In an industry where providing a “personal touch” has always been the value differentiator that distinguishes competitive brands, the introduction of AI-powered chatbots to provide more satisfactory customer service may seem counter intuitive. On closer look, however, mobile technology has redefined consumer expectations when it comes to on-demand services, and hotel patrons are no different. Implementing chatbots can actually assist hotel staff in maintaining quickly rendered, high quality levels of service guests have come to expect, without losing the personal touch.
In adopting chatbots, a hotel can more efficiently service typical guest requests, especially the more routine ones (a request for more towels, reporting a maintenance issue, ordering room service) or when accessibility for taking such requests needs to be on a twenty-four/seven basis. In the hotel context, chatbots afford much of the functionality that mobile apps provide, because they don’t require guests to hunt-up and install an app; they are actively running on the hotel’s website or on the customer’s Facebook interface.
This article from Headliner Labs discusses five ways chatbots are being used by the hotel industry:
1. Managing a Guest’s Stay
From check-in to check-out, chatbots can send a regular stream of helpful updates related to a guest’s stay. A chatbot, rather than the front desk clerk, can notify a guest when his or her room becomes available, or conversely remind guests of the property’s check-out policy. The chatbot can even be used to set wake-up calls and notify guests of any dinner, spa or golf reservations they may have made. For hotel personnel, this automation reduces the volume of simple queries directed at human staff and tying up the front desk phone. It also cuts down the manpower waste associated with missed reservations and appointments.
2. Personalized Upselling Opportunities.
With its unique ability to notify guests with useful, bite-sized messages, a chatbot can proactively notify guests to upgraded amenities like room category upgrades, spa services, on-property dining arrangements and add-on activities, etc. Because chatbots are powered by machine learning algorithms that optimize and personalize messages, the customer interaction is found to be helpful, informative and personalized, leading to upsell conversion, rather than being seen as aggressive and intrusive.
3. Handling Routine Customer Inquiries
Some 67% of queries directed at concierges or front desk staff are of a repetitive nature. These requests can often be reduced to the same five or six tasks which a properly programmed chatbot can handle with ease. A voicebot (similar to Amazon’s Alexis or Google Home voice assistants), for instance, placed in the guest room can take requests for new towels, extra pillows, additional shampoo or soap, and also provide the hours of operation of various hotel amenities, and serve as a clearinghouse for basic property information.
4. Ordering Room Service
Using a chatbot for room service meal orders is much more efficient than having a guest calling the kitchen. Chatbots can provide photos of the menus, enabling guests to click and instantly order. With proper integration into the hotel’s system, a chatbot can provide the guest updates on how long the wait will be before meal arrives and what the total of the order was.
5. Keeping in Touch After Checkout
After guests check out, chatbots are a perfect channel for soliciting brand satisfaction feedback and even securing additional room bookings. Chatbots can send former guests feedback surveys along with incentives for filling them out. Then, they can follow-up by sending booking promotions and deals for future stays which is a highly effective way to encourage a second booking and brand loyalty.
Chatbots are poised to efficiently manage the continuous stream of routine guest requests, freeing up human staff to focus on providing the unique and personal touch extras that truly enhance the guest experience.