Artificial intelligence for hotels isn’t a distant dream of the future. In fact, it’s a reality for many leading brands today. Artificial intelligence, also known as AI, in hotels includes everything from robotic servers to intelligent computer systems. And according to Hotel Technology News, using artificial intelligence for hotels is “not just a matter of gaining a competitive advantage; it’s imperative in order to stay in business.” In this guide, we take a look at what is currently on-trend, on the market, and on the minds of innovative hotel managers with ideas and answers to your most important AI hotel questions.
How is artificial intelligence used in the hotel industry?
Artificial intelligence is used in the hotel industry for revenue management, guest experience, and the automation of daily operations. To use AI in hotels, managers must consider where their investment will make the greatest impact based on their available budget, guest feedback, and plans for future growth as new technologies are coming to the market almost every day.
Explore 9 examples of artificial intelligence for hotels:
Did you know that “94% (of C-level executives) reported that artificial intelligence would ‘substantially transform’ their companies within five years, most believing the transformation would occur by 2020”? Their predictions were correct. Today, most hotels use AI-powered websites, booking tools, or other software.
However, 49% of survey respondents say that the hotel industry ranks right in the middle at a grade of “C” for artificial intelligence implementation. The good news is that there is a lot of room to grow in this category.
1. Offer AI concierges
Hotels such as the Radisson Blu Edwardian in London and Manchester use artificial intelligence concierges to check guests in or out, order room service, and answer questions 24/7. The best part? Guests can text Edward (their concierge) right from their phones. Consider chatbots for your hotel if you’d like to create consistent guest experiences and free up time for front desk staff to provide the best possible service for guests who are physically present.
2. Switch to hyperdynamic pricing
Hyperdynamic pricing allows booking engines to automatically search social media, past user data, and even world news to display rates that maximise earning potential. For example, if there is a large conference filling up hotels nearby, the artificially intelligent software will instantly adjust prices to reflect the increase in demand.
Aviation industry expert and travel consultant Matthew Klint, who notes that this software is already quite common among airlines, says “on the horizon are systems that can decipher so-called ‘unstructured data’ that includes scanning hotel reviews for consumer sentiment or pinpointing seat assignments or particular hotel rooms based upon Instagram photos.” In other words, this technology will get better and better over time, so keep a close eye on it.
3. Predict utilities usage
Improve revenue management and help save the environment with energy, water, and waste-monitoring tools. Hotels such as Hilton have been using them for a decade, with no sign of going back. According to the recent celebration of their own sustainability and social impact efforts: “Hilton properties have reduced carbon emissions equivalent to removing 390,350 cars from the road ... while saving over $1 billion in utility costs” all through their proprietary LightStay program. In other words, brands that develop or adopt programs like this can expect to reap savings and sustainability rewards from them long term.
4. Adopt group booking software
Cvent Passkey for Hoteliers uses smart technology to maximise the sales potential of existing business, improve the booking experience, and seamlessly organise all related departments. Portola Hotel & Spa Revenue Manager Colette Barss says that "since enabling Passkey ARI we have seen significant room revenue growth with our guests extending their stays. Planners appreciate being able to keep links open longer, and guests like the ease of booking."
All of the available tools add up to create a powerful booking engine but, at the end of the day, it all supports the same goal. As Barss says, “It’s simple — we want to fill out blocks.” To do that, hoteliers need a group booking software that helps them work better and smarter.
5. Make reviews actionable
Get to know your customers through the feedback they leave on major hotel review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. But instead of always going through the process manually, use an intelligent tool to do it for you. Machine learning (a subset of AI) makes it easy to automatically collect, store, and analyse data from across a variety of online sources.
This is why luxury hotel brand Dorchester Collections uses it to personalise guest experiences from booking to dining. In one instance, they were able to identify “that guests were far more interested in breakfast than dinner as a meal, to which hotels tend to focus their investments on in order to differentiate themselves by offering a fine dining experience." The result? An updated breakfast menu that guests could personalise themselves.
"It turned out (the machine learning software) was right,” says Dorchester Collection's Ana Brant. “Dorchester kitchens reported that somewhere between 80 and 90% of breakfast orders are modified. So today, when you sit down to breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel (which has 1,019 reviews on TripAdvisor, 298 on Booking.com, 235 on Yelp, and 294 on Expedia), a waiter comes up to you and asks what you want — they've got everything. No menu."
6. Use chatbot translators
Chatbot translators can quickly identify languages used by website visitors based on their location. They can also translate scripts on the fly and manage simultaneous guest inquiries from all over the world. Tools such as Bebot go a step further and enhance guest experience through automated guest review collection, onsite restaurant renovations, and booking confirmations.
Although the hospitality industry is no stranger to chatbots, their importance will only continue to increase. As The New York Times reports, a chatbot “offers travellers updated information about coronavirus outbreaks, statistics and symptoms.” Thanks to AI, guests will increasingly view chatbots as travel assistants rather than obstacles between them and a live representative.
7. Feature smart event diagramming
Artificial intelligence for hotels comes in many different forms. "Wow" event planners with products such as Cvent Event Diagramming — an intuitive tool used to create 3D diagrams of event spaces. Templatize layouts from past events, host virtual walkthroughs, and collaborate with multiple teams at once all in one place.
8. Have robots check-in guests
Hilton and IBM teamed up to create Connie (named after Conrad Hilton), the first in-person customer service robot for hotels. The AI model can learn from guests and adapt over time while answering questions, fulfilling simple booking tasks, and improving its own speech over time.
“We’re focused on reimagining the entire travel experience to make it smarter, easier and more enjoyable for guests,” said Hilton's Jonathan Wilson. “By tapping into innovative partners like IBM Watson (the AI software powering the robot), we’re 'wowing' our guests in the most unpredictable ways.”
Don’t worry about replacing your human front desk staff — tools like Connie are meant to prevent long queues from forming in lobbies, create memorable experiences, and help teams perform better.
9. Make hiring smarter
Hospitality recruiters are using machine learning to hire hotel employees in ways that go beyond the outdated resume model. Using personality profiles of existing team members and gamification-based tests, IHG and other top hotel brands have recruited thousands of employees.
Following this method allows recruiters to go beyond what’s on the page to discover the candidates who are the best fit on every level. Hazel Hogben, Head of HR, Hotel Operations, IHG Europe, says that “it has also helped in eliminating personal or preconceived bias among recruiters”.
Coming soon: The next five years of artificial intelligence for hotels
Keep an eye out for the tools, gadgets, and platforms that aren’t available now but are set to create a noticeable impact on the industry. Start looking for brands or companies you like and forecast your upcoming budgets accordingly.
- Look out for passports with guest health information built in so medical professionals on or offsite can quickly access information such as their medical history, current medications, and allergies in an emergency.
- Stay tuned for star ratings for hotel guests so properties can see information about their past stays.
- Look forward to robots as support staff to help ease the burden of late-night shifts and the effects of a high turnover industry.
Does AI work with or replace hotel staff?
While AI robot concierges, room service delivery, and cleaning machines have the potential to replace 25% of today’s hospitality workforce, experiments such as Henn na Hotel in Japan (which employed a 100% AI staff of 243 robots) have largely failed. That means that completely replacing hotel staff with AI counterparts is unlikely. But there may well be a significant increase in robotic support over the coming years.
Will artificial intelligence change hotel stays?
Oracle’s market research has discovered that “AI is already changing the guest experience across the travel lifecycle, including the on-property experience." Hotels can expect to see more tools that streamline check-in, monitor and adjust in-room technology, and personalise stays in the near future.
Now you know more about artificial intelligence for hotels!
Up next, check out our guide on how to go above and beyond to impress hotel guests — both using smart technology and more traditional avenues.