AI Assists Our Advancement Into a Virtual World

By Michael Blake Chief Executive Officer, Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) | January 14, 2018

Artificial Intelligence (AI) provides systems the ability to perform tasks which would normally require human intelligence. This intelligence encompasses visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, translation between languages and more. Consider the use of AI occurring in three separate instances. The first is when an object is simply asked to do something. The second being when an object augments things that were previously routinely performed. And the third, when an object can learn and perform more complex tasks. Each of these generic instances can be transferred over and applied to the hotel setting.

An object has the ability to be programmed to perform certain tasks to avoid dedicating human resources to brainlessly complete the same job. One way we have seen this branch into the hotel industry is through the use of robotics. Hotels have implemented robots to perform simple tasks including check-in services, luggage storage and retrieval, and room service delivery. If jobs can be completed by objects without taking away from the guest experience, why should these tasks not be taken over? These objects may also offer additional benefits such as improving the accuracy of output and lowering the cost of labor.

AI augmenting system processes can save significant amounts of time and labor for a hotel. This would enable the routing of more difficult questions, and potential emotional ones, to a human guest representative. The entering of guest information on a routine reservation is one reoccurring practice of an employee that could be replaced by the implementation of a chatbot. The chatbot would seamlessly be able to fill in the necessary data fields, lightening the workload of a hotel employee and allowing them to spend more time on other responsibilities.

Learning and performing complex tasks ties machine learning to AI. Machine learning is comprised of an object using a wide variety of algorithms and methodologies to first pull data and then learn from that data to complete the task at hand as well as improve its performance over time. Machine learning plays a great deal of application in the understanding of guest behavior and pricing. If a guest books a spa package on one visit, during the next visit, the machine will be capable of detecting that information and then providing a discounted rate for the same spa service or a similar one. AI and machine learning can also work in junction to automate room features. For example, a guest could set their wake-up time for their alarm to go off, but then AI would trigger the drapes to open and their preferred news station to also turn on at the same time.

Benefits for Both the Guest and the Hotel

A return on investment is always an imperative factor for any company. Therefore, it is important that we make sure these emerging concepts or products will actually benefit both the guest and the hotel. AI enables guests to engage on platforms which were previously absent. These platforms may include a chatbot on a hotel's app or a voice control in the guestroom. Both of these technologies create convenience as well as enhance the guests' experience and guest-to-hotel relationship. Without these platforms, guests would be forced to walk down to the front desk or call the front desk (assuming they are in their room) to receive an answer to what may be a simple question. These routes would both account for more time out of the guest's stay and may not always ensure immediate feedback.

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Coming up in November 2018...

Architecture & Design: Expecting the Unexpected

There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide and the hotel industry is continually looking for new ways to differentiate its properties. In some cases, hotels themselves have become travel destinations and guests have come to expect the unexpected - to experience the touches that make the property unlike any other place in the world. To achieve this, architects and designers are adopting a variety of strategies to meet the needs of every type of guest and to provide incomparable customer experiences. One such strategy is site-integration - the effort to skillfully marry a hotel to its immediate surroundings. The goal is to honor the cultural location of the property, and to integrate that into the hotel's design - both inside and out. Constructing low-impact structures that blend in with the environment and incorporating local natural elements into the design are essential to this endeavor. Similarly, there is an ongoing effort to blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces - to pull the outside in - to enable guests to connect with nature and enjoy beautiful, harmonious surroundings at all times. Another design trend is personalization - taking the opportunity to make every space within the hotel original and unique. The days of matching decor and furniture in every room are gone; instead, designers are utilizing unexpected textures, mix-and-match furniture, diverse wall treatments and tiles - all to create a more personalized and fresh experience for the guest. Finally, lobbies are continuing to evolve. They are being transformed from cold, impersonal, business-like spaces into warm, inviting, living room-like spaces, meant to provide comfort and to encourage social interaction. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.