What Is a Hotel Chatbot?
A hotel chatbot serves as a modern-day equivalent of a concierge and is one of the newest innovations in hotel technology. The chatbot is usually deployed as a digital customer service agent, mimicking a customer’s meaningful interactions with an employee.
Chatbots can perform various functions, including responding to various queries, handling room service and housekeeping orders, and digitalizing the check-in and check-out process.
In this article, we'll take a closer look into the two most common types of chatbots for hotels: namely, rule-based and AI-powered chatbots.
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Rule-Based Versus AI-Based Chatbots– Which One Is Best?
The two common types of chatbots in hotels are either rule-based and AI-based chatbots. Rule-based chatbots are programmed with specific rules and guidelines to respond to messages appropriately, while AI-based chatbots can learn as they engage in more conversations - let’s take a deeper look at these below.
1. Rule-Based Hotel Chatbots
Rule-based hotel chatbots is the most basic form of chatbots available. A rule-based chatbot is operated using labelled on-screen action buttons with the user clicking the on-screen action buttons to progress the conservation.
These bots communicate using a clear set of rules. They will usually be based around “if/else” statements such as “Would you like to request housekeeping services?” and require further prompting from the user to continue by selecting the ‘yes’ button.
The main benefit of this option is its simplicity and, consequently, its cost-effectiveness.
2. AI-Based Hotel Chatbots
The more sophisticated alternative to rule-based hotel chatbots. As the name implies, these hotel chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence and can understand written communication, interpret it and respond appropriately. They are mimicking a personal interaction with a real person.
More advanced chatbots can take this a step further by utilizing machine learning to pick up information and find a series of preferences from the user to make a smart, personalized recommendation. Subsequently, fully taking the place of a human customer service representative.
3. Comparison - Which Chatbot for Hotels is Best?
While both chatbots are viable options to fully enhance the customer experience, AI-powered chatbots offer a far greater level of personalization to create more natural communication.
This results in a better customer experience, all while offering the ability to continuously improve through machine learning results. As the AI-chatbot technology continues to improve, it is likely that AI-powered chatbots are the future and will be used in increasingly more number of customer touchpoints, with many rule-based bots being replaced.
Why Do Hotels Need Chatbots?
Today’s travel consumers have become increasingly digitally and tech-savvy than ever. Coupled with the accelerated digital transformation brought upon by the pandemic, many of today’s travellers’ service expectations have become centred around self-service, from online planning and booking to preferences for contactless check-in, mobile keys, and communication with hotel staff via messaging.
Metasphere’s AI-Powered Chatbot offers an easy solution to changing consumer behaviour and expectations.
Top Five Advantages of Using Chatbot Solutions for Hotels
1. 24/7 Customer service
Modern consumers expect a high-quality, timely response time, which can be challenging in the travel and hospitality industry dealing with a global clientele. Hotel chatbots can solve that problem by providing 24/7 customer service, regardless of the time of day.
2. Increase Direct Bookings
Hotels can foresee an increase in the number of conversions by allowing hotel chatbots to respond quickly and efficiently to inquiries received through their website and social media platforms.
Additionally, providing options to book directly from that platform or offering direct links to the primary booking system eliminates the need to pay third-party commissions.
3. Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Opportunities
In addition to providing 24/7 customer service and helping to increase direct bookings, a chatbot can also provide opportunities for a hotel to up-sell and cross-sell in a fluid, natural way by building on relevant topics and potentially increasing the likelihood that the customer takes up the opportunities by pushing more catered personalized options.
During the booking process, the chatbot might use information gathered to push relevant additional options such as breakfast or spa services. Or, if a particular room is selected, a chatbot could push a recommendation for a room upgrade, room service, or provide information about the hotel facilities available.
4. Reduced Burden on Staff
With current labour shortages across the hospitality industry, hotel customer services teams can quickly become overworked, creating backlogs and reducing the hotel’s overall efficiency.
A chatbot can help alleviate the burden by helping to respond to queries across social media channels and other platforms - freeing up the customer service staff to handle more complex cases.
5. Follow Up with Guests
It has become increasingly important to follow up with guests after they have checked out to receive feedback. Chatbots are ideal for this; hotels can now reach out to guests across various channels to learn what guests liked or disliked, what their overall perceptions of the hotel were, and make appropriate improvements based on feedback gathered.
AI-powered chatbots, in particular, can personalize their follow-up efforts and provide further updates about the hotels and any relevant promotions. This helps maintain guest loyalty and creates repeated visits.
Is It Complicated to Build a Chatbot?
With various hotel bots available, selecting the right one is vital. In an increasingly competitive industry, only through accelerated investments in technology, cloud, mobility, AI, robotics can the hospitality industry reduce staffing needs and unsustainable labour costs and appeal to the exceedingly tech-savvy guests and their increasingly high technology expectations.
Many past technologies have or will become obsolete in response to the accelerated technological transformation.
A chatbot should have comprehensive features to compete and fulfil changing customer expectations.
Be able to support multi-channel functionality, and communicate across multiple channels by offering a comprehensive dashboard. Allowing the hotel to manage communication from different platforms, all in one place
FAQ automation which can provide standard answers to respond to commonly asked questions rapidly, allowing for a more seamless customer experience
Integration with OPERA OMS and to your hotel’s existing hotel stack
Personalization options that will allow the identification of key messages that are important for an individualized marketing strategy
Machine Learning enables a hotel to continuously improve over time and offer intelligent answers to questions, even if it has been set up to deal with them.
Access to performance analytics and reports to ascertain the performance of the bot and make necessary adjustments,
In the hospitality industry, on average, less than 2.5% of net room revenue is on IT, telecom, and IT personnel payroll/benefits. The pandemic has further reduced technology investments in technology and created an even more severe setback in an already traditionally technology-averse industry.
In its current state, the hospitality industry has very little experience dealing with technology on many different fronts. From the list detailed above, the industry is ill-prepared and lacks the resources to entirely create and invest a functional chatbot to the level of industry standards.
From a resource standpoint, it is far more advantageous to outsource this production to an experienced third party technology supplier such as Metasphere. Rather than reinventing the wheel, Metasphere offers an existing solution that is tried and true.
Conclusion: What Is a Hotel Chatbot?
With constant innovations in hotel technology, a hotel chatbot is one of many technologies that can be invaluable for hotel owners. Chatbot technology has evolved rapidly and now forms a crucial part of the hotel experience. It has become a necessary component of streamlining and enhancing the guest experience.
However, the adoption and implementation of chatbot technology is still a significant hurdle for many hotel owners to overcome. Are you thinking of deploying a chatbot solution in your hotel? Learn more about our hotel chatbot solution today!