Time and again, technology is constantly advancing towards automation of interaction with the environment around us. They say Chatbots are the future, and we say that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is what brings human interactions and perfection together.
When it comes to the hospitality industry, many entrepreneurs and organisations are adopting or looking towards in-house apps, instant messaging and even robots. While still in its infancy, chatbots could be extremely helpful and may be a game-changing option to serve several purposes — from booking rooms to concierge services to sight-seeing trips and many more. So how exactly could chatbots change the hotel industry?
1. Now reserve on chat
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are good for business, but hotels are wary of becoming too dependent on them — they’d much rather have travelers coming directly to them and not have to pay the commission. Chatbots provide a platform for travelers to book directly through the instant messaging apps already available on their mobile phones like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Skype with the added assurance of having any questions answered.
2. Enriching the pre-arrival experience
“Booking additional services is where the power is,” says Nigel Symonds, Hospitality Consultant at Avenue9, a leading player in the IT sector that provides hospitality solutions.
Much of the staff’s precious time and manpower is consumed in following up with the guest’s arrival and suggesting amenities like on-site car rental, spa and salon treatments, making arrangements for special occasions — be it via calls or even automated emails. Wouldn’t you rather invest that valuable time elsewhere?
Here is where you can give way to automation in your hotel business. Let chatbots take care of sending automated offers and deals and perform follow ups with your customers. What’s more — guests can now check-in to their hotel room prior to their arrival at the hotel with a small chat on their bot-equipped smartphone.
3. On-resort interaction
As we are moving one step closer to enhancing the guest experience, let us go the extra mile to make it absolutely exceptional for them.
To serve your guests even better, chatbots can also be programmed to provide concierge services. If your guest wants to place an international call, send an email, or needs to be woken up in the morning for an appointment, the device which is by their side at all times should be able to help them with that. Chatbots can accomplish this and more, only if you allow them to.
By doing so, you would not only be making things easier for your staff since there need not be someone by the reception phone at all times, but also cutting down on the time that the guest would invest in finding the right number to call on. Gone are the days when the guests fumble with a placard by the phone trying to figure out whether to call the housekeeping number, front desk or reception to attend to their needs. Let them request for anything — from a towel to flowers or champagne to food- brought directly to their room.
4. Free up Hotel Staff
From an operational point of view, staffs are freed up by not having to attend every call and request if the same can be taken care of by a chatbot. The Chatbot conveys the message to your staff in a jiffy, thereby making things easier for them especially during peak hours.
By offering instant responses and a natural form of communication, chatbots will help hotels elevate the guest experience to a whole new level. It’s unlikely that chatbots will entirely replace the need for human conversation, because guests will always want a person to deal with complaints and extra special requests. But even in that case, bots will know when they should transfer the conversation to a human agent. After receiving the request from the guest, your staff will immediately be prompted about the same on their system. They can quickly go and deliver the service to the guest without much hassle — a win-win for both!
5. Leveraging Data using Guest Profiling
You must have obviously worked hard and put great efforts to please your guest. You want them coming back for more. How do you make sure that you have earned a loyal customer?
A PMS-integrated bot that interacts with guests at all stages of the customer journey can gather valuable data, which can then be used by algorithms and hotel staff alike to provide personalized services. Unlike localized human interactions, entire chatbot conversations and outcomes can be stored and recalled for relevant future exchanges.
The bot will not only store your guest’s personal data like name, address, age, date of birth etc., but will also save their preferences like their favorite dish, cuisine, type of room and the likes. It will also give you an idea of their budget and expenditure which will help you serve them better the next time by accommodating more services in the same budget.
6. Reduced dependency on OTAs
As a hotelier, you must have tied up with several Online Travel Agencies (OTA) to reach out to a larger audience in order to provide travel and room bookings. By tieing up with them, you also end up paying them a commission fee and lose out on your revenue that otherwise would have been yours.
While they do fulfill the purpose of booking rooms, OTAs do not share much information about the customer with you. Potential customers enter their personal information such as name, email address and phone numbers on the travel websites,which could inevitably be very essential for you to build and sustain a relationship with your valuable customers.
After acquiring this information, it is essential to sustain and grow this relationship with your customer. Your guests can choose to share their experience in your hotel in the form of reviews, testimonials and ratings; where else-but on the very same platform where they first engaged with you. That’s right! Through your Chatbot.
Sounds like a lot of good things, but a lot of hard work too? Rest assured that chatbots will be your savior once you involve them into your businesses.