How big will AI really be for hotels?10 May. 2023
By Anne Bleeker, strategic communication advisor
The hospitality industry has always been seen as a laggard when it comes to innovation, but with some of the major developments in technology over the last few years we may well be at a tipping point. AI has seen a particular spike, not just in attention but also adoption, driven by the consumerization of the technology through platforms like ChatGPT. But how big will AI really be for hotels?
We’re already seeing some great examples of what AI can do to help hotels personalize and enhance the guests experience, as well as optimize back-office operations, a welcome advance given the global staff shortages faced by our industry. Hotels increasingly use AI-powered chatbots and voice assistants that can handle common guest requests and inquiries like room service and amenities; we see the use of personalized recommendations for services and activities based on guest data and preferences, as well as the application of dynamic pricing based on demand to optimize room rates and maximize revenues.
Where we may potentially see the biggest impact of AI is the hotel check-in process, which has long been considered as one of the biggest bottlenecks when it comes to the hotel guest experience with long queues, extensive paperwork and standoffish reception desks not considered the most welcoming experience for travelers as a first impression upon arrival. Hotels have tried for years to enhance and optimize the check-in and check-out process but with local regulatory requirements for identity verification as well as payment authorization processes this isn’t an easy feat. AI may well be the game changer when it comes to hotel check-in, including the adoption of facial recognition technology.
AI-powered facial recognition can help streamline the check-in and check-out process, eliminating the need for guests to present their IDs, and speeding up the process. It can also help hotels track guests' movements and preferences, providing them with personalized recommendations and services.
"For millennia, human beings have valued being recognized by other human beings. People love hotels that truly know them. Amazing guest experiences require guests to enjoy personalized memorable experiences, just by being themselves and not constantly having to prove something to someone,” says Pedro Torres, Founder & CEO of Youverse, leaders in decentralized reusable identity. “Reusable identity for online check-in, intelligent spaces that unlock only for the right guests, breakfast lounges without queues where staff will know your preferences, are all examples of use cases where face authentication can bring memorable experiences to hospitality while enhancing both security and personal privacy."
AI can also play a powerful role in the food & beverage space, both in hotels and standalone restaurants, with the cost of technology not prohibitive, even for smaller businesses.
“AI technologies can solve some of the big challenges facing the hospitality industry; staff shortages and cashless society,” says Jason Jeffreys, Chief Executive Officer at FETCH Group. “We are using AI to deliver F&B content based on what a hotel knows about a guest. Combine that with external factors such as weather, time of day and staffing levels, and AI can help deliver a unique dining experience to guests.”
To help solve some of the staff shortages in the industry, FETCH has looked at ways that restaurants can become more efficient without disrupting the dining experience, which includes a new way to pay the bill in restaurants. This technological advancement saves valuable staff time at the end of the dining experience allowing operators to do more with less staff. “Guests can scan a QR code on their phone and view their bill, split it, add a tip and even leave a review in real time that allows operators to use the data before a guest leaves the venue,” Jason adds.
With the world fast becoming cashless, hospitality staff are losing out on cash tips, a core component part of their monthly remuneration. To tackle this challenge, FETCH have developed a fast way to tip using QR codes allowing tips to be delivered digitally straight into staff bank accounts.
These are just a few examples of how hotels can leverage AI to enhance the guest experience and I personally believe this is one of the key areas to watch when it comes to driving innovation in the industry. AI will certainly be a game changer for the industry and will impact many of the current jobs in hospitality.