How integrating AI in hospitality impacts operational dynamics

This is a viewpoint from Mitul Makadia, founder of Maruti Techlabs.

Over the past couple of years, changes within the technology space have brought forward a paradigm shift and disrupted a myriad of industries. In the case of hotels, artificial intelligence in hospitality has the power to impact and transform the industry completely.

Given the rising need for smart automation of existing processes, AI has entered the traditional hospitality landscape with a promise to enhance hotel reputation, drive revenue and take customer experience to the next level.

To meet changing consumer expectations, hotels across the globe must upgrade their operational system and services by integrating intelligence-based predictive analytics in hospitality. In this article, we will see how the adoption of AI further impacts the overall operational dynamics of the hotel industry.

Booking experience in native language

Chatbot functionality and artificial intelligence in hospitality is changing the way booking inquiries are handled and visitors are converted into customers. The front-desk hotel staff that are normally responsible for conducting booking-related queries could well be replaced with conversational bots. These intelligent chatbots are programmed to create simulated conversation through natural language processing and natural language generation (text/voice) in native language, enabling controlled, concise and efficient interactions between humans and computing machines.

The adoption of artificial intelligence in hospitality is not expected to face typical hurdles that other new technologies often face since people are already accustomed to receiving recommendations from digital platforms.

Interactions for hotel booking that are enriched with intelligent chatbots offer immense convenience to customers: 24/7 availability, fast-paced delivery service along with several custom options for booking room services.

Built in combination with call center agents, conversational AI in hotels will fuel digital reservation process helping hotel businesses up sell relevant services (such as spa, body care treatments, dinners and bars reservations, etc.)

Machine learning and automation

Hotels need precisely crafted, strategic process automation of its internal and customer care services to reduce service cost and optimize the operational cost. Machine learning capabilities make the integration of artificial intelligence in hospitality more beneficial both for hoteliers as well as guests. For this to become practically possible, hotel marketing and sales systems need to integrate chatbot software to first learn everything about the existing offers, changing customer tastes, behavioral pattern and convincing responses.

Machine Learning in AI tends to observe the shifts and consistency in trends along with delivered responses of previous agent conversations before it begins to produce its own accurate responses, custom offers and personalized suggestions that complement the lifestyle choices of travel planners. Thus, artificial intelligence not only helps enhance customer service but can also result in flawless decisions based on the massive volumes of data.

IoT & intelligence of things

Thanks to wide spread adoption and the advent of IoT, we see almost everyone with wearable devices now, measuring their body temperature, energy level, cardiovascular and respiratory activities in minute detail in order to get customized health solutions. You can compare this trend with that is happening in the hotel industry.

By establishing artificial intelligence in hospitality, hotels can create more significant opportunities to deliver excellent guest services ranging from matching guest preferences, suggesting books or music, nearby sports club, to automatically alerting hotel staff to personalized meal choices, special privileges and complimentary services, etc.

Through interconnected devices, sensors and machine learning, hotel operations system can interact perfectly with physical world, empowering guests with a highly personalized customer experience. Hotel rooms can leverage the existing network of technologies in combination with virtual assistants to further enhance the experience to the next level.

Leverage data reservoirs for tailored recommendations

The extensive dependency of people on digital technologies means an enormous mine of sumptuous customer data that hotel companies can imbibe to perceive specific interest and needs of prospective customers. Although the industry is in its infancy in adopting advanced machine learning and analytics, the use of IoT-enabled devices, sensors and full scale artificial intelligence in hotels can offer tremendous opportunities for hoteliers and travel companies to bring in repeat business and drive revenue by leveraging all available data.

Perceptive personalization and on-premise recommendations

Hotel guests are assisted fully from departure to destination with personalized recommendations that enhance their journey and after-arrival choices at the hotel (dining, drinks, breakfasts, on-property activities, etc.). After garnering heaps of customer data, hotels can use machine learning with business-specific algorithms to generate predictions about what customers are most likely to opt for.

Such analytical ability of AI can help hotels identify the next trends in product and service offerings. It can be used to evaluate and identify the traveler or customer persona in order to match them up with relevant services or packages that the hotel provides. Using the brilliance of predictive analytics and personality branding, hotels can identify the future needs and please customers by serving up what exactly they might be looking for before they even ask for it.

US hotel chain ‘Red Roof Inn’ leveraged weather and flight data to learn about flight cancellations in 2013-14. They eventually initiated a marketing campaign based on predictive analytics that attracted mobile device users in affected areas and saw a hike in business.

This demonstrates that the power of predictive analytics in hospitality can help formulate and design relevant offers and personalized experiences tailored for individual hotel guests. The practice of giving highly personalized recommendations based on an individual’s tastes continues to gain more attention with the use of GPS facilities in users’ mobile apps. By interlinking predictive analytics and customer’s geo location details, hotels can carry out certain operational tasks with minimal ease and without bothering their guests.

Voice-enabled virtual assistants

As technology grows more sophisticated and popular, hoteliers find it easy to engage and treat their guests with much better service through voice technology. Guests now expect the similar experience with in-room technology as they enjoy at home through interconnected devices.

Thanks to recent advances in artificial intelligence, hotels have begun to equip their rooms with smart devices that have voice recognition system. One hotel that has equipped as many as 5000 rooms with Amazon’s Echo speaker is Wynn Las Vegas. The guests at Wynn are able to control many features in the room with Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-controlled VA.

Hotel-specific intelligence for creating a brand reputation

With voice technology in hotels and IoT devices linking virtual assistants, hotel guests tend to enjoy smart space and even smarter services, leading to fewer interactions with hotel staff. This is the reason why hotels have already started allowing hotel guests to check-in and check-out via mobile apps. The concept of virtual keys enabled with mobile apps also allows them to control air conditioners, light intensity, and other controls.

Now the age of all-in-one devices has begun with virtual assistants to treat guests with an all encompassed personalized customer experience. The combined power of AI, IoT and virtual assistants can cater to hotel guests on the next level by introducing them to a variety of hotel luxuries, amenities, best spots, special attractions etc.

Convenience and solutions of this grade will result into automated guest services for upscale hotels, thereby creating a far better future for hotel brands. Since people expect more specials from hospitality industry, companies that implement voice technology in hotels will be among the most competitive facility providers.

AI in hospitality crafting polished communications

In 2018, AI’s ability to improve communication flow inside hotels between service and guests will modernize the overall interactions with guests. That said, the future will not see hotel personnel being completely replaced with AI and chatbots. Instead, we will have AI-powered virtual assistants functioning as an influential communication tool in synchronicity with hotel staff, which will boost a streamlined hotel management system to look after daily activities.

Also, with voice technology in hotels, customers can enjoy the speed and seamlessness while accessing the most vital contact points such as restaurants, hotel butlers, in-hotel amenities using frictionless touchscreen gestures on their voice-capable devices and text-based AI chatbots.

Hotel marketing grows more impactful and emotional

Marketers are increasingly using the term contextual marketing to add effectiveness in campaigns. Human emotions are forming the foundation of marketing strategies that contain personalized messages to target individual customers.
Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics in hospitality fuel the personalized marketing campaigns that best suit customers.

Hotel marketing experts that proactively ponder the anticipated guest emotions and motivations are likely to gain more momentum in their business growth than traditional approach. Hotel companies need to work out a range of emotions and frame a comprehensive strategy so as to determine the effect of specific services on customers.

As AI will improve the ways of collecting customer information, hotel marketing experts will adapt to innovative techniques to enhance their marketing messages. The trend of using AI-powered predictive analytics in hotels for marketing purposes can be successful even for emerging businesses in the hospitality space.

Smart guest rooms and getting smarter

The world around our homes is growing smarter every day. Gartner research says that by 2022, a typical American home will have 500 smart devices for smart living. For the hospitality industry, artificial intelligence could drive a new frontier of futuristic opportunities. With IoT and sensors imbued with AI technology, the following can happen:

  • Hotel’s wifi network can ably recognize an arriving guest’s smartphone
  • IoT system can alert the management staff for quick, frictionless check-in for the guest
  • AI-enabled system can allow auto-unlocking of the door as guests stand at the door
  • Hotel guests can adjust the light intensity and temperature of the room that matches their predetermined preferences

Market experts predict the invasion of this futuristic experience where most of the amenities and service features are connected to a hotel’s property management system for a seamless guest experience. This means multiple devices interacting with each other to provide seamless control over lighting, temperature, TV, water usage, enabling smarter rooms.

Just like smart home technology, hotel room technology also shapes into smart avatar with interconnected devices powered by AI technology. Making the most out of artificial intelligence in hotels, these devices befriend hotel guests and accompany them by smartly connecting them with voice-controlled adjustments of room amenities, including wifi, Bluetooth speakers and automatic door locks.

Purpose-built hospitality system can eventually deliver:

  •  Consolidated room service technologies
  •  Digitally interactive guest experience
  • Automated communications and integration
  • IoT-enabled device operations

Hoteliers that adopt this intelligent approach gain detailed insight into their operations and take intelligence-driven decisions to retain customers, increase reputation and drive business growth.

Conclusion

With so much pressure to beat the competition and capture wide customer base in tight deadlines, hotels across the globe will require substantial technological innovations to survive increasing demands. In a world that is more interconnected than ever, hoteliers must adopt the innovative fusion of IoT, AI and consolidated service devices to transform their space and redefine current service standards.

It is the key to enhancing the customer experience, increasing brand recognition and loyalty along with tangible revenue gains.

It is fairly evident that by integrating artificial intelligence in hospitality, we will see a fundamental redefinition of an exceptional customer experience.

This is a viewpoint from Mitul Makadia, founder of Maruti Techlabs.

Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.

 

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