The cornerstone of the hospitality industry is to provide amazing personalised service in order to ensure the ultimate enjoyable guest experience. At its core, hospitality provides a human experience: friendly staff greet you with a smile and tend to your every need and quintessential experiences like offloading your plight and delight to the barman-come-therapist, making friends with the ladies who work at the spa, and laughing at jokes made by the friendly waiter are phenomenons which make the idea of hospitality connect with people on a personal level.
But on the other hand, a more tedious and often frustrating side of hospitality is ever-present: laborious check-in and out procedures, enquiring about rates and specials, making and cancelling bookings, ordering room service at unusual hours, etc. These can really ruin a guest’s experience if not done right, and more importantly, people are increasingly becoming frustrated with outdated procedures which require man-power in a world where even satisfying your need for spirituality has an app.
The implementation of chatbots in the hospitality industry aims to streamline and improve these sometimes gruelling hospitality admin processes to ensure better guest satisfaction, and ultimately more revenue for hotels. Here’s how.
Chatbots are being used as a reservation channel to get direct bookings
Gone are the days where hotels and B&Bs lose out on reservations due to the frustrations born from the hassle of bookings. In the past guests have had to incur the cost of a call, dealing with busy lines and long waits to speak to a human. Nowadays most people are using online booking platforms or direct online bookings with the hotel. Many give you the option of submitting special requests and these requests get delivered the old fashioned way — hello email. Booking.com was one of the first mass booking platforms to integrate a bot into their booking experience. The Booking.com booking assistant helps facilitate any queries you may have throughout the booking process. Using a simple menu mechanism is helps narrow down queries and is also able to pass on messages direct to the hotel you’re staying at when Booking’s booking assistant doesn’t know the answer. Booking.com is not the only platform or hotel group that have started using AI technology. This step forward is making everything a lot simpler for travellers.
Chatbots can help build accurate guest profiling
By gaining valuable insight into customer habits and preferences, hotels are now able to build a proper and accurate system of guest profiling. This allows them to promote personalised offers to guests which will increase guest loyalty. Hotels can build upon the insights gathered from their visitor-chatbot interactions to see what guests like and dislike and where the latest consumer trends are leaning in order to improve their service offerings. One example of this would be the Marriott hotel group’s use of their chatbot to surprise and delight loyal customers. Using the channel to reward customers with loyalty points when they engage with the bots’ content. With Marriott linking its loyalty program to its chatbot experience, they managed to win first place at Chief Marketers 2017 for the best loyalty program.
This kind of technology provides the hospitality industry unprecedented and unique insight into their customer profiles that doesn’t require in-person interaction and dated satisfaction forms. Hotels can now make tailored recommendations to improve guest loyalty.
Chatbots connect hotels to their guests
With the use of chatbots hotels are now able to interact and connect with their guests like never before. Chatbots make connections with guests before they arrive, such as booking reminders, directions to the premises, etc. and are with the guest throughout the entirety of their stay, and long after they have checked out. Introducing Bebot and Hoperator:
One of the first fully dedicated chatbots for the hospitality industry, Bebot is a fully functional, AI-powered hotel concierge. It provides guests with instant, real-time assistance covering all frequent queries and more detailed information hotel staff is expected to know. Bebot provides exclusive recommendations on fun activities and sights to see around the area and can even make restaurant bookings. Bebot’s results are optimized for the needs of each guest and can provide answer a host of travel related queries such as activity bookings, directions, hotel facilities, and much more.
Hoperator is a concierge and sale platform used by hotels, online travel agents, tour operators and BnBs around the world. Through highly targeted custom messages, users are able to monitor and intercept leads in real-time. It is one platform where a business can manage their communications like live chat, email, SMS and Facebook Messenger. Hospitality enterprises can chat directly with their guests, offer digital concierge services and create automate targeted upselling messages.
These services are also offered 24/7 so ease of convenience is paramount. Anything the guests want to know or arrange can be done at any hour, from anywhere. This increases guest loyalty and spikes the number of repeat visits. It also reduces the strain on reception services and frees up time for employees to focus on more important tasks.
Ordering room service
At Edwardian Hotels, Edward, the hotel’s virtual host and everyone’s favourite bell boy has taken over a number of duties at the hotel. Over his short life span, he has gone from being a text message away, to a chat app and now Edward can talk as well. Many people think he’s a real-life butler. The plan is to continue to develop his functionality and allow for voice responsive speakers in the room so in the near future you’ll be ordering your room service from Edward directly.
There is no doubt that chatbot technology has transformed the mechanics and operations of many industries across the globe, and the hospitality industry is no different. With the rise of the millennial traveller who is constantly mobile and connected, the way they interact with the world is through the conveniences a smartphone provides. A new generation of traveler and hotel guest are opting for self-bookings and check-ins, and an unparalleled ease of convenience. When incorporated correctly, chatbots will eliminate the worst and most-undesirable aspects of hotel accomodation, without compromising the human-ness and soul of hospitality.