This year has been particularly hard on the hospitality sector. It has produced unforeseen challenges to hotels, bars & restaurants in the way of logistics and safety regulation. Hotels in particular are being forced to evolve while trying to keep the same level of customer service. This has given light to some really innovative uses of technology to overcome these challenges, the most notable being the use of AI-driven conversational interfaces.
The hospitality industry will need to reinvent itself in a post-Covid world. This presents a world of opportunities, prompting a revolution in the standard ways in which this industry operates. Conversational interfaces are one such technology, looking to completely change the way in which guests interact with their hotels, bars and favourite food spots.
In this article, we will dive into what these interfaces are, the technology behind them, how they can be integrated into this industry, and what benefits they can bring for businesses & customers.
What are conversational interfaces?
A conversational interface is an AI-driven interface that emulates a human conversation through natural language and dialects. These are mostly integrated with commonly used messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, and with voice-controlled interfaces like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Echo. These interfaces are fully customizable and can be tailored to your clientele, with functionality, language and other considerations such as specific requirements implemented by the specific venue. These interfaces are fully customisable and tailored specifically to a business’ needs.
How can they be integrated into Hospitality?
These interfaces can achieve a variety of results depending on the establishment, having said this, the range of functionality and integration these interfaces provide, means there is no lack of options;
- Automate the guests experience; automated check-in, key cutting and check out
- Voice-controlled rooms; air-con, room service, blinds, lights, mini bar stock levels or turning the hot tub on when you enter the room 😉
- Activity & entertainment; booking bikes, sightseeing, taxis, looking for local restaurants
- Enhanced, futuristic experience for the customer, not found in other hotels
- Customer service; 24 hours a day – solves most issues. Will learn on the job and with regular use, will learn how to effectively and efficiently deal with customer queries with the option to talk to a human staff member always available (who doesn’t necessarily need to be on the premises)
An establishment can choose one or all of these possible integrations. Each element improves over time through AI and machine learning algorithms, consistently producing better and more accurate results.
The benefits of using Conversational Interfaces
There are many advantages to using conversational interfaces, each having more weight than others depending on the establishment. One advantage that has become particularly relevant in this last year is the need to automate certain parts of a customer’s experience, in order to reduce human contact, staff hours, and extra regulation implemented due to the pandemic.
This is one of many benefits that can occur through conversational interface integration, but there are many more:
- Lower staff costs: Conversational interfaces can replace a huge amount of staff hours, through efficiently programming some of the most regular processes into it, such as checking-in, key cutting & checking out
- Seamless check-in and check-out; this process becomes fully automated
- Automation of menial tasks – such as reminders of check out time, delivery of information regarding stay, etc
“Conversational interfaces are the future of hotels in a post-Covid world”
- Users have control over their own room through IoT (Internet of Things) technology such as blinds, lights, air-con, tv, fridge; all controlled by the user through their conversational interface.
- Customer service: 24-hour point of customer service for visitors; most issues can be dealt with without human intervention, but the option is always there
- Tour guide: If your customer is looking to book a local restaurant, visit an art gallery, or book a bicycle, all of this can be done through the same conversational interface
Conversational Interfaces for hotels in action
Our trial case – student hotel
The Student Hotel is a new concept in hybrid hospitality. They have locations in 14 cities in Europe, providing accommodation, food, entertainment & co-working space. We have currently been trialling the integration of conversational interfaces into their service model, automating tasks and providing customers with a futuristic & efficient high-quality service.
Check out this short video to see how conversational interfaces are integrated within hospitality:
Mr Lewis is a hotel group consisting of boutique hotels and bungalow parks throughout the Netherlands. They have opened two new hotels in Haarlem and Rotterdam.
The hotels will provide a fully automated service, from booking to check-in, from breakfast to dinner and all entertainment and other queries to be seamlessly automated through a conversational interface. In this case, Mr Lewis is using WhatsApp as its interface. This interface is compatible with PMS’s (property management systems), in this case, MEWS. The compatibility with such PMS’s means the experience is streamlined, from booking to check out.
Customers will be able to interact with everything this hotel has to offer through instant messaging and voice control, and without the need for human staff to be present on the premises; this is the future of hotels in a post-Covid world.
Conversational interfaces have a lot to offer the hospitality industry, whether it’s streamlining common procedures like guest check-ins, or providing knowledge of local services & entertainment to its guests through conversations with AI-driven technology, the opportunities this technology brings for the hospitality industry are endless.
With Vidar’s broad experience with design and usability, he is responsible for strategising the use of digital design within Studio Vi.