By Adam Mogelonsky, Larry Mogelonsky

ChatGPT is the shiny new toy for Q1 2023 with many people in awe of its ability to generate cohesive, multi-paragraph answers to all possible questions. But if you pull back the curtain on this purported wizard of AI, you’ll quickly see that its responses are somewhat ‘soulless’, using the most obvious and perhaps a bit Luddite word to describe it all.

The answers presented are cordial, neutral in political stance and generally speaking the grand average of the entirety of the internet. We mere humans, though, don’t gravitate to medians; we tend to reward passion, strong beliefs and flawed characters. This alone should tell you that the future is not one of AI supplanting humans but a fraught marriage of the two, and hotels are no exception to this great trend.

Two Buzzy Terms

Some definitions are now in order. A digital centaur is the current shorthand for this uncanny union – the AI is the horse body doing the predictive calculations and modeling while the human is the torso and head strictly in control of the ‘judgment’ or strategic direction of any workflows. Every manager will inevitably resemble a centaur as the years go on and mundane tasks are automated.

Next, with ChatGPT getting all the airwaves right now, lest we forget that there is another equally as lucrative technology that hotels can and should deploy. Conversational Artificial Intelligence is a technology that replaces the IVR (interactive voice recording) and supplements (not supplants!) your reservation teams with a near-perfect AI-driven voice for guests to converse with.

Task Not Job Automation

We’re bringing this to your attention right now because the voice channel has long been another revenue generator for many hotels, and yet it’s also a big cost center. Conversational AI thus represents the perfect example of digital centaurs in action in 2023 whereby the opening salvo of basic, repetitive guest qualification is offloaded to a robot before a live agent steps in to deliver the ‘heart’ of the brand.

In this sense, the human team members are liberated from the nuisance of transactional conversations which the AI can diligently handle after it’s been trained. With all those spare minutes, members of the res team can be redeployed to helping in-house guests, handling group sales calls or performing reservation callbacks. There are lots of possibilities, but the limiting factor in a labor-tight market is (and will likely always be) time.

Critical to remember here and something that must be expressly communicated to teams as you roll out any new AI tool is that ‘tasks’ are being automated and not ‘jobs’. It’s natural for people to resist change – especially out of fear that they will be ‘f—d’ – but with an eloquent explanation and a clear process for retraining everyone will be amenable to shrugging off the grunt work to an electronic mule.

This brief article hardly qualifies as a summary of AI, but we hope that our message is clear: AI is here to stay and, like all periods of technological transformation before it, the organizations that adapt sooner will be more likely to survive. Conversational AI is one surefire way to embrace this digital renaissance, for which we recently helped deploy Travel Outlook’s Annette™ voice bot at an individual full service resort to realize tremendous cost savings, call conversions and a boost to TRevPAR as the live team had more time to patiently explain the property’s rolodex of amenities. Ask us how!