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The Future of Hotel Communication: Guest-Led Voice Assistants

Hotels can bridge the growing gap between guest expectations and staffing limitations with sophisticated modern voice technology.
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Hotel contact centers face increasing pressure due to understaffing issues. In fact, 87% of US hotels report insufficient personnel, and 36% have severe shortages. Under-resourced teams struggle to deliver timely, personalized services, leading to missed reservations and revenue.

While some hotel contact center leaders have turned to voice automation to address staffing shortages, outdated voice technologies have historically failed to deliver acceptable results. But with more sophisticated modern voice technology that lets customers speak naturally, hotels can bridge the growing gap between guest expectations and staffing limitations.

Serving Guests on Preferred Channels

To address rising demand, hotels have rolled out apps enabling self-service features like check-in and browsing FAQs that don’t require staff. While useful for repeat visitors, these apps don’t solve the needs of all guests. Infrequent guests often don’t want the hassle of downloading an app they may not use again. Instead, these guests still depend on phone and on-site staff for support.

AI voice assistants meet surging demand while improving guest experiences, allowing hotels to serve guests on their channel of choice, whether app or phone. At the same time, this technology alleviates overburdened staff. Intelligent assistants handle routine guest inquiries across both channels. This frees up hotel workers to focus on delivering personalized, welcoming experiences onsite.

Increasing Capacity

As occupancy nears pre-pandemic levels with less staff to assist guests, efficiently managing requests is critical. Voice assistants can field a wide range of routine guest questions and requests, including reservations, room availability, check-out times, restaurant hours and more. During peaks in call volume from seasonal travel surges or holidays, an AI assistant shoulders the bulk of these expected inquiries. Staff can instead concentrate on in-person guest services, like arranging special celebrations, surprise packages or anticipating guest needs. 

Delivering Welcoming Phone Experiences

Whether making a reservation or ordering room service, guests expect a warm interaction, not a robotic voice. If guests don’t feel comfortable with automation, they’ll demand a human agent.

The ideal voice assistant delivers the same seamless comfort as chatting with knowledgeable hotel staff. The experience should mirror the fluid interaction with an expert concierge, front desk attendant or reservations agent. The voice assistant must create frictionless, personalized engagement that leaves guests feeling cared for rather than coded for.

Alleviating Pressure with Insights

Each guest interaction generates valuable insights into request patterns and spotlights trends that allow hotels to streamline operations. For example, frequent visitors often have preferred rooms and special dietary needs. Access to these preferences enables staff to deliver more personalized, tailored booking experiences.

Intelligent assistants surface critical analytics from guest conversations, powering accurate demand forecasts. This includes mining historical occupancy data, seasonal travel trends and individual preferences. Structured conversational data is invaluable for optimizing staff levels, housekeeping schedules and employee training. With smarter planning powered by guest insights from voice assistants, hotels can reduce the need for additional staff. 

Faster Response Times

Fast responses are critical for five-star experiences and can determine if bookings are won or lost. Voice automation enables hotels to swiftly greet calls, tackle common questions and share room rates and vacancies. When a query requires connecting with a live team member, the assistant first collects vital guest details. With key information already gathered, agents can zero in on resolving the inquiry. This significantly cuts resolution time compared to manually collecting details before addressing needs. Guests experience quick, personalized handling without lengthy holds. 

Implementing next-gen voice AI can transform hotels' operations in the face of understaffing woes. At the same time, it elevates guest experiences to new heights. By applying voice AI to enable flexible, guest-directed interactions, voice assistants usher in reliable efficiency paired with personalization, and these consistently warm, polished engagements will meet what modern travelers expect. The future success of hospitality rests on embracing innovative digital solutions and meshing them with human care.

About the Author

Yan Zhang is a tech leader bringing revolutionary AI to the hospitality sector. As COO of PolyAI, he brings together business and AI leaders to deploy virtual assistants in large-scale enterprise applications. Recent deployments include restaurants, hotels, and casinos in the UK and US. Previous to PolyAI, Yan was a Sloan Fellow at London Business School and ran a series of successful startups.

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