The desktop computer remains the most popular device for travel bookings, but smartphones are catching up. Either way, digital devices drive travel planning, and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) still lead the market for hotel bookings.
Hotels still seek incentives for direct booking, but there are other opportunities to engage with potential guests.
While OTAs may offer the perception of discounted prices and serve as a way to comparison shop, that’s about as far as they go towards providing the full hotel experience that many guests are looking for. The handoff between the OTA to the hotel offers one of these opportunities and the Digital Concierge is one way to oblige.
The hotel industry is adopting the power of Artificial Intelligence, and the Digital Concierge (think ‘Alexa’ for hotels) is stepping in to cater to specific guest questions, faster front office service, restaurant recommendations, and personalized guest experience.
Guests are wanting more than aggregated prices. They want faster check-in and check-outs, immediate answers to questions, restaurant and entertainment recommendations tailored to their taste, and more autonomy to plan their own itinerary.
Digitally powered, personalized customer service experience can engage guests from pre-booking to post-stay, with the speed and accuracy that guests are demanding.
According to Becominghuman.ai, the overall strategy for hotels should include providing each guest with an exceptional experience catered to their specific needs at that very moment. This is where artificial intelligence comes into play.
How Can AI Help Digital Concierge Services?
The hotel industry is adopting Voice AI at a rapid pace. By giving customers voice-activated and mobile options to easily ask questions, confirm dates and chat with the front desk, hotels can provide a seamless guest experience and offer their customers big benefits.
This also presents an opportunity to collect data using Voice AI from multiple sources and assess for areas of improvement. From this data, hotels can explore ways to improve their guests’ experiences by creating customized services, offering promotions and more.
Providing Faster Concierge Services Through AI Concierge Bots
As discussed earlier, digital is just faster. Not only for check-in and check-outs, but the Digital Concierge also has immediate access to a large database of information, including maps, directions, phone numbers, and photos, and can respond quickly to specific queries or searches.
Becominghuman.ai provides a good example, stating that “Amazon’s AI-based Alexa offers a custom-built voice-enabled experience for customers and has changed the future of the hospitality industry with its powerful voice services and is extensively used in hotels. It is easy for guests’ requests for services to be delivered to the right hotel staff via Amazon Echo.”
What Hotels Are Currently Using Voice-Based AI?
The following are examples taken from Becominghuman.ai:
“Hilton Worldwide – Connie is one of the first true AI Concierge bots at Hilton Worldwide. An IBM Watson-enabled robot, Connie helps hotel guests by providing information on exciting places to visit, restaurant recommendations, and exact locations of amenities on the property. Connie helps answer customers’ questions, fine-tuning its responses as it learns from queries. Hilton reports this helps the hotel operate more efficiently while keeping customers surprised and delighted.
Edwardian Hotel – Radisson Blu owned Edwardian hotels have ‘Edward’ as their AI chatbot for guest self-service. Guests can request assistance by sending Edward a text message. Edward reports on hotel amenities, receives guest complaints in a matter of seconds via SMS and gives directions and tips. In addition to helping resolve queries, Edward can also fetch a human helper when needed.
Clarion Hotel Amaranten, Stockholm – Clarion is the first hotel in the world to have a butler chatbot serve guests in their suites. An in-room assistant ‘Alexa,’ based on Amazon Echo, is designed to help guests with their requirements, such as ordering cabs, waking the guests in the morning, ordering room service, searching the Internet for information, and more.”
Digital versus Personal
The best way to provide a great experience for today’s guests is through seamless and easy interactions. Make the guest’s trip as convenient as possible with some memorable extras.
While there is still some debate on the role of the Concierge–digital versus personal–the digital benefits are worth considering and even ‘personalizing’ with your hotel’s brand.
And don’t forget the ‘experience-driven’ travelers and Millennial travelers with their growing spending power and high expectations for digital interaction.
“Traditional hotel chains are catering to the tastes of young adults who have never known a world without the internet.” – The New York Times
Here is some digital concierge software to research: