The hospitality industry has a new secret weapon: artificial intelligence. Leading hospitality organizations deploy AI-based technology in nearly every aspect of their business. These modern practices and the benefits they serve are quickly being adopted by businesses of all shapes and sizes as technology solutions and smart features are made more widely available, affordable and customizable.
As guests return to hotels, resorts, casinos and other venues post-pandemic, we are witnessing a technological reckoning between hospitality capabilities, health/safety needs and guest expectations. It’s anything but business as usual as technology is reshaping the hospitality industry. Here are five ways hospitality organizations are enhancing the guest experience with AI:
#1: Create a Frictionless, Stress-Free Interaction with Traffic Flow Intelligence
Hospitality guests usually fit into one of two categories: business travelers or vacationers. For both types of visitors, time is a precious resource and frictionless interactions are a priceless currency. If a guest’s first impression of a hotel, resort or casino is a logjam of cars at the venue entrance followed by a long wait to check in at the concierge desk, the guest is in an experience deficit before they even receive room keys. Furthermore, the staff is now at a disadvantage having to make up for the poor experience before the initial customer touch point.
Artificial intelligence has the power to ensure guest arrivals are seamless and stress-free by empowering staff to process a venue’s available data (entrance and parking lot visuals, guest check-in times, etc.) to derive intelligent insights about traffic trends, dwell areas and more. These insights aid management in optimizing development infrastructure layout and staffing to ease bottlenecks and reduce wait times. These same AI-enabled principles can be applied to practically every type of hospitality arena from cruise ship, bars and even casino floors.
#2: Build the Ideal Environment Through Guest Trends
Where do guests tend to congregate in a hotel lobby? Is it near the fireplace? Around windows that bring in natural light or offer a spectacular view of the city? Video analytics combined with AI converts random guest movements into trends. These trends can provide immediate, actionable value (adding another television to a lounge area, for instance) or useful for long-term projects (renovations or layout planning for a hotel chain’s future construction).
AI can get even more granular to help shape a superior guest experience. Take temperature data as an example. Imagine being able to gather specific data from room thermostats to inform management decisions about heating and cooling hallways and other common areas. This information could also inform decisions for room temperature presets – even providing the possibility for customized settings for return or VIP visitors. In the same way that Netflix curates its offerings by customer, a hospitality venue might use AI insights to stock soda, snack bars and hand soap based on guest preferences as well.
#3: Up Sell Opportunities with Amenities Planning by Analyzing Guest Movement
A key to driving profits within the industry is finding and developing add-on sales opportunities. This isn’t news to hospitality organizations, but making decisions about those opportunities can be tricky. Whether it’s building an in-lobby coffee shop or simply installing a vending machine, management needs more than a best guesstimate to determine a return on investment. AI can aggregate information such as total number of guests, foot traffic near the proposed location, similar in-venue purchases and even guest survey results to help venues determine the value of new amenities, as well as stocking and staffing choices.
#4: When to Automate & How by Knowing Your Customer
Increasingly, hotels and other hospitality venues are turning to automation to help create the touchless engagements more guests are seeking today. The additional benefit of automation for management, of course, is a more nimble operation and the cost savings that comes with a leaner staff. But any conversion to automation requires an up-front cost and consideration of its upstream and downstream effects.
One example of this type of valuable analysis is check-in kiosks. In theory, they can help get guests to their rooms faster, save on staffing costs and free up remaining employees to address other areas of the business that automation can't solve. Yet some guests still prefer the human touch of a front-desk clerk or feel intimidated by, or struggle with technology. AI can assist in the decision to install kiosks and evaluate guest preferences, peak check-in hours and staffing logistics that either support or don’t support automated processes.
#5: Optimize Infrastructure via Building Monitoring & Analytics
Just as rooms can be designed to adjust temperature, lighting and other settings for ideal guest conditions and maximum efficiency, certain non-automated components of the guest experience can be monitored and addressed with the assistance of AI too. Consider lobby restrooms which may be used more or less based on any number of variables. Rather than scheduling arbitrary maintenance checks and choosing between wasting the time of hotel staff or risking messy bathroom stalls, hotels can employ smart technology such as video analytics or occupancy sensors. With real-time alerts, staff is notified of cleaning and supply needs only at appropriate times. That data can also be repurposed to optimize ordering of supplies based on a hotel’s usage, storage, supplier’s price and bulk savings based on chain purchases.
The 5 examples above are just a handful of ROI-driven benefits artificial intelligence enables within the hospitality industry. AI integration is an attainable solution for some of the most vexing challenges currently faced by the hospitality organizations. It is those that embrace technologies such as this that are thriving and ensuring longevity of their business in this highly competitive industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liam Galin is CEO of BriefCam. With more than 20 years of leadership experience at international technology companies in various market segments, Liam is passionate about building connections between the Market, Technology, and People, in constant pursuit of innovation and new ways of approaching everyday challenges.