Much of the discussion that’s come up around AI lately has centered around people’s fear of machines taking over their jobs or becoming much smarter than humans, and how those things might affect the economy. However, these visions of the future are more about General Artificial Intelligence and not Narrow Artificial Intelligence, which is focused on solving specific tasks, such as recommending songs that you might like. It is this area where most of the development has occurred and where hotels stand to benefit.

How does AI work?

AI differs from traditional programming in that it centres around machine learning. Where before we had to know the information in order to make inputs, AI allows machines to continuously develop and improve knowledge across vast and varied data sets. The ability to create feedback loops that allow the systems to improve on their own is central to AI.

Most people are already comfortable with computers attempting to predict their behaviour. (Who doesn’t appreciate Netflix’s movie suggestions, and who hasn’t noticed the tailored ads in their Gmail?)

In the case of hotels, data can be collected across each stage from planning through to booking and throughout the guest’s stay, to provide personalised recommendations to improve their experiences.

Machines that guests can interact with

Speaker systems like Amazon Echo have skills, the way smartphones have apps, and the number of skills they have keeps expanding. Some of the most practical skills people use include skills to pay bills, manage to-do lists, control lights and music, order Ubers, make food and wine suggestions, and plan travel.

Hotels could potentially use systems like Amazon Echo to create skills aimed at specific guests, depending on the information they have about them. The speaker could inform the guest of these skills when they arrive in their room, much like how a butler might inform a guest of the personal services they offer. From restaurant bookings, to suggesting cultural events, to setting room temperature and lighting, AI allows the hotel to perform actions that are informed and specific to the individual guest.

The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas announced at the end of 2016 that it is working on installing Amazon Echo into each of its 4,748 rooms and plans to become “the first resort in the world in which guests can verbally control every aspect of lighting, temperature and the audio-visual components.” While these speaker devices themselves are not overly cost-prohibitive, they do require reliable Wi-Fi networks – a feature that many hotels are still catching up on.

Integrations with platforms

Using guest data points, Artificial Intelligence can help predict the services and activities that will be of interest to guests, and determine the best time to send notifications – either through email, direct messaging, or a mobile app.

Facebook Messenger has incorporated bots to allow businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences.

InterContinental developed a bot for Facebook Messenger and can send guests an invitation to their bot after that person books a stay. The bot then acts as the guest’s virtual assistant during their stay, allowing them to speak directly to the hotel’s social care team and see neighbourhood guides, for example. The hotel group has also tested providing concierge service through live video chat on Skype and Apple’s FaceTime.

It’s worth remembering that the best technology removes friction points so that people can focus on having a good time. Hotel managers will need to determine the best use of AI in terms of how it contributes to their guests’ experience, and finally how to connect the new data points that will build the single version of truth for the guest. Read more in the ebook by clicking below.