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Two Reasons Why Hotels Should Embrace Chatbot Tech

Believe it or not, your next brand interaction will likely not be with a human – in fact, research shows that 85% of our communications will be managed without a live person by 2020. Innovative technologies like artificial intelligence will allow quicker and more seamless conversations between brands and their customers, coming at a much lower cost than the traditional call center channel.
As these technologies continue to advance, new methods of communications will mean big changes, not only when it comes to brands connecting with current and prospective customers, but also their own employees. For the hospitality industry, specifically, AI-driven chatbots are set to revolutionize how hotels conduct business – redefining how they aid customers in the researching, planning and booking phases of travel, as well as the resources they offer to employees for onboarding and training purposes. While the chatbot trend is just starting to take off in this sector, hotels need to start thinking about how they can effectively implement the technology into their processes now. This article from Nanorep discusses different ways chatbots will integrate into hoteliers' day-to-day operations.
Improving the customer experience with smarter support
Today’s consumers are constantly looking for new places to see – this mindset has plagued the hospitality industry with low customer loyalty. But chatbots can reverse this industry dynamic with personalized support that builds life-long customers.
Leveraging innovative technologies such as AI and natural language processing, chatbots are equipped with the capabilities to understand situational context and customer intent, allowing them to get to the root of a customer issue and effectively offer tailored support. For a customer who is looking at their options for a booking on Independence Day weekend, they might ask the chatbot “How much is a suite with two beds on July 3rd?” and follow-up with, “What about one bed?” A smart chatbot can apply the background from the first question to the second and share pricing on a one-bed suite for July 3rd, without forcing the customer to repeat information – therefore avoiding potential customer frustration.
Taking personalization a step further, smart virtual customer assistants are capable of digging into an individual customer’s history and tailoring the experience based on past needs and preferences. Take, for example, a customer who consistently stays in one hotel when traveling for business. During the customer’s last several stays, they requested a specific meal be at their door upon arrival. The chatbot can recognize this detail and the next time the customer schedules their stay at that specific location, it will prompt the customer to easily schedule the meal through its interface.
Providing smarter resources for hotel employees
While the chatbot trend is mostly used today to provide smarter support for customers, this technology can also be a smart internal resource for employees. Specifically, hotels can leverage chatbots’ in-depth knowledge bases as an onboarding and training resource for internal customer service teams. If a new employee is starting out, rather than spend the first month shadowing an experienced worker, the trainee can ask the chatbot specific questions regarding both the job itself (i.e. how many hours of vacation time they have) as well as more complex customer-support questions (i.e. details on check-in and check-out processes). This helps them to efficiently get themselves up-to-speed and build an understanding of the most important aspects of the job.
Not only does this result in cost-savings for the hotel due to lower training costs and higher employee productivity, but it also means higher engagement among all employees who can use this technology as an ongoing resource, allowing them to find quick answers in a centralized location.
The future of chatbots in hospitality
Hotels need to prepare for the chatbot revolution now. Looking down the line, virtual assistants will not only become a dominant tool in the hospitality industry to augment human-assisted channels, but they will continue to quickly permeate every other vertical that touches it, including the wider travel sector. The next stage of this technology will be seamless integration – where every chatbot a customer interacts with will have the ability to connect with each other and offer an entirely fluid experience. For hotels that do not incorporate chatbots into their strategy soon, it could be the make-or-break factor in whether a customer gives their business to a brand.
To get ahead of the curve and be part of this upcoming industry shift – to the benefit of both their customers and employees – hotels need to begin considering how virtual assistant technology fits within their business strategy today.
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