Customer behaviour has changed in an unprecedented way following the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organisations have swiftly implemented chatbots to adapt to the sudden shift towards interacting with customers primarily, if not exclusively, through digital channels. The ultimate goal of a chatbot is to improve customer self-service, provide information, deliver continuous and cost-effective support, and delight customers with personalised experiences. Read on to learn more about chatbots and how they benefit hotels and their customers.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot system, also known as a human-machine interaction system, uses conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to simulate a natural language conversation with a user over messaging channels, website widgets, and mobile apps. It performs live chat operations in response to real-time user interactions using rule-based language applications.
How does a chatbot for a hotel work?
When a potential guest lands on a hotel website, the chatbot widget will pop up discreetly in the corner, making itself available to address any queries.
First, thebest hotel chatbotsgreet the guest and display the most popular topics and query categories. When the customer selects one of the options, they will be provided with helpful information addressing their request or signposted to the most relevant page on the website.
Customers also have a choice to ask their questions. A hotel chatbot interprets or understands such interactions and responds with the best answer. If it cannot resolve the query, it can be programmed to pass on the conversation to a human agent.
We can divide chatbots into two categories:
Rule-based chatbots for hotels
This chatbot is the most basic conversational tool that communicates using clear rules (“if/else” statements). If the answer to a question is ‘yes’, it presents some offers. If the answer is ‘no,’ it displays another topic. Some advanced chatbots of this type operate by detecting specific words and showing relevant messages before the user types the question based on the established rules.
AI-based chatbots for hotels
AI-powered chatbots are significantly more sophisticated. These chatbots, powered by Artificial Intelligence, can read communication, analyse it, and answer correctly, resulting in very realistic chat exchanges similar to those a user would have with a human customer care representative. Hotel chatbots enable significantly more personalisation and more natural interactions, especially when powered by AI specialised in the hospitality industry communications. Let’s look at them closely to see how they benefit hotels and their guests and their potential impact on hotel operations.
Advantages of having an AI-powered chatbot for hotels
Integrating a conversational virtual agent solution with the hotel’s booking system opens up many opportunities to address existing challenges in the industry and gain a competitive edge in the market. The advantages include both immediate quick wins and long-term positive effects on the business:
24/7 customer support: Customer service response time is highly challenging in the travel and hospitality industries. Chatbotscan provide constant and simultaneous service regardless of time and staff availability.
Increase in direct bookings: a higher volume of processed inquiries, especially when matched with a high standard of providing information by chatbots, leads to generating a more significant number of leads, and consequently an increase in revenue.
Streamlining omnichannel communication: keeping multiple communication channels open leads to more incoming conversations, but managing them all is challenging. Hotel chatbots can streamline and centralise communication from different platforms, providing a clear overview of processed conversations.
Removing language barriers: as the best hotel chatbots offer automatic translation services to over a hundred languages, it allows for better guest engagement and makes information more accessible.
Automation of common tasks: AI-powered chatbots can be integrated with a range of Booking Engines, PMS, and other systems used by the hotels, enabling automatic processing of many time-consuming tasks, such as check-ins, check-outs, or requesting room booking quotes. It relieves your staff from repetitive tasks and makes them available to deal with more complex queries.
Better upselling opportunities: best chatbots for hotels can employ AI to identify moments in the hotel guest journey with the highest conversion rate and match them with personalised, most relevant offers such as room upgrades and additional service bookings.
Improving customer satisfaction score: A conversational virtual agent assists hotel guests at every stage of their journey, helping hotels gather valuable customer feedback, and encouraging guests to leave positive reviews at the end of their stay.
Benefits of having an AI-powered chatbot for hotel guests
Hotel guests also greatly benefit from the implementation of AI communication technology in the hospitality industry:
Instant responses: customers do not need to wait for an available support agent as chatbots can assist with inquiries 24/7. With their questions answered immediately, customers are more likely to explore a hotel’s offer further and make a direct booking. Virtual concierges also assist the guests throughout their stay.
Communication through a platform of choice: chatbots allow customers to get in touch through the most popular social media platforms and instant messaging applications, such as Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, WhatsApp, WeChat, Google My Business, and more. Most efficient chatbots streamline this omnichannel communication into a single platform, making it easy for the hotel staff. to manage
Speaking in preferred language: chatbots can answer queries in virtually any language, making communication more comfortable for international guests who can receive information in the language of their choice.
Making bookings without human agents: customers can place orders and finalise transactions thanks to AI technology behind hotel chatbots. Guests can explore and decide on offers at their own pace anytime.
What are the impacts of AI-powered chatbots on hotel operations?
The essential hospitality service areas benefit from hotel chatbots and conversational virtual agents. Below are a few examples of such applications of AI technology in hotels:
Enhancing guest experience: hotel chatbotscan be programmed to ask various questions to improve guest stay, such as taking the room service orders of guests, booking additional services at the hotel, making restaurant reservations, or providing local recommendations.
Automating operations: a virtual concierge sends reminders to guests regarding their stay, check-in, and check-out times and can change them based on guest requests.
Reporting issues: if guests face any in-room matters, they can use the conversational virtual agent to report it to the hotel staff. AI technology can be used to then notify specific teams to fix the issue as soon as possible.
Processing guest requests: hotel chatbotscan automatically check on the guests to prompt any requests that can improve their stay, such as offering wake-up calls, do not disturb notifications and receiving extra towels or toiletries delivery.
Michael Beare, Director of Finn Lough, comments on how the hotel benefited from implementing an AI-powered chatbot: “Delivering instant responses to our guests while maintaining a personal and individual approach has been critical to step up our customer care. With HiJiffy’s personalisable chatbot, we are able to get closer to our guests and to improve our overall hospitality service.”
As outlined in this article, hotel chatbots using conversational AI can help solve challenges the hospitality industry is facing and open up new opportunities for hoteliers to improve the overall guest experience. Beyond the benefits discussed already, AI-powered communication tools can also identify trends and analyse guests’ preferences, empowering hotels to adjust their services accordingly and use that as a competitive advantage.
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