The age of AI based chat concierges
Seeing the success of some of the biggest hotel branches introducing comprehensive AI chat services recently, we have received many questions from our clients about how small and large accommodations could utilize automated messaging and chat channels so we have decided to put together a short collection of ideas showing the wide variety of options. There is no way we can cover every possible use in a single article so this is only meant to be a discussion starter, sort of a teaser to help you find some interesting ideas that we can help you to refine and extend in the future.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a giant like Hyatt or Marriott to enjoy the advantages of an automated AI chat channel and likewise you don’t need to be under a certain size either so it doesn’t matter if you have a single apartment on Airbnb or have your own separate platform for a complete family of hostels in multiple locations, you will find that AI based chat solutions hold a tremendous value and can introduce significant improvements to your processes.
Lets see a nowhere near complete list of these:
Check prices and availability
If your business is even just remotely connected to renting rooms chances are almost a hundred percent that you already have it on booking.com, airbnb.com or any of the many similar local sites, where you have your prices and available options listed, so you are already covered, right?
Well, there were countless times, even in my humble travelling history when I needed to contact a host directly because they seemed to be fully booked but could still get a room or got a much better direct price or had some specific questions that I wanted to clarify before placing my order. I was a lead really interested in their offering and they could directly convert my interest into dollars paying for their excellent services.
However, if you are a small business managing your own property, you can’t be available 0-24h on all days of the week, you also need sleep after all and even if you have a non-stop front desk, you most probably don’t have your full staff available during the night shifts so you need to balance the workload. So, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the rather sleepless modern AI bots and let them do what they are the best at, answer the most common, repeating questions instantly and provide the most up to date information you have. Once the bot could sort out all the questions, it can drop in a promotional offer, sign the user up for further marketing messages or even better, help book a room directly through the chat and close the deal for you.
Check-in, registration, surveys
What is the single most annoying thing when travelling? Difficult question, you may immediately want to make it a top 5 or top 10 but we can all agree that standing in lines and waiting for security checks, customs, tickets, info desks… and the list could go on is at the top of all of our lists.
So, probably one of the most obvious ways to boost customer experience is to minimize wait for your guests and make check-in, registration and providing general information as instant and snappy as possible. Let them use their phone to check-in, let your AI concierge guide them to their room, tell them the breakfast and checkout times, pool rules via instant messages, ask them to type in their license plate number for parking. If you think about it, you need to provide the same set of essential information to every single one of your guests so you are repeating the same lines over and over again. There is no easier task for your AI concierge to take over and it also helps your guest to have everything written down, they can just scroll back in Messenger.
In addition to that, whenever you want to improve your services and offering even further, there is no better way than actually asking your guests how their stay was and hearing their opinion first hand. However, I can say from first hand experience that surveys sent out via email or handed out at the front desk usually just get ignored. Your AI concierge on the other hand can drop a few questions from time to time into the conversation and ask feedback about your guests’ stay bit by bit without it feeling like filling in a 24 questions school exam.
Room service, city tour, best places to go
Following the ideas in the previous section, if you think about it, there are only a number of favorite, frequently asked questions and there are only a handful of requests or issues that you or your front desk needs to deal with on a daily basis.
What is the best winery nearby? Where can we get the best pizza in the district? I need more towels, pillows or drinks in my room. We are planning a sightseeing tour but where can we rent mopeds, what are the places we must see? You are really well prepared for these types of questions, you could just print out a FAQ and hang it on the door but you want to keep it personal and you want your guest to feel like they get the best service possible so you draw directions on papers and maps, you smile and direct them to the same corner restaurant you always do and so on. Thanks to modern technology, your AI concierge can easily take this over, make replying such questions automated but still keep it feel personal. Plus it can send location links or reserve tables automatically, it never sleeps and as we will see in the next section, it always speaks the language of your guest.
Send reminders or promotional offers
Once a potential or returning guest was in touch with you, your goal is to sign them up for further chat messages. Whether you want to send reminders about the upcoming start date of their trip, remind them of the check out times or invite them back for the next season with a dedicated offer, chat (especially Facebook Messenger) seems like a really good idea. On the one hand, you most probably don’t have the extra capacity to call every single guest one by one but on the other hand emails are just not personal enough and always land in the spam folder anyways. This makes an AI chat channel the obvious choice because it is a lot more personal than email, has a much better open rate, it allows two way communication so your guests can ask back and get an instant reply but still can be fully automated and cover every time zone on earth.
I can clearly remember that there was a time in my life when I was pretty convinced that as I speak English and pretty much everyone else around me speaks a bit of English, I will never have any problem getting around and get people to understand me. Well, it quickly turned out that I just didn’t travel far enough before.
It is not uncommon for a concierge to speak 4-5 languages on a basic level just to be able to talk to guests from all over the globe. The good news is, through an AI supported chat, you can easily bump this up to even 20-30 languages and let the engine pick the conversation language automatically. In our experience, localized messaging can yield 27% more engagement and greatly improved conversion rates when offering additional services like spa and massage.
As we saw, an AI engine running your chat channels is the best at handling repeating, frequent and fairly predictable requests and processes. It does the heavy lifting for you, it can ask all the lead qualification questions, provide the WiFi password, show the map to the gift shop, send out promotional offers saving you an incredible amount of time. This in itself is already worth the investment but the system is also clever enough to hand over the conversation and switch on LiveChat for you so you can talk to your guest directly. If you are not in the chat system, it can simply forward you the request via email whenever it is needed or specifically requested by the guest so you can make sure that they booking and stay will be a perfect experience.
Possibilities don’t stop here as integration with your backend systems can improve the service even further. With the right setup your AI concierge can book tables and activities, forward room service requests, order airport shuttle without any staff interaction needed.
Considering introducing AI chat at your accommodation? You have a new idea that you did not see in the article? Get in touch and let us help you introduce create an AI front desk for your business.