So many people are clamoring about AI – or artificial intelligence – but do you really have a firm grasp on how hoteliers are using it to enhance the guest experience?
Odds are, probably not, which is exactly why we commissioned Starfleet Research to conduct a major study exploring AI’s usage and benefits in the hotel business.
Rather than discuss nebulous, theoretical aspects of AI, the report – “How Artificial Intelligence Enhances the Guest Experience” – provides empirical evidence to help place AI’s current use in context, quantify real benefits and gauge hoteliers’ interest and commitment in the technology’s development.
Among the findings:
A field of computer science, artificial intelligence is the pursuit of developing computers that can simulate human intelligence – specifically, learning, reasoning and self-correction. AI technology varies greatly in sophistication – from automation and reactive machines that can analyze options and select optimal ones, to limited-memory devices (as found in autonomous vehicles), which can use past experiences to shape future decisions.
But the recent surge in AI research coincides with the advent of big data. AI’s ability to identify patterns and glean insights from data – now available faster and in greater quantity and variety – yields advantages to almost any industry. According to the Starfleet Research report, some observers say hoteliers have been somewhat slow to embrace AI, but no more.
The use of robotic butlers, concierges and luggage handlers have garnered considerable media attention, but such manifestations of AI mostly have promoted their novelty. Thus far, the real value for hotels comes in the form of mobile and voice-activated assistants that offer guests an easy and intuitive way to interact with them.
What hoteliers find most alluring about AI, however, is what comes next. According to the report, “Artificial intelligence improves in performance with the addition of increasingly large volumes of data and increasingly sophisticated algorithms. It improves as it learns more and more about guests’ wants, needs and preferences, continuously augmenting its knowledge base… that enable it to progressively improve the quality of its responses and predictive capabilities.”
As the report’s findings show, AI-powered response technology is generating time savings, costs savings and enhancing guest relationships. But as AI solutions become “smarter,” they can anticipate and predict guest behavior, offering a level of personalized service that is unimaginable today. For example, “artificial intelligence can automatically set up a guest room with a level of precision that would elude human efforts” and “customize services and activities and calculate the optimal time to send invitations,” according to the report.
Adopting a powerful technology such as AI also requires significant employee education and an internal culture change. The report emphasizes the importance of incorporating AI into an overall business strategy to realize its full potential for guests, employees and the organization as a whole.