Hoteliers fear a future where their properties are run by robots, but believe that artificial intelligence (AI) could be key to delivering a highly-personalised guest experience.
This was an example of the findings from a white paper by SiteMinder and IDeaS Revenue Solutions, which was brought to light at a thought leader breakfast held during World Travel Market London in November, and during a December webinar, where leading hoteliers conceded that although robots could never replace genuine hospitality, they can decipher big data to learn about guests faster than humans.
Monica Or, consultant at Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy and the facilitator of both events, says one reason for the sentiment is the recognition that hotel guest preferences have become more sophisticated over the last 25 years with the growing accessibility of digital technology.
“Hoteliers desperately need to get on board with the technological advances that we all, as consumers, are seeing and experiencing on the day-to-day. Guests today are more tech savvy, so what they have in their homes they now expect in the hotels where they stay,” says Or.
Hoteliers suggested AI could best enhance the guest experience through tailored pricing during the booking process, voice and face recognition upon arrival, and 24/7 customer service during the guests’ stay. According to participants of the study, the future of hospitality should be one that combines technology with a human touch to create an enjoyable but authentic experience.
The unexpected challenge found was that many hoteliers continued to overlook the fundamental importance of integrating their systems to gain the insight they needed into their guest data.
“Hotels have a wealth of guest intelligence at their disposal. They have the opportunity to understand and analyse every point of the guest experience—and to make more innovative, more informed decisions—but they need information to flow seamlessly through their systems in order to make it work,” says Ruairi Conroy, managing director – EMEA at SiteMinder.
“There is clearly an identifiable trend within the hospitality sector of leveraging technology to maximise both performance and the guest experience,” says Fabian Specht, EMEA managing director at IDeaS.
“While inevitably there will be IT challenges to be addressed, AI will play an ever-increasing role in delivering bespoke services to guests—just as it does in other consumer-facing industries.”