Data-driven artificial intelligence (AI) has been a major stepping stone for the hospitality sector in the UAE, especially when it comes to collecting, analysing, and forecasting consumer preferences and decisions, experts have observed.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Tim Cordon, area senior vice president at Radisson Hotel Group, Middle East & Africa, explained that AI is increasingly dominating the way travel and hospitality sectors are operating their business models to progress in an increasingly competitive market.
“Through data-driven AI software, businesses can use a customer’s history and preferences to predict purchase decisions through advanced algorithms,” he said. “As such, hotels are becoming more reliant on their data insights to drive revenues to enhance guests’ overall experiences. From the initial phase of browsing a website to selecting rooms and type of service, everything is logged in, to sell the right services and optimise the overall hotel experience. In recent times, using smartphones to control everything from air conditioning, car parking, security alarms, and even automated cleaning and food-ordering services is common. The same concept is increasingly being utilised and implemented across the hotel industry.”
Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice president, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, noted that AI has evolved to play an increasingly important role in the hotel industry mainly because of its ability to carry out traditionally human functions at any time of the day.
“By employing big data and artificial intelligence, we succeeded in driving digital and intelligent transformation to the benefit of everyone,” he said. “Application of AI tools have made the process easier, efficient, user-friendly, effective, faster, inexpensive, and more streamlined. Although the use of AI within our industry is still in its infancy, it is already being applied in many ways. AI is extremely effective when it comes to direct messaging and online chat services, and at Swiss-Belhotel International we are using it to respond to simple questions or requests.”
AI chatbots, he revealed, are being utilised on social media platforms, allowing customers to get an almost instant response, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “We are also seeing the development of robots with AI, and the potential for this technology to grow is enormous for basic customer-facing situations.”
Voivenel’s comments about the future of the industry were mirrored by Cordon, who said that he anticipates seeing hoteliers gradually commissioning artificial robots to interact with guests on the hotel or ground level. “As artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated and integrated with hardware, more hotels will look to transition their business models into being more technology-driven. Countries such as Beijing and Dubai are leading the way in the use of smart technology and business models that focus on data-driven artificial intelligence all the way to mobile-controlled hotel room amenities.”
Amit Sharda, VP – EMEA, at Prologic First, a smart technology solutions provider for the hospitality industry, noted that AI should be used to empower guests with a more intuitive guest experience. He explained that AI should be used to build recommendation engines for regular destination travel experiences for guests across all sales channel, such as the hotel’s own websites as well as other travel websites.
“Some of the ways in which AI is used in hotel operations to improve customer experience includes AI backed chat bots with natural language capability at the brand website and also to manage delivery of services during the guest’s stay; learning about business dependencies and using the knowledge to set rates and optimise revenues; and personalisation of room settings and guest services based on knowledge of guest preferences,” he said.
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