AI is changing how hotels operate and, consequently, transforming the customer experience into one that’s customized, elevated, and, frankly, top-notch.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming industries across the board, and the hospitality industry is no exception. From streamlining operations and reducing costs to improving customer experiences, AI is solving workforce and technology challenges for the hospitality industry while meeting ever evolving (and high!) customer expectations.

Part one of Shift’s three-part blog series examines how the hospitality industry uses AI to enhance the customer experience. By seamlessly integrating it with the human touch, an even more personalized and highly savvy hotel guest experience awaits.

The Basics of AI

What is AI, exactly? Simply put, it’s the development of computer systems that perform tasks that usually require human intelligence. Things like visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages can easily be achieved by AI. There are several subcategories of AI, too, including but not limited to:

  • Machine learning (ML) enables the computer to learn from data without being programmed.
  • Deep learning (DL) allows the computer to recognize patterns in data, much like the human brain.
  • Natural language processing (NLP) allows a computer to understand, interpret, and generate language.
  • Large language modeling (LLM) uses deep learning algorithms to interpret, analyze, and generate human language.

AI has existed for a while in some shape or form but became more mainstream when Apple acquired Siri, the mobile personal assistant app. And, as AI solutions become more advanced and innovative, the demand for AI across all industries continues to snowball—especially in hospitality. So how does this translate to hotels, and particularly, how can AI be used to enhance the guest experience?

From Personalization to Problem-Solving

At its core, the hospitality industry is about creating extraordinary moments that leave customers with an unforgettable experience. AI is helping hotels achieve this goal—beginning with booking.

AI-powered virtual assistants can respond instantly to guest inquiries, such as room availability, booking information, or frequently asked questions. For example, XV Beacon implemented ChatGPT functionality on its hotel site. The platform immediately engages in text-based conversations with guests to provide support and answers to their questions, which encourages more direct bookings, rather than jumping to third-party online travel agencies (OTAs) for better information. This feature also can handle dozens of languages which makes for a more personalized experience.

In guest rooms, voice-enabled technology assistants, like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, can allow guests to control room features, request services, and get information hands-free. An application called SoundHound allows guests to order food and edit their cart with just their voice and get real-time suggestions triggered by what they say. No more sitting on hold with the front desk to order room service or flipping through the in-room dining binder to review menu options. Instead, hotel guests enjoy a quicker, more efficient experience all around.

Perhaps most notably, AI can provide better personalization across the customer journey. It can analyze guest preferences, past behavior, and feedback to create customized services, amenities, and activity recommendations. This can include tailored room preferences, personalized dining suggestions, and activity itineraries specific to the customer.

Where There are Pros, There Are Cons

Despite the fantastic benefits of AI in enhancing the guest experience, there are some potential drawbacks. Industry experts note the future of AI-powered search engines remains uncertain, with biases, decision-making algorithms, and data availability shaping the landscape. Addressing biases, promoting fairness, and ensuring accurate and relevant information will be pivotal in shaping AI-powered search experiences.

One key area that AI can’t solve is human interaction, which is often crucial for many in creating outstanding guest experiences. While AI can automate many tasks, it may not always replicate the warmth that human connection can provide. Not everyone is comfortable with or perhaps even aware of AI. Some guests may prefer interacting with hotel staff over AI for special requests, recommendations, or more complex issues. Adoption of AI by guests is for each person to decide based on what meets their “tech comfort level.”

How Shift Digital Can Help

AI may be the latest technology trend sweeping the hospitality industry, but it’s here to stay. As it becomes more advanced and more integral to staying ahead, it adds more complexity. If you’re wondering how your hotel could leverage AI and for what, Shift Digital is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about what Shift can do for you.

Stay tuned for part two of Shift’s three-part blog series, which explores how hoteliers leverage AI to streamline operations.