels have adopted the use of AI to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols while ensuring that their guests and staff remain safe. Robots and chatbots are immune to COVID-19 virus so they help minimize contact between hotel staff and guests.
Hoteliers use AI to check their guests in, conduct room deliveries, answer questions, and a lot more. This in turn gives hotel guests a new experience while enhancing their safety. Many customers that go back to a particular facility do so based on their previous experiences, which drives loyalty.
For hoteliers, a loyal guest is a valuable source of references, eventually leading to more revenue. AI has transformed—in a good way, how hotels operate across the world. The technology can harmonize processes and offer guest-centric service experience, which makes it a suitable model to adopt today and post-COVID.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technological concept whereby machines and computers perform activities often done by humans. The AI concept has evolved to a point where businesses can use it to support and improve their services. The technology is effectively applicable in customer service, personalization of tasks, and advanced problem solving, among others.
In the hospitality industry, artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important, as hoteliers across the world tap on its potential. While AI doesn’t completely erase human service, the technology is gradually making its way into the hotel sector. With this concept on board, human staff will focus on maintaining service levels and paying attention to every single guest that walks in.
Here are five major ways in which AI is affecting the hotel sector:
Increased Efficiency And Cost Saving
The hotel sector is a busy space with performance pressure on staff at all times. Sometimes, it’s not always humanly possible to attend to guests and meet their demands with undivided attention. Attending to guests at the front desk, answering calls and online guest queries, giving instructions to staff, and verifying all check-in documents could take a toll on one’s performance, no matter how trained or experienced. To keep up with the efficiency that a hotel space demands, hoteliers are tapping on the potential of AI concepts like robots.
AI-based cleaning machines can scale down vacuum circles while robot mops can keep guest rooms clean. All these activities reduce workload on housekeeping staff.
Chatbots, which are another concept of artificial intelligence, can assist employees when they have multiple guests to deal with. For instance, a chatbot can effectively handle online queries from potential guests while a human staff deals with guests at the front desk.
Consequently, both tasks will run simultaneously without the hassle of putting more pressure on staff. Similarly, self check-in kiosks allow guests to check-in hassle-free. In the end, the use of AI in hotels leads to higher efficiency coupled with cost saving.
Enhanced Revenue Management
The hospitality industry is mainly human-driven, based on the nature of its service. However, the advent of artificial intelligence has led hoteliers to move away from traditionally managed human-based services to a more automated and service-aligned platform. This shift only serves to improve efficiency in hotels.
A good example of this concept is the installation of the Property Management System, which can be used for bookings and other reasons. Besides, the concept can be upgraded to a cloud-based property management system, which offers various other benefits.
Artificial intelligence in the hotel sector has made it possible for owners to receive trend analysis, which enables them to calculate complex data and come up with the best rates for their rooms. Besides, AI makes it possible to execute timely updates across all channels. This allows the owners to reap the benefits of optimized revenue without any human effort.
Gives a New Meaning to Personalization
Artificial intelligence paves the way for service efficiency by redefining personalization. Without undermining the role of human emotions and expressions when it comes to personalization, hoteliers equally agree that the use of AI seeks to improve this area.
A small hotel can perfectly utilize a Facebook chatbot to drive extra sales. On the other hand, a hotel chain with hundreds of guest rooms at each hotel requires a Property Management System. In both cases, AI plays an important role to enhance personalization in the hospitality industry.
Helps in Data Analysis
As noted earlier in this article, some aspects of the hotel sector are not humanly possible to attain without the help of artificial intelligence. Customer service, retaining guests and knowing their preferences, dealing with loyalty programs, are some of the areas where AI comes in handy.
With AI in place, hoteliers can efficiently categorize their guest data based on room preferences, budget, and preferred amenities to lure them with attractive loyalty programs and incentives for their next visit. The technology can also help in reaching out to potential visitors.
Multilingual Booking Option
The hotel facility accommodates visitors from all lifestyles—language background included. There are instances when a staff member is unable to interact with a guest because the guest can’t communicate in English. Such scenarios are a hindrance to both the guest and the staff and could easily create a negative first impression for the guest.
Additionally, such situations invite bad reviews for hotels. To prevent the occurrence of similar incidents, hoteliers have employed the use of chatbots, which are programmed to create a simulated conversation with the guests in their native languages. This can happen through natural language processing (text) as well as voice generation.
This leads to clear and concise interaction between the human and the machine at all times. With AI conversational tools in place, hotels can respond to booking queries round the clock, as the desk remains active.
AI in The Hospitality Industry: Final thoughts
Around the globe, artificial intelligence is already transforming the hotel industry—for the better. It’s possible that hundreds of years down the line, hotels across the world will be AI personified.
All the same, the nature of hospitality is synonymous with human relationship. Without discrediting the amount of work and improvement that automation can do in the hospitality industry, it’s equally important to note that no technology can substitute for human interaction.
A cordial, welcoming smile, a warm and caring staff assisting a guest with health conditions, a reassuring voice in times of crisis, and a show of empathy to a frustrated guest and working towards finding a suitable solution—these are deep aspects of hospitality that no amount of automation can replace.
Alexander Mirza, The Founder & CEO of Mogul – Humanizing Travel. Its platform Staymogul.com provides booking, service and talent solutions for the hospitality industry.