An automated world: artificial intelligence in the hotel industry

September 29, 2020   |   Hospitality insights, Tips for Hoteliers

Long ago were the days that we hand wrote guest arrival dates and details – even the excel sheet is slowly becoming obsolete for hoteliers.

It’s the year 2020…and how many films have you seen exploring the notion of automation?

We may not be driving hover cars, or own hologram computers (though they’re in the works) – but in the last 20 or so years, our world has transformed to what we could only refer to as a digital universe. Technology is all around us, and for the hotel industry this means great change.

This automation growth is exponential – and though humans created it, it’s taking on a mind of its own.

Its name? Artificial intelligence.

 

Artificial intelligence meaning: what is it?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to any type of automation that carries out tasks, otherwise traditionally done by humans. Its name ‘artificial intelligence’ is derived from the fact that these machines are becoming seemingly just as (or even more) intelligent than humans.

Artificial intelligence definition: AI refers to automated computer systems that mirror human intelligence – machines that undertake decision-making and problem-solving with a mind of their own.

AI, as machines, are considered to be digital thought-leaders.

Humans may have created machines, but machines now think for themselves. From advanced computer technology, to smartphones, to hotel software – our machines carry out cognitive tasks such as data processing, and even conversation.

AI is programmed in our phones, our software, our cars – everyday we optimise AI to make our daily tasks simpler. Sometimes, we even let them think for us.

20 years ago, computers and GPS were considered ‘smart machines’, today we literally have life-like ‘robots’. Now these robots may not be optimised by the average person, but other robots certainly are. ‘Siri’ on our iPhones and chatbots on our hotel software are common examples.

 

Artificial intelligence in hotels: how’s it relevant?

So how exactly is AI relevant to hoteliers?

For the hotel industry, AI is becoming increasingly more significant. In fact, AI automation is already optimised across a variety of hotel operations.

Day-to-day examples of artificial intelligence software in hotels:

  • Booking engines
  • Automated communications
  • Self check-ins
  • Hotel software systems

Essentially, AI is a cognitive tool that minimises human tasks, effectively transferring operations to machines. 

With hotel software for example, integration can act seamlessly across your accommodation business – simplifying the process, so that all your staff have to do is click a few buttons. The machine does the nitty-gritty work (like data processing for instance). 

The significance of AI in the hospitality industry, in a nutshell, is the advancement of automated tools that streamline business practices – freeing up time for staff to spend time on what’s important: taking care of customers.

PRENO TIP

We designed Preno to minimise administrative tasks for hoteliers, and maximise time spent on personalising the customer experience.

 

Where is artificial intelligence in the hotel industry going?

While today we optimise AI property management systems, and online chatbots – in our figurative tomorrow we will see life-like ‘robots’ in our hotels.

Some hotels across the world have already introduced AI robots as customer service providers, assisting hoteliers in checking-in guests, and providing guidance. Hoteliers are able to program a set of data, or ‘responses’, that AI robots can then draw on to engage in conversation with guests.

AI advancements are continuously being refined by experts, and with continuous invention, comes continuous change. 

Topical issues across the globe will cause further impact – and this is already happening with the impacts of coronavirus. Face-to-face business is becoming more and more limited, so the need to implement robotic AI assistants in hotels may someday become a necessity

 

The pros and cons of artificial intelligence in hotels

Like all advancements, there are both positive and negative perceptions of AI in the hospitality industry. While machine learning is significantly benchmarking the way hoteliers do business, it also embodies possibly unfavourable impacts.

Let’s compare…

How artificial intelligence enhances the hotel guest experience

In the most basic terms, AI simplifies. And when it comes to AI in the hospitality industry, both the staff and guest experience is enhanced.

Our world is shaped around digital technology – we spend hours looking at our smartphones and laptops (some of us even own drones). We take advice from automation, and we have no problem doing this, because it makes life simpler.

The bottom line is: automation is convenient.

Let’s take for example, the guest booking process: From the moment a guest searches ‘accommodation’ online – digital bots (aka AI) process everything.

Search engine crawlers assess the most relevant accommodation based on a guest’s search term, a guest finds your property (most likely on an OTA website), and all they have to do is click a ‘book now’ button.

Little do many guests know the integral AI technology that happens behind the scenes.

The site crawlers, the channel manager, the property management system. There is a whole world of digital bots helping guests book their hotel room – AI does all the work for them.

With AI, everything is simplified. So are you still wondering how artificial intelligence enhances the guest experience?

 

How AI might shape the hotel industry unfavourably for staff

While the benefits of AI are of abundance for hoteliers and guests alike, the future concerns are two-fold.

Today, artificial intelligence in hotels is slowly starting to see robots acting as concierge, or information portals for guests. But the concern is this: will the future see AI replace human jobs?

The two-fold future concern: if hoteliers one day replace front desk staff with AI, this will result in not only loss of jobs but also human interactions (the benchmark of customer service).

The further we develop AI, the further AI will develop a mind of its own. It is up to hoteliers to keep on top of AI trends (both positive and negative), and ensure to implement only those that will enhance the guest experience.

PRENO TIP

While automated chatbots and streamlined property management systems (like Preno) are immeasurably beneficial to the guest experience, human interaction still exceeds in importance. When innovating your hotel with AI technology, ensure to create a balance of the two.

 

The future of AI in hospitality: an impending robotic future

Artificial intelligence software will change the hotel industry forever

When you take a step back and think about where we were 20 years ago with automation, it is truly amazing to think about how we now have machines that almost match human intellect. 

AI is benchmarking the way we do business, and while the hotel industry may not be at the forefront, it is undeniably heading that way. 

 

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About the author

Preno's Content Marketer, Alix, is educated in the Tourism field, so seeks to apply this to knowledge to content that guides and inspires hoteliers. She is a passionate writer who enjoys creating content.