Automation has been knocking on the door of every industry since long before computers were around, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that even some of the more human aspects of hotel communication are being traded in for an automated replacement, i.e. chatbots.
NB: This is an article from Clock
The chatbot technology relies on algorithms which allow the bot to understand what is being asked of it and to then proceed to give a pre-written response. Chatbots have a host of useful implementations especially for hotel chains who are looking for ways to cut down on customer service expense without undermining the quality of the service they provide their guests.
This has opened new doors for revenue optimisation , as hoteliers are now actively looking for ways of utilizing this new technology to the best of their ability. Here are some of the ways in which hotels are using chatbots to improve their revenue margins:
1. Can provide round the clock service at a fraction of the expense
The strongest suit of chatbots is that they are always on, something that would cost an exorbitant amount and would be an unrealistic expectation of a small or medium hotel chain. Your hotel chat can answer queries automatically at any given time of the day, allowing guests to simplify their booking process by giving them the assurance that they need to proceed with their booking.
2. Can improve your direct booking segment and upsell guests at the same time
A voicebot would allow guests to directly have a conversation about their inquiries, and they can do so in their own language. The language barrier can often be the chief reason why potential guests default to the familiarity of online distribution channels as the platforms are translated in their mother tongue and have fewer needs for communication in a second language.
By offering the guest the option to have a conversation, be it in a written or verbal form with your hotel’s AI you are alleviating frustration and increasing their chances of booking with your directly.
If we take as an example travel bots used by airline companies and online travel agencies to ensure a more seamless trip for their clients, we can see that not only are the bots aiding guests in simple tasks such as buying tickets and picking seats, but they can also analyze the search patterns of guests and make recommendations on attractive packages , better deals and services that guests can take advantage of. In short trip, bots have increasingly taken out the planning aspect out of a trip on the company’s end, as much of these tasks are now responded to by an algorithm. Here are some noteworthy examples of hotels using chatbots in their day-to-day operations :
Mariott’s Aloft Hotel allows guests to request services via text message. Mobile friendly hotel chatbots are a great way of upselling guests on services as you do not need the presence of staff to secure a sale, and the guest feels like they are allowed a lot more control over their stay.
Developed by Bespoke Inc., Bebot is a chatbot which acts as a hotel concierge. It can answer questions from guests, book services, and make recommendations if asked.
- Skyscanner’s Trip Bot
It offers the opportunity of booking ton their mobile device, Facebook or Skype. The service goes as far as making budget flight recommendations and advice on which are the busiest days to travel on.
Social media influencers are the go-to product pushers, especially in event-marketing. Luckily, many of them would find a tradeoff a perfectly fair deal. Unlike most brands marketing for hospitality offers an immediate benefit to influencers, they can stay at your establishment for the duration of the event, in lieu of a daily post with the appropriate hashtag, exposing your brand to hundreds of thousands of people.
As far as creative hotel sales ideas go, this is both one of the most out-there, but also the most heavily used by both independent establishments and small to medium hotel chains. Hotel chains in particular stand to benefit greatly from social media exposure, as influencers tend to have a ripple effect across their audience. Who knows maybe staying at your establishment could become the next trend.
3. Cuts downtime and resources dedicated to Customer Service
One of the best things about chatbots is that they can sift through a guest’s request or complaint and forwards connect them to your personnel once the nature of the inquiry has been established, giving them update in the process. This can elevate your customer service, allowing your staff to improve on guest communication. A chatbot can even book services for your guest such as booking a table at a restaurant or arranging for a cab ride, the chatbot effectively acts in the capacity of a concierge, which is at your guests’ disposal 24/7.
However, while this technology offers guests and hoteliers alike a myriad of opportunities, it is still far from perfect. There are many issues that stem from adopting chatbots as a primary customer service at any company and while the technology is always improving it is important to keep these in mind:
- Chatbot responses are limited
The algorithm can learn in many ways when it comes to search queries and recommendations, but the responses a chatbot can give remain fixed. This has resulted in a degree of hostility on the part of the less tech-savvy of guests. So while most will gladly make use of the convenience offered by the bot, there should be an option for opting out, allowing a guest to speak directly to a member of your staff.
- Chatbots can be quite costly
The technology is still evolving, so this is simply not an option that every establishment can afford. However, medium-sized hotel chains can greatly profit from this investment as the right combination of chatbot services would afford them a head start in the increasingly growing hospitality market.
- The technology while quickly becoming mainstream is still in its early days
This is important when considering it as a long term investment. Having an intricate understanding on how to manage a chatbot so that you get the best value for your business and of course choosing the right chatbot will require some research and consideration.
Artificial intelligence has certainly made waves in the hospitality industry and while the technology itself is constantly evolving, it seems that industry professionals have embraced the change hotel chatbots bring to the table and are eagerly anticipating to see the evolution of AI and how it will reshape hospitality and travel.