rtificial intelligence – it’s the hottest of hot topics lately, from ways that it’s helping make our lives easier, to ways that it’s… not.
For hotels and destinations, AI has the potential to not only enhance your customer experience but maybe even change the way you operate as a whole. This powerful tool has the capability to personalize, analyze, predict, and serve as a personal assistant for not only your guests, but also your staff. Here’s a look at just a few of the things this popular new tech can do.
6 Advantages Artificial Intelligence Can Offer
1. Personalized travel recommendations: One of the things we often lament are recommendation engines that don’t give good suggestions, but AI is changing all of that. AI can analyze massive amounts of traveler data in the blink of an eye and make relevant recommendations on the spot. It uses data points like travelers’ past behavior, preferences, searches, and social media history to understand what they’d like to do and how they’d like to do it.
2. Chatbot assistants: Much like the iconic Rose at the the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, hotels can empower chatbots to provide 24/7 customer assistance, resolve issues in real time, and answer FAQs. These don’t replace the job of a concierge, but rather free that position up to handle the more complicated requests.
3. Facial recognition: This application of AI is being used at some hotels to streamlining the check-in and check-out processes, prevent fraud and enhance security. Instead of digging through their belongings for ID, guests can simply stand in front of a camera for instant identity verification.
4. Robotics: Robots can complete a wide range of on-property tasks, from delivering room service to disinfecting rooms to pointing guests to the nearest restrooms or elevators. Check out this video of how robots at the Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel do everything from transport luggage to deliver a late-night snack.
5. Predictive analysis: Just like data can be used at the individual level to make recommendations, AI can also use analytics to make large-scale predictions, including weather reports, flight schedules, peak travel times, pricing, inventory management and more. Automating as many of these tasks as possible means a higher ROI, more efficiencies, and more focus on the complicated tasks that can’t be done without human smarts.
6. Local guides: Whether hotel guests are on property or haven’t arrived, yet, AI-powered programs can help them book flights, rent cars, make restaurant and attraction reservations, and more. It all adds up to an enhanced customer experience that they’re going to want to enjoy again and again.
Top 5 Challenges in Artificial Intelligence
That all sounds great, but AI isn’t perfect. Recent users of programs like chatGPT have reported some potentially serious issues, including a discovery that the technology “hallucinates,” coming up with completely wrong answers. Here are some other concerns about AI.
1. Privacy: Remember that “massive amount of data” we referenced earlier? That’s all personal, and all about you. Although ethical marketers use that data carefully to craft “you” as an anonymous shopper profile, it could wreak havoc in the wrong hands. Make sure that you have robust and strict privacy and data-collection policies in place before you work with any AI company.
2. Bias: Even though it’s “artificial intelligence,” the code is still written by humans, with human biases, preconceptions and preferences. Because of this, it’s still imperative to keep a living eye on your automated functions to ensure they’re giving customers the experience you want them to have. (In other words, chatbot concierges run amok.)
3. Technical difficulties: AI is not do-it-yourself. It’s a highly complex system that’s still in experimental and growth stages, which means that it not only comes with system bugs, it requires technical expertise to administer correctly. Always ensure that you have the right resources in place to deploy these types of systems in a controlled, effective manner.
4. Customer experience: This type of technology should enhance the customer experience, but if not executed correctly it can cause confusion and a million frustrations. (It’s like the next level of shouting “Representative!” at the phone). If you decide to implement AI to make recommendations, help with booking or perform other customer tasks, our advice is to be mindful of what your customers want, what they have responded well to in the past, and test, test, test to make sure the service runs smoothly.
5. Cost: This is the bottom line for so many business decisions, and AI isn’t cheap. As you head down this road, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against the costs of development and adoption. Is it worth the investment? Or are other approaches more beneficial for your company?
AI is a Rapidly Growing Trend: 5 Ways to Level Up
Artificial intelligence has been around as a concept for decades, but in 2023, it’s not only reaching scale, it’s becoming an expected standard. A recent study found that 74 percent of travelers are interested in hotels using AI to tailor services and offers like room pricing, food suggestions, or discounts.
In other words, if you want to stay competitive in the hospitality game, AI is no longer a nice thought. If you’re ready to level-up your AI game, here are initial steps to get you on the the right path.
1. Define your goals: Specify the areas where you want to use AI to improve the hotel experience, either for guests or staff. The opportunities with AI are endless, so (especially where budgets are concerned) it’s important to focus your needs.
2. Do your homework: Research everything you can – all available solutions, the features they offer, the things other hoteliers have been saying about them, and the vendors who specialize in various services. The more information you have, the more you know not only what you do want, but what you don’t.
3. Develop a plan: What’s your timeline? Set realistic milestones for implementing any new technologies, determine a budget, and assign resources. Especially with emerging tech like AI, it’s also important to identify risks and potential bugs at the outset, along with a plan for mitigating any issues that arise. (A trusted vendor partner can be a life-saving help in this area.)
4. Train your staff: Everyone should be comfortable not only using any new technology, but be familiar with procedures and protocols. This is also a great time to ease any job-related fears that may arise.
5. Continuously monitor performance: AI is not a set-it-and-forget-it tech. It’s constantly evolving, which means it needs to be constantly under the watch of human eyes. This includes ensuring that it’s achieving goals and delivering an enhanced experience. Regular evaluations can determine what’s working, and where adjustments need to be made.
While it’s true that AI can be expensive, the cost of falling behind trends can be even more harmful. Coming up with a smart solution for your specific property is a matter of knowing what you want to improve using tech and creating a solid plan for how you’ll get there.