AI Fuelled Automation Ushers Hospitality Guest Experience 2.0
It has always been the core mission of hotels to treat all their guests with utmost care and attention. After all, it is customer satisfaction that makes a hotel successful while a single bad service can effectively ruin its reputation that takes several years to build. However, achieving a seamless hotel guest experience can be daunting at times as hotel personnel and concierge are overwhelmed with a lot of repetitive queries and requests on a daily basis.
So, what is the solution then? Automation. Yes, the answer lies in automating hotel services that are repetitive and don’t need human interaction, so that not only the customer can experience faster and efficient service but the hotel can allocate its human resources to the most value added services.
According to Headliner Labs Co-Founder and COO Dana Gibber, up to 67% of daily queries are repetitive and can often be reduced to five to six topics via text chatbot on a smartphone app or a voice chatbot platform in every hotel room. That is why the hospitality industry is moving towards adopting automation, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things technologies to augment the limitations of handling such repetitive tasks.
In a 2018 PricewaterhouseCoopers study, about 3.3 million U.S. jobs (25%) in the hospitality and food service sector would be automated by the early 2030s. The automation of these services would increase efficiency, save valuable time and minimise cost without compromising the quality of services and overall customer experience.
Bridging the Gap: A case study
Whether it’s just a budget bed and breakfast or a five-star luxury hotel, it is important to bridge the gap between what the guests want and what the hotel can provide. Hotels should not rely on great amenities alone, it should go hand-in-hand with great service. To find out what services and benefits could be seamlessly automated, Winimy did a pilot of our unified communications artificial intelligence bot in Park Hotel Group, a leading 3 star hotel chain in Singapore.
In our Park Hotel Group report, one of the most important areas to automate is the information desk since 28% of guests ask questions about hotel amenities and WiFi access. As the backbone of hotel operations, room service is a very critical transaction since it keeps staff busy with 23% of guests ask for housekeeping and food delivery all the time. A crucial element in the hotel guest experience happens before and after their hotel stay with 16% of guests wanting early check in and late check out. The rest of the service requests require troubleshooting with 23% of guests asking for help in room app controls while the remaining 10% want Internet connection.
It is in the hotels’ best interest to encourage guest engagement as positive feedback often creates brand-loyalty and increases the number of repeat customers. In this day and age, there is a need to reach out to the tech-savvy, discriminating millennials as only 20% of them are fully engaged with the hospitality industry as mentioned in a 2016 Gallup poll. Meeting their expectations would mean that it will ensure a more positive stay. Gallup also discovered that when millennials are fully engaged as customers, they’re more profitable and loyal than other customer segments.
In the J.D. Power 2018 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, technology has become more pervasive in the guest experience. It means that hotels have to add more capabilities as only 10% of guests have a tablet with in-room information. Mobile app adoption rate remains high, the study adds.
Changing Hotel Guest Experience: Customised Chatbots
The future of hotels relies on how smart technology is effectively utilised and how fast people adopt it. By implementing a more personalised digital hotel experience, guests with strong preference for digital channels would be able to adopt it seamlessly. Ultimately, automation would make every aspect of hotel operation more intuitive and user-friendly for both guests and hotel staff alike. With our experience in providing AI-powered customer engagement technologies, we have customised solutions that will change hotel guest experience like never before.
It is essential for hotels to have custom chatbots that can handle high frequency of guest interactions and queries that the human staff can’t handle 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More importantly, there should be omnichannel integration so that the digital hotel experience remains consistent whether someone makes an online query on the website or a guest requesting for room service via a voice-controlled e-Butler.
More luxury hotels are taking advantage of voice-based concierge services by making it easier for guests to get information or assistance. Hilton Worldwide has Connie, the first true AI concierge bot. Radisson Blu has Edward, their guest self-service voice chatbot that can even send a human staff when needed. Winimy develops custom hotel AI chatbots that drives more bookings with those who don’t have.
Fueling Customer Insights with AI
We understand the significance of a balance between hotel requirements and guest expectations. With AI predictive analytics, customer insights will be used to create actionable events in automating hotel tasks. Whenever someone successfully books a room online, the AI will automatically schedule a customised pre-planned itinerary for a specific guest based on the information gathered from previous visits or data from chatbot conversations. Once mobile check-in is activated, the housekeeping staff is automatically deployed to set-up the room and transportation service is sent to the airport on schedule
Guest Experience Curation
The use of machine learning algorithm will allow hotels to automatically build a 360-degree profile of every guest so that it will be possible to curate a more personalised experience. Based on that guest profile, the hotel AI will be able to provide relevant recommendations and loyalty programs and even upsell relevant services (such as spa, body care treatments and dinner reservations) thereby ensuring guests will have a stronger emotional connection with the hotel.
New Digital Hospitality Ecosystem
Most travelers nowadays are digital so it is crucial to create that ideal guest experience on a new digital hotel ecosystem that revolves around custom smartphone apps and hotel automation systems. Guests who install a hotel app would be able to receive promotional offers, do online bookings and even provide customer service anytime, anywhere. On the other hand, the hotel automation system will run a whole host of smart devices that controls room lighting, ambient temperature, appliances and even the in-house personal assistant services and robot concierge.
Incorporating automation and smart technology in hospitality industry is a big investment, and it takes a great deal of coordination and customisation to make it right. More importantly, there is a delicate balancing act involved: reducing operational costs, addressing hotel needs, and achieving that ideal guest experience. While many hotels have adopted, these technologies continue to advance with new ways to use them for improved hotel guest experience.