The new outsourcing

Bots can elevate and personalize guest service by combining a human touch with emerging technologies.

"The new canvas is conversation. Human language is the new user interface, bots are the new apps, and digital assistants are meta apps,” said Stuart Greif, senior executive, travel/ hospitality, OSR & transportation industry solutions, Microsoft, at the EyeforTravel North America summit held in Las Vegas in October. The evolution of technology in the hospitality industry is happening at lightning speed. How are you keeping up?

Chatbots are helping customers have a better experience in hotels. Marriott International is expanding upon the heart of its hospitality by creating additional points of engagement for guests, powered by artificial intelligence. Aloft Hotels launched the first ChatBotlr, a new chatbot available via text message that gives guests an additional way to make service requests. Aloft’s ChatBotlr empowers guests to request basic hotel services right from their own smartphones.

Aloft introduced the first generation Botlr, a robotic butler, in 2014 as an inventive pilot program to allow front desk associates to respond more immediately to guest needs, one-on-one. This next evolution of Botlr, the ChatBotlr, is available to all guests on their phones, anywhere and anytime they have a request. With ChatBotlr, guests may text to request services, information about the hotel, and connect with the front desk team during their stay, even when the guest is not on-property. By leveraging natural language understanding and machine learning, ChatBotlr gets smarter the more it interacts with guests. Early findings show that two out of three Aloft guests are interacting or making requests with ChatBotlr, and the service has a five-second response time.

“By embracing emerging messaging technologies, we can expand service to our guests on their terms and through communication channels they increasingly prefer and feel comfortable using,” said Stephanie Linnartz, global chief commercial officer, Marriott International in a press briefing. “The delivery of on demand service enables Marriott to simplify travel, remove friction, and power up even better service for our guests at more moments throughout their travel journey.”

Messaging is growing in popularity, with people in the U.S. spending an average of 200 minutes per day in messaging apps according to The Economist, and recent reports show messaging apps as the number one most frequently used feature on mobile devices.

Hyatt has also been a pioneer of sorts when it comes to chatbots. It was the first hotel chain group to use Messenger for customer service to converse with the guests in a private context. The Facebook Messenger blog says, “The Hyatt experience on Messenger is designed to connect travelers on their terms, when they want. With Messenger, customers can chat with Hyatt before, after, or during their stay for any customer service requests. Guests can engage with real people in seconds, 24/7. Since Hyatt launched on Messenger, monthly inbound Messenger volume has grown 11x.”

Marriott recognized the growing popularity of text messaging in 2015, when it launched the Mobile Requests feature on the Marriott Mobile app, enabling guests to chat directly with hotel associates. Since then, 2.5 million requests have been received, with more than half coming before guests checked in.

The potential of chatbots is only just beginning to be explored in the hospitality industry. It remains to be seen how many ways hoteliers can cash in on this technology.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.).

Source: Chatbots Magazine

Reported By Dhwani Pathak Dave