Communicating with businesses through online channels is becoming commonplace in our digital era, and hotels are no exception. Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are popular due to their ability to automate communication through simulated human conversation. However, chatbots can often hurt rather than help the guest experience. Research from PwC found that 71 percent of U.S. consumers would rather interact with a human than a chatbot or some other automated process. Yet your guests still want quick answers to their queries.
An ideal solution is to implement an innovative hotel application with messaging capability. You can then offer guests two-way, contactless interactions with hotel staff in real time, addressing detailed guest requests in a fast and friendly way.
More effective at helping guests discover new content
GUEST: Will I need a jacket for the festival this weekend?
CHATBOT: Sorry, I don’t understand the question.
GUEST: What’s the weather like for the festival this weekend?
CHATBOT: I could not find any results for that location.
GUEST: What’s the weather like in Newport, RI this weekend?
CHATBOT: The weather in Newport, RI is 55 degrees and partly sunny.
GUEST: This weekend?
CHATBOT: Sorry, I don’t understand the question.
Many hotel guests who have used AI chatbots – such as an Alexa unit – to get details regarding things to do in the area have experienced the frustration of being trapped in this type of chatbot conversation loop. And even after they give up and finally transfer to a human for help, they may hit another obstacle. AI chatbots can lead staff members to become lazy because they no longer feel the need to stay on top of relevant area information. They put guests on hold while they search for answers, leading to even longer waits and greater dissatisfaction.
With the right hotel application, guests can simply text questions to real live team members for an immediate, personalized response. Furthermore, when guests have more niche interests, conversations can quickly become personalized and unique to each user, creating a human connection and personal touch that makes guests feel seen, heard and appreciated.
The best way to handle complex work orders
AI chatbots draw from static response templates which can be helpful for answering standard FAQs but are limited in the solutions they can provide. AI chatbots can’t improvise when dealing with more complex work orders and specific requests. In fact, research shows that when it comes to handling detailed, complex customer inquiries, guests strongly prefer dealing with a human over the cookie-cutter, impersonal approach of a bot.
As an example, consider a detailed food-and-beverage order. Perhaps you have a guest who has a number of explicit requirements when it comes to preparing their food: they need their vegetables steamed and prepared with no oil or salt, they want the onion on their burger grilled, not raw, and they want their apple pie a la mode with the ice cream on the side, not on top of the crust.
With the right hotel app, team members connect with guests to easily accommodate these types of individualized requests. In addition, over 1 in 3 guests expect your staff to be familiar with their preferences through past interactions. With an integrated app, staff can increase guest satisfaction by drawing from robust guest profiles to provide customized answers on the fly.
Greater ability to interact with the guest room
We’re living in an era of increased demand for Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices. Intelligent mobile apps can not only provide contactless check-in/out and mobile key but offer guests more control over their entire in-room experience, including the power to control room temperature and lighting whether on or off property, and stream personal content on the TV. An app also facilitates detailed service requests beyond what an AI chatbot can handle. For instance, guests may prefer that housekeeping clean their bathroom daily, but leave the bedding as it is, or they may have instructions concerning how certain pieces of laundry are handled. An advanced hotel app integrates with in-room systems and lets hotel staff address special requests in a prompt and personalized way.
There should be one motivation behind any technology you implement in your hotel: it’s all about the guest. An AI chatbot has its uses for standard issues, but to create those one-of-a-kind, high-touch yet touch-less experiences that meet modern guests’ expectations, you need a sophisticated hotel application.
Interested in creating an effective application for your hotel?
 “Experience Is Everything: Here's How to Get It Right.” PwC, 2018, https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/consumer-intelligence-series/future-of-customer-experience.html?WT.mc_id=CT11-PL1000-DM2-TR2-LS4-ND30-TTA5-CN_FutureofCXIEO-E2&eq=infeditorial_price.
 “Chatbots deliver speed, but consumers still want humans. Are we moving too quickly to automation?” CGS, 2018, https://www.cgsinc.com/sites/default/files/media/resources/pdf/CGS_Consumer%2BCustServ%2Binfographic%2B2018.pdf.  Ibid.