The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a terrible toll on hospitality companies around the world. In the U.S. alone, hotels lost $46 billion in revenue between mid-February and July 30. They have been forced to look towards new technology to operate more efficiently. This technology includes AI.
The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) is not new, as it has been the subject of novels and films for decades. Theory and imagination have always existed for this type of creation, but the technology was too limited for it to really exist. But not anymore. Machine learning and intelligent computers are present in almost all industries, contributing to improve service and efficiency.
In some cases the machines really can do better, with many programs winning easily the best chess players or real masters of the competitions. Even Apple?s personal assistant Siri has been in operation for six years and smart computers are increasingly present in the hotel industry too.
Hotel platforms can be strengthened
Avvio, a provider of hotel technology, recently launched Allora, the world’s first direct sales platform with AI technology. Allora’s job is to boost direct reservations and customer loyalty by offering the best online experiences.
It relies on learning models to analyze large volumes of data, and identify which variations will produce the best booking engine configuration. With the data collected, Allora can maintain more personalized interactions with customers and move away from the single-focus booking process.
Easier management of big data
It is important for hotels to discover as much information about travelers as possible, so that they can tailor the experience to meet specific individual needs. Artificial intelligence can be a valuable tool for this, not only to analyze data much faster, but also to automate many resulting actions.
Finally, the challenge of collecting and analyzing data will be simplified by technology that is intelligent enough to make strategic decisions about customer characteristics and behavior.
Travelers will become smarter buyers
If AI assistance becomes commonplace, global travelers will have much more power, as they will be able to search and consult travel options with very specific criteria and receive the answers they need almost instantly. In essence this means that hotels will have to be extremely flexible in what they can offer customers in terms of packages, rooms, additional products and other services.
Customer service will be taken to another level
The potential of AI to improve service in the hotel industry is unlimited. Examples include:
If the artificial intelligence can be instantly synchronized with the customer’s cell phone or use facial recognition technology, there is no need for formal identification or check-in. Likewise, with a room key in the cell phone, travelers will not have to waste time between entering the hotel and settling in their room.
The guest will also not need to call or wait for someone to accept his request, as the AI will allow him to communicate on the spot. Food or drinks can even be delivered automatically with AI bots.
Hotels will not need bellboys or doormen if the cars can drive and park themselves.
Cleaning and maintenance
AI systems will be extremely efficient in meeting programs and maintaining standards in terms of cleanliness and preparation for the arrival of clients.
Smart technology will reduce hotel costs by identifying which lights and appliances are being used to turn off those that are not to save energy.
Hotels are already using artificial intelligence
There are a number of facilities that are already using robots and AI programs to improve the customer experience. Some examples:
Connie, the janitor
Connie is a Hilton employee and can provide customers with a wide variety of advice on attractions, restaurants or activities to do at the destination. As she learns from each interaction she is constantly improving her knowledge and the services she can provide.
Ivy, the Direct Messenger
Ivy is a program used by many of the major chains that basically automates all interactions with the host. Designed specifically for the hospitality industry, Ivy can manage around 90% of requests in real time, effectively becoming the main point of contact throughout your stay. If there are any questions you cannot answer, you immediately pass them on to the appropriate department.