by Mitul Makadia
In the 21st century, industries that remain adamant about integrating new technological revolutions are most likely to regress in their course of development. Businesses across the globe have realized how important it is to include contemporary digital technology to drive constant growth and revenue. The last decade has seen incredible innovations and breakthroughs in the landscape of digital solutions. One of such compelling technologies is called Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Often misconceived as a replacement for human power, the concept of AI as a technological aid is much larger, wider and pervasive. It has created greater trust, however, for the hospitality industry, it shows the promise of transforming its processes, services and facilities through AI-powered robotics. Today, the hotel industry, where comfort-defining advancements are most rapidly incorporated, has sophisticated its entire system with the adoption of many innovative methods used for providing satisfying customer service.
Let’s learn more about how hotel industry leverages Artificial Intelligence to deliver an awesome user experience.
The idea of erecting intelligent hotels
Having an intelligent hotel that surpasses customer expectations is the strategy many modern hospitality leaders and service partners conjure. What adds viability to this concept is the thought of making it all enhanced with AI-powered care, support and service. There are certain essential elements that make hotels intelligent. Some of which are:
- Concierge robots
- Digital assistance
- Voice-activated services
- Travel experience enhancers
- Automatic data processing (machine learning)
AI robots not only diminish the human involvement with its voice-activated assistants but also smarten the way hotel guest service is delivered to customer’s satisfaction. From customer’s personal choices to their smallest of needs, AI-enabled hotel concierge bots can offer minute service and careful assistance.
Artificial intelligence entering the hotel industry
Apple’s Siri started providing voice-activated assistance to its mobile users to an extent that it has become almost a norm now. Amazon Echo and Alexa have also joined the race of creating a richer, more delightful customer experience using the power of machine learning of AI software.
Ever since the artificially intelligent system has crept into the hotel industry, the hospitality sector is abuzz with AI’s ability to learn about customers using its data analytics platform that helps hotel staff create a better frame of customers. Utilizing the full potential of AI software, they can capture a gamut of information about:
- Customer Purchases
- Travel choices
- Journey patterns and itinerary
- Location preferences
- Hotel rating inquiries
- Payment methods
The knowledge gathered thus can further be translated into providing insightful experience to hotel guests as they travel, inquire, stay and enjoy the luxurious hotel amenities.
AI-powered concierge for exquisite customer service
More and more hotels have come to realize that in-depth customer service with properly harnessed customer insight is the best key to increase brand value. This is why we have begun to see a rise in mature-service hotels where customers are not only regaled with hotel’s interior charm but are also equally satisfied with real-looking AI robot concierge service.
In last few years, we have managed to feel comfortable with voice assistants on the go as well as at home, bridging the gap between machine and humans. The hospitality industry is, therefore, viewing this technology in form of dwarf hotel concierges.
Take an example of Hilton Worldwide Hotel whose new AI-based concierge Connie is transforming the hotel guests experience. Connie is deemed as the first ever AI-enabled robot with two-feet of height. Performing just like a human concierge, Connie can assist arriving hotel guests at front desk standing on its bipedal support.
Connie has the following attributes for offering exquisite customer service:
- It relies on IBM’s Watson AI for computing intelligence
- Uses travel database WayBlazer
- Gives real-time recommendations for visit-worthy sites and attractions
- Answers customer queries on the spot
- Learns from frequent customer interactions to refine its responses
- Provides excellent care and support as a robotic concierge
Exhaustive care with mobile apps
People love absolute control and flexibility and feel attracted to securing their comfort level at hotel premises. As a part of special privileges, a good number of hotels treat customers with smart controls as they arrive. A dedicated mobile app empowers customers’ stay, giving them the luxury to unlock their room, adjust room temperature, and operate curtains, order drinks and many other things using their smart mobile phone.
Here, AI-driven chatbots intervene as a vital key to customer service. Hotel guests can use hotel’s special mobile device to interact with chatbots to perform all relevant tasks including:
- Ordering meals or drinks
- Suggesting special dishes
- Controlling room temperature and lighting
- Scheduling dinners/lunch
- Managing evening reservations
- Taxi booking and itinerary planning
- Recommending interesting sightseeing and visits
- Answering critical queries
Through virtual interactions via mobile app, chatbots can bypass hotel staff and be a service representative just like a human at the other end.
Intelligent Travel companions
Travellers have evolved lately and desire a great mixture of high-grade personalization and exceptional service standards on the go. On the other hand, hotel operations often get complicated due to heavy amounts of data about visitors and hotel staff, resulting in critical challenges related to flawless customer experience. This is where intelligent travel phones can come to assist.
As soon as a guest enters their room, they can avail AI-enabled phones that offer amazing features such as:
- GPS capabilities
- Gamification and amusement
- AI-powered in-built hotel app
- Access to unlimited data and international calls
- Handy travel guide to city attractions
- Promotional offers
- Return travel booking services
- Quick access to hotel service assistants
Recently, Signature Lux Hotels in Gauteng has claimed to be the first one to furnish incredible guest experience through such digital travel companions that offer intelligent voice-activated apps.
Knowing your customer
In order to serve customers better and create superior guests experience, it is vital to first gather most knowledge about customers. The more personally you know your customer, the more you will be able to exceed their expectations. Knowing that having a window into customer’s life is of great importance, hotels over the past years have attempted to make their premise the best – a unique and most hospitable place for visitors and guests.
Before they enter hotel buildings, customers begin to experience their services right when they book rooms through different online channels and check rates, room amenities and comfort, availability, etc. Today, from planning of journey online to check out point and return back home, everything is mulled over carefully by advanced machine learning system. AI does the real work of a dedicated chaperon helping with:
- Fast online assistance
- Personalized options and recommendations
- Saving user preferences and page visits
- Travel bookings and safe routes
- Advanced meal/drink preferences
- Room booking and reservations
Thanks to Big Data element powering the Artificial Intelligence required to take care of everything customers would need. Its information classification and management system that helps learn a great deal of customer’s behaviour. AI can then use the wealth of data to address individual needs of customers and offer custom guest service.
Amazon’s Alexa for interactive experience
By now Amazon’s AI-based software service Alexa is visible in the online store. It is a cloud-based service using which software developers can custom-build unique voice-enabled experiences for customers who want an effortless and intuitive way to interact with everyday technology. Alexa has immense potential to change the future of hospitality industry with its powerful voice services.
With Alexa playing the central role in connecting hotels with guests, it becomes easy for users to make requests to hotel staff using only their voice as a major command. Via Amazon Echo, guests invest the minimal human effort to have their request delivered to respective hotel staff. The following example of ordering meal illustrates the use of Alexa:
Alexa’s smart program stages the conversation perfectly and communicates the guest messages to concerned hotel staff member for order fulfilment. Guests save time and efforts by placing their order without spending time typing the request details using touch gestures on their mobile phone. Alexa is there to fetch information, note down and suggest pre-emptively. Hotel staff receives the precise order in the first attempt without even refining it, which ensures smoother, faster customer service.
This is the best example of how artificial intelligence of Alexa helps make everything easy and available at the voice command, creating a seamless, fluid and highly personalized guest experience and thus connecting hotels with guests with little possibility of any barriers.
Hotels leveraging Artificial Intelligence
Increasingly, the hotel industry is flooded with AI robots around the globe. Currently, the wave of robotic butlers with cognitive capabilities seems unimaginably on the rise. Take a look at the following examples of the hotel embracing the idea of AI robots:
Wynn Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a giant hub of opulent, posh world-class hotels that are known to offer exceptional luxury and customer experience. Recently, Wynn Las Vegas has made an announcement saying that it will integrate Amazon Echo to digitalize its 4,748 hotel rooms in order to offer their guests tremendous control over multiple facilities using their mere voice. It will start with controlling room lighting, temperature, TV, draperies, and they are likely to leverage Echo’s personal assistant services as well.
Clarion Hotel in Stockholm
Clarion Hotel Amaranten in Stockholm is also making its name on the list of first hotels to use the AI-enabled chatbot butler which is an in-room assistant based on Amazon Echo. This assistant is equipped with power features and is designed to help guests with many of their requirements such as hailing cabs, ordering room service, online information and other hotel-related operations.
Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has also registered its name in incorporating AI-powered concierge named as Rose. It is one of unparalleled voice-activated assistants that stands out from others you have known. The concierge service comes with a calling card that guests get upon checking in. It includes a phone number to which you can text for anything you want. It also gives facility to converse with any guest requests using your voice. Rose manages queries precisely and also conveys unknown queries to hotel staff. Rose ushers you to entertainment options and local sites and specialities of the hotel.
Edwardian Hotels offer AI chatbots for their guests. They can utilize hotel’s chatbot services to request assistance by typing the text message: “Edward”. It is said that Edward is programmed to deliver sublime guest experience especially for those who opt for digital brand interaction. Unlike other contemporary voice-activated assistants, Edward can guide guests to local restaurants, bars, famous spots and can also handle complaints. Upon failing to help guests with certain requests, hotel staff can chime in as a standby for Edward.
Henna na Hotel, Japan
Henna na Hotel is said to be the first ever hotel in Japan where robots work as staff and serve hotel guests. The most outstanding hotel staffed by robots exclusively, Henna na has a humanoid female to man the front desk and a dinosaur-personified robot to help to arrive guest with onboarding. Here robotic porters carry your luggage to rooms and store it in private lockers. AI assistant robot Churi-chan serves in every room to help with adjusting room lights and providing information on climate conditions.
Even though AI is regarded as the emerging technology trend, the hospitality industry has already experienced incredible benefits and wide impact on their business momentum. From the front desk where AI-powered robotic concierge service stands in the hotel rooms where voice-activated assistants accelerate customer experience, Artificial Intelligence is seen successfully driving hotel industry today. The technology enables personalized concierge services and offers real-time recommendations and easy service requests management. Hence, we can conclude that AI is working far beyond imagination for hotel systems, a breakthrough we all have been anxiously awaiting.