Hotels are now beginning to use chatbots to perform front desk tasks such as responding immediately to repetitive questions. This lets hoteliers to focus on more challenging duties that can be performed by humans only. But can a bot handle more complex tasks as well? We asked Shayne Paddock, the CIO, Guest Management Solutions at TravelClick to share his perspective on how chatbots can increase a hotel’s operational efficiency.
Read this article to learn:
✔ How hotels can leverage AI and chatbots
✔ Can bots handle complicated tasks?
✔ Is there a limit to what hotels can automate with chatbots?
Ali Naqvi: How can hotels leverage AI and chatbots?
Shayne: It can be very time consuming for staff to field general inquiries from guests. Leveraging AI and chatbots is about training bots to respond immediately to repetitive questions. By programming a chatbot to answer common questions, the hotelier can focus on more meaningful tasks.
One example is training a chatbot to refer to an FAQ and respond back to a guest. Guests are happier because they get an immediate response back from the bot as opposed to waiting online for a human to respond.
Ali Naqvi: Are there more complex tasks that hotels could benefit from training a bot to handle?
Shayne: Yes, bots can can also be trained to do more complicated tasks. They can respond to questions like ‘Can I have a room upgrade?’ and not just say, ‘Yes, someone can get back to you right away and see if it’s available.’
By connecting the chatbot with predictive analytics (to predict what the guest would like to be upsold to) and a connection to the reservation system, an upgrade can actually be completed by the bot. The bot can respond back to the guest with ‘Here’s one option. Yes or no?’ The hotel staff doesn’t have to do anything in this scenario.
A bot’s job is ultimately to determine the intent of the conversation. That’s where AI really comes in to play. ‘What is this guest asking me for?’ It also needs to be trained on thousands of messages because there are so many different ways to ask ‘What time is check in?’ Spelling mistakes and grammar issues need to be considered in programming.
”A bot's job is ultimately to determine the intent of the conversation.
Ali Naqvi: Is it true that a bot gets smarter every time somebody asks a question?
Shayne: Yes, that’s the whole idea behind machine learning and a lot of machine learning is done with humans classifying. Machines learns based on how humans classify.
Ali Naqvi: Is there a limit to what hotels can automate with chatbots?
Shayne: The beauty of chatbots is that they free up hoteliers’ time so they can give more attention to facilitating unique or detailed requests, like ‘Can you get me Broad-way tickets for the 7:00 show tonight?’ That’s more challenging to facilitate because it actually requires making a few phone calls. It’s old school concierge work. Its hospitality and hospitality is still a human-driven business.
”The beauty of chatbots is that they free up hoteliers' time so they can give more attention to facilitating unique or detailed requests.
Ali Naqvi: Do you think that the hotel industry is ready to embrace AI?
Shayne: Hoteliers need to embrace AI and can’t afford to be afraid of using chatbots. They tend to worry about what happens if the bot makes a mistake and totally messes up a guest experience. But they shouldn’t necessarily discount the low percentage of error for the improved guest experience.
Ali Naqvi: Do you have any final thoughts or advice for hotels or hotel that are considering using AI and chatbots?
Shayne: Think about automating things that you already do at your hotel and how you can use AI and chatbots to drive revenue and conversions. Maybe a booking agent that pops up on your site and makes room recommendations.
While you do want to automate mundane tasks, you don’t want to completely remove the human interaction from the hotel experience. There can be a downside to overly automating or removing people from the equation too much. What it really comes down to is using the right intelligence everywhere within your hotel for better guest experience and engagement.
Shayne Paddock is the Chief Innovation Officer for the TravelClick’s Guest Management Solutions product. He is responsible for the overall data architecture and product management of TravelClick’s suite of CRM and Hotel Marketing Automation tools. Shayne has over 20 years of experience in the areas of email marketing, loyalty management, guest surveys, hospitality systems integration, data warehousing, and analytic reporting platforms. Prior to working in hospitality he worked with the search engine Excite.com as well as several other dot com startups all revolving around database marketing. In his downtime Shayne prefers to be lost on a mountain or exploring remote areas of Africa with no access to WiFi.