You’re possibly thinking, a chat-what? While the term chatbot might still be a foreign term for some hotel owners, this technology is quickly gaining momentum in the hospitality and travel industries as more marketing experts begin to harness its potential.
Whilst you may not be familiar with the term, you have no doubt interacted with a chatbot one way or another. Think about Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa – these are all advanced forms of chatbots. Or put simply, computer programs powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that are designed to simulate conversations with human users.
So what exactly is a chatbot?
If you’re familiar with instant messaging platforms (like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Viber etc) you’ll understand the basics behind a chatbot. A chatbot is essentially the next generation of this instant messaging technology that we use every day. Run using artificial intelligence, a chatbot is basically a computer answering your guests, instead of a person.
Currently, there are two types of chatbots that can be used for your business. They are ones that follow precise rules given to them. So it responds to very specific commands that you have given it. Or there is the more ‘fancy chatbot’, which has its own artificial brain (artificial intelligence). This bot gets a lot smarter on its own and learns by the conversations it has with people. It collects that information and retains it. It doesn’t need commands as such as it can understand language too (crazy right?).
How can a chatbot help my business? Do I really need one?
First of all, having a chatbot means that your guests can get on-demand information in a natural and conversational way, 24/7 and in just one click, and the chances of losing a guest during the booking journey reduce considerably.
Hotels across the industry are using chatbots to improve customer relations by responding in real-time to messages across channels — especially in an effort to attract and appease more millennials. It’s a smart way to overcome the resource limitations that keep you from answering every inquiry immediately and stay on top in a service-based world where immediacy is key.
Checking-in can turn into a long process, and if it does, it can start a stay off on the wrong foot. With hotel chatbots, there’s room for the process to become much easier by leaving people free to check-in digitally and just pick up the keys. This isn’t a widespread use for chatbots currently, but properties that are able to crack that code will inevitably be one step ahead.
Some other benefits are:
- They will help independent hotels to build accurate guest profiling so that they can provide personalized offers to their guests. The hotel will be able to deliver tailor-made offers instantly and directly via chat before, during or after their stay.
- Guests can opt-in to be notified from chatbots about the places to visit, the rates of the hotel’s cars, etc.
- The ease of booking and proactive concierge services create brand loyalty and improve guest satisfaction.
- Hoteliers will be able to obtain customer reviews post-stay via a chatbot. This is much less invasive compared to traditional email marketing, which is often ignored
As you can see, chatbots present many opportunities for hoteliers, from increasing customer loyalty to enhancing the guest experience. To keep your guests coming back for more, definitely consider joining the chatbot revolution – but only if your hotel is equipped and prepared for this big step.
We love hearing from you. Are you using chatbots on your hotel website? Feel free to share your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org