Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to the performance of seemingly intelligent behaviours by computers or machines. Artificial intelligence, as a concept, has existed since the 1950s, but it is only in recent times that technology has advanced to the point where it can be considered reliable enough to deploy for important business tasks.
Essentially, AI refers to computers or machines carrying out tasks that were traditionally thought to require a cognitive function to carry out. It is associated with concepts like automation and big data.
Today, the collection of customer data, combined with the improvements to computer technology, mean that artificial intelligence can be utilised for a huge range of functions, from basic customer service, to personalisation tasks, more advanced problem-solving, and even for sales processes and direct messaging.
Chatbots are perhaps the best-known example of AI within the hospitality and these can improve the customer experience by providing swift responses to questions, even when no human staff is available. In particular, the technology has been shown to be extremely effective when it comes to direct messaging and online chat services, responding to simple questions or requests.
These small pieces of software with pre-programmed interactions allow you to communicate with them naturally and simulate the behavior of a human being within a conversational environment. It can be a standalone service or integrate within other messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger.
AI chatbots have been utilised on social media platforms, allowing customers to ask questions and get almost instantaneous responses, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is invaluable to hotels because it provides the type of response times that are almost impossible to maintain with human-to-human interaction.
Bebot is a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence that acts as a hotel concierge. According to its creators, Bespoke Inc., “it is designed to empower guests through instant, real-time assistance, such as exclusive recommendations for both popular and little-known sights in the area, answering questions only hotel staff would know about, or even making restaurant bookings.” Several hotels in Japan have already adopted this hotel chatbot concierge, and the company is in talks with other hotel owners. By implementing this solution, hoteliers can deliver a better guest experience, while saving on staff costs.
Booking.com, launched a chat tool that allows travelers to interact with hotels whenever a reservation is made through the Booking.com own website.
GuestU announced the rollout of GuestUBot, a platform for the hotel industry to increase direct bookings and enhance guests’ experiences through Facebook Messenger.
Skyscanner launched a chatbot for Messenger to allow travelers to book flights through the app, or book other services by chatting to a human being too.
Kayak uses an interactive chatbot for Facebook Messenger that allows travelers to search and book travel within the app. This tool lets users find flights and hotels using conversational language rather than inputting dates and going through hundreds of results.
Great hospitality experiences drive guest loyalty. Guest loyalty drives recommendations and revenue. While larger chains have more customer and performance data to tap into, smaller operators have historically had a tougher time maximizing the reputation, revenue and the customer experience.
Artificial intelligence is changing all that. With its ability to streamline processes, provide valuable insights and optimize experiences, it’s driving the new wave of responsive, guest-centric hospitality.