By Justin Reese
Meet chatbots: Connie, Ivy and Wally.
All three serve as concierges and more – helping guests by recommending dinner spots and making reservations, or providing updated lists of local tourist attractions and directions for getting there. They are one of today’s sexiest forms of artificial intelligence (AI), and a primary point of contact for hotel guests. With each interaction they learn more and can provide ever-better service, supplementing their knowledge by tapping into a mountain of available public data
AI in hotels is being increasingly deployed throughout the industry, becoming a technology that promises to make venues smarter, more efficient and more guest-focused than ever before.
In Hotel Technology’s 2018 Lodging Technology Study of 54,409 properties, 70 percent of operators named AI a critical technology with big potential for future impact. One-third of hotels are prioritizing systems with predictive analytic capabilities (which AI drives). And nearly 20 percent expect to make AI-paired Internet of Things (IoT) upgrades to their properties.
It’s all unfolding in various innovative ways to drive an enhanced guest experience while also making operations overall more efficient. In addition to concierge chatbots, consider some of the uses that are emerging:
- The mobile connection. Many hotels feature a dedicated mobile app to connect guests to “smart” controls during their stay. The app lets them open their room door, open and close curtains, and adjust the temperature. It’s also a way to interact with the hotel’s chatbots that can schedule your dinner reservations for you and suggest special dishes you might like.
- Facial recognition. This technology – integrated into the AI suite – plays a role in guest convenience and hotel security. As part of the check-in process, it can cut waiting in line and allow guests to bypass the desk. The hotel can also use it as a basis for VIP treatment and protection against bad actors gaining access.
- Data and predictive analytics. AI’s analytic capabilities can be applied to customer and operational data and business algorithms. This makes for more informed decision-making in areas like revenue management and demand forecasting. But it also can lead to highly personalized services and packages and the ability to anticipate and act on emerging trends. Red Roof Inn, for example, used AI-driven analytics to crunch weather and flight data, then launched a marketing campaign directed to mobile users affected by bad weather and/or canceled flights. The initiative nicely bumped up business.
- Booking platforms. AI in hotels is also powering booking platforms. An AI-based direct booking platform, analyzes large volumes of data to yield the best booking engine configurations and also enable better, more personalized guest interactions.
It all makes for pretty cool stuff when AI and Big Data connect, allowing hotels to build increasingly smart and responsive operational ecosystems. Of course, there are risks. Customer privacy and data security are always a concern in a data-driven world. There are tech operational issues too – like the cost of implementation and challenges integrating systems and platforms. Ultimately, though, AI in hotels stands to advance the hospitality field, making for interesting times ahead.
HUB International’s team of brokers is available to work with you in understanding how trends and developments like AI affect your risk posture today and in the future.