What is a hotel chatbot?

What is a hotel chatbot
February 18, 2022

Let’s start with some numbers. Hoteliers can easily automate +80% of guests’ interactions by implementing the right chatbot solution, increasing efficiency while boosting their revenue through increased direct bookings and upselling opportunities.

According to a study developed by Salesforce, if given a choice between filling out a website form or answering a chatbot, only 14% of the guests prefer the form.

We can also point out another study by Deloitte stating that chatbots can save businesses +8 billion dollars in 2022.

With these figures in mind and given the various questions around chatbots, let’s understand why implementing this solution should be on the top of hoteliers’ agenda.

What is a hotel chatbot?

A hotel chatbot is a conversational software specially developed for the hospitality industry that is designed to simulate a conversation with a human user, enabling hotels to communicate with their guests instantaneously and in a personalised way without compromising automation.

Do all hotel chatbots work in the same way?

No, definitely not. There are two main types of chatbots – rule-based and AI-based chatbots – that work in entirely different ways.

  • Rule-Based Chatbots

A rule-based chatbot is built on a principle of a structured flow, usually portrayed as a decision tree. The chatbot will identify keywords to understand the guests’ queries and, based on those keywords, will ask follow-up questions to come up with the correct solution. 

This tree structure and answers are predefined, which gives more control over the conversation flow than an AI-based chatbot. On the other hand, it provides less flexibility in the interaction, making it more unnatural and restrictive.

  • AI-based Chatbots

AI-based chatbots are powered by NLP (Natural Language Processing), meaning they can interpret the human language to understand the guests’ intent.

The great thing about AI technology is its constant learning process. The chatbot can learn from its own mistakes, so the more it interacts with guests, the better it understands their intent and improves its response.

Note: There are also hybrid chatbots, solutions that combine characteristics of both types.

Conversational apps: the next step of Chatbots provided by HiJiffy

Conversational apps are the next step in the evolution of the traditional NLP or rule-based chatbots as they free the traditional booking assistants from the restrictions of text-based interactions.

HiJiffy enriches interactions with visual UI elements (e.g., buttons; calendars; maps; carousels; images; and more), helping with interactive elements when the conversation isn’t the most effective choice. Everything is done without giving up on providing a one-on-one experience. 

Integrating HiJiffy’s interactive conversational app with Property Management Systems (PMS), Booking Engines, CRM and/or Maintenance/Housekeeping software, makes it the perfect addition to an automated workflow. For this reason, turning a chatbot into a conversational app can improve user experience and significantly impact the customer journey, including the direct bookings conversion rates. 

Another critical aspect of HiJiffy’s conversational app is its omnichannel flexibility. The solution can perform on any messaging channel: in the hotel’s website, inside an app, or a third-party messaging platform like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Google My Business, and many, many others.

Using the combination of text-based conversation and rich graphic elements, HiJiffy is reshaping how hotels – chains or independents – communicate with their guests.

What are the most common formats for website chatbots?

There are four main website chatbot formats: Widget, Landing Page, Pop-Up and Website Embed.

  • Widget

Widgets are probably the most popular and widely spread chatbot format. Usually having the shape of a bubble with a chat icon on the bottom right corner of a website, they can be static and start interacting with the user only after clicking on the widget, or dynamic, if the chatbot begins the conversation with a first pop-up message.

  • Landing Page

The chatbot can also act as a standalone landing page, which means the chatbot takes up the entire page. This type of chatbot format can be especially useful in marketing as it removes all distractions, allowing users to focus on the conversation. In this format, conversion rates can increase up to four times.

  • Pop-Up

Pop-up formats are less common in the hospitality industry, but still powerful if applied to the proper use cases, namely promotions or sign-up messages. Like the classic form pop-up/banner, it can be launched using three approaches: a) clicking a button, b) time on the page, c) scrolling to a section.

Unlike buttons or online forms, pop-up hotel chatbots start a conversation directly, creating a more interactive experience. 

  • Website Embed

These allow embedding the chatbot in any part of the website seamlessly, providing an elegant solution when combining classic UI with a conversational experience.

Unique elements of HiJiffy’s conversational app 

Customers are more demanding than ever. They expect instantaneous responses and personalized engagement and attention across channels – before and after the purchase.

HiJiffy’s solution can deliver speed and personalization using the most popular and convenient messaging interface. Messaging, whether it takes place on the web or an app, is inherently personal, informal and instantaneous. 

Consequently, by using HiJiffy conversational app across the entire hotel customer journey, hoteliers can adopt a warm and friendly way of communication without sounding forced and out of place and providing fast support to their guests.

By providing customers with what they need without skyrocketing labour costs and putting a strain on resources, HiJiffy’s solution can help unlock a new level of customer service that can keep up with the growing expectations of the client base. 

HiJiffy’s conversational app speeds up the time it takes to complete specific flows, thus increasing the chances of conversion by combining text-based messaging with graphic elements.

Here are some of the essential elements that make our solution so powerful:

  • Buttons

Buttons are one of the most common graphic elements in our conversational app. They help structure the conversational UI and guide the user to specific options quicker. Using buttons also saves the time users would have to spend typing.

  • Buttons combined with images

Or, combine the button with an image for a more visually appealing experience:

  • Carousels

Another popular element in a conversational app is the carousel. Carousels are incredibly versatile and showcase choices in circulating images with text descriptions and buttons. They can be used in several ways but are particularly great for product promotion.

  • CSAT

These elements are beneficial when we need to collect customer feedback to support hotel reputation management. It is done quickly and easily for the customer and has the structure of a classic survey. Read about the importance of the CSAT score in hospitality.

  • Calendar

The calendar is an essential element in the conversational app as it makes the booking process significantly easier. Showing the calendar element helps show the weekdays and weekends and which days are available without dragging on the conversation. Ultimately it ensures the user submits the date in the correct format.

Is the setup of a hotel chatbot a complicated process?

Since answers can be populated with data from a pre-settled knowledge base, the setup process of a hotel chatbot can be significantly reduced by having the technology already pre-trained with typical problems that most hotels face. This factor is known as “network effects”.

Every time HiJiffy’s chatbot learns how to answer a new request after interacting with a guest of a particular hotel, the improved ability and knowledge become available to all HiJiffy clients using the technology. 

Basically, “network effects” means that the chatbot becomes smarter the more it’s being used, as additional information is added.

HiJiffy has been working with +1.600 hotels, answering millions of queries every year, which means the chatbot is already super developed and capable of understanding an impressive number of different requests, making the implementation smooth and straightforward for all hoteliers.

In sum…

A hotel chatbot can be a compelling solution as it allows: to answer automatically to +80% of guests’ requests, centralize all communications channels in one place, increase direct bookings, boost upselling opportunities and enable contactless experiences (e.g., digital check-in for hotels). 

Many other reasons could be added to the list, making chatbots a mandatory solution on the top of the agenda of every hotelier in 2022!

Co-Founder & CEO

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