Artificial intelligence and platforms like ChatGPT are popular topics at the moment. But to what extent is this technology genuinely relevant to the hospitality industry? We discuss four areas of application with hotel experts.
No matter where you look, artificial intelligence (AI) is and will remain the hot topic of 2023.
Actually, AI is nothing new. Scientists have been working on its development for a long time and many industries are already using AI.
However, the release of ChatGPT means that AI has become easily accessible to many people for the first time.
The potential applications seem endless. This raises the question of how this new technology is relevant or has the potential to become relevant for hotels. It is also important to consider the extent to which we want to rely on AI and whether it is sensible to delegate thought processes and decision-making to computer systems.
AI and hotels – Can they work together?
As in many other sectors, the hotel industry is currently considering the potential influence of AI. This is a hotly debated topic, especially with regard to generative AI, which has the capability to generate text, images and codes based on user requests, among other functionalities.
"AI can be regarded as an opportunity or a risk. On one hand, there is concern that it could soon make many jobs obsolete. On the other hand, AI frees up time for demanding, non-automatable tasks", explains Daniel. In the hotel industry, for example, this includes strategic planning in revenue management and personalized interactions with guests.
According to Florian, there is no point in avoiding the topic out of fear or ignorance: “The technology is here now and will continue to evolve. The only solution is to deal with it and make the best of the situation. That means using AI synergistically to develop new ideas and support your own skills.”
Despite the many benefits of AI, Marco interjects that its impact may not be as significant as anticipated: "Not that long ago, blockchain was the big new thing that was expected to completely revolutionize everything. After the initial hype, however, it turned out that this technology is not equally applicable to all industries.”
It should therefore be considered how AI will prove relevant for the hotel industry.
Four areas of application for artificial intelligence in the hotel industry
From among the seemingly boundless possibilities that AI brings, our guests explored four specific examples during the live stream, that offer genuine added value for hoteliers.
Creation of texts and other content
You've probably seen plenty of them yourself - articles and LinkedIn posts showcasing AI-generated content that feels natural and human. However, despite some authors claims that AI is now fully capable of generating content entirely automatically, it's not quite there yet.
Nevertheless, Florian does find AI tools useful: “AI tools are very helpful for swiftly finding good keywords and structuring videos and blog articles. But I don't think it's a good idea to simply let the tool create all of your content. It may lack a personal touch, and generated texts are often inadequately tailored to the target audience.”
Daniel agrees: “Platforms like ChatGPT can save hoteliers a lot of time with content marketing. However, to get good text suggestions, you need to provide appropriate instructions. The best way to learn how to do this is to experiment with the tool and try different approaches."
Replying to guest comments
Positive reviews on Google, TripAdvisor and similar platforms can help your hotel to generate more reservations and sales. In an ideal world, you would also reply to every comment. "Above all, a good response to a complaint is worth a lot", says Daniel. "It shows that you value feedback and want to rectify any mistakes."
Of course, doing all this manually takes a lot of time. One solution is to create responses using an AI tool. To be successful with this, Elisha advises: "Use generative AI to quickly create a variety of responses to your reviews. However, the same advice applies here: avoid adopting the text suggestions verbatim and tailor them to suit your hotel and its guests. This will save you time and you can still respond to each comment individually.”
Florian also suggests: "Use AI for sentiment analysis. To do this, feed the system with guest comments so that it can show you trends. If a particular point is frequently praised or criticized, your team can respond accordingly."
Many hotels successfully use chatbots on their websites or in combination with messaging services like WhatsApp. At first, these solutions were usually only able to answer simple questions about room prices or the hotel restaurant's opening hours. With the help of AI, these chatbots will soon be able to respond more effectively to more complex questions and requests by guests.
"Nowadays, many guests expect to be able to communicate with hotels using a chat function. So, it makes sense to implement such systems if you want to cater to the needs of modern-day travelers", says Daniel.
Florian shares a similar view and recommends: "Chatbots can now be programmed to speak the language of your hotel and your brand. Use them to give guests easy access to basic information. However, in the case of more complex requests, escalate them quickly for staff to deal with in order to avoid frustration.”
“This is particularly important in the luxury hotel industry. These guests expect individualized responses and personalized support. This is not likely to change anytime soon, even in the face of increasing digitalization", adds Marco.
Revenue management and data analysis
In revenue management, many labor-intensive manual tasks are already being automated. Primarily, this entails collecting and organizing data relating to markets, competition and sales. With the help of AI, this data can now be analyzed in more depth.
"Now there is a wide range of business intelligence tools that use AI to provide price recommendations. But you still need background knowledge and experience to achieve good results with these programs," says Daniel. Despite the availability of this modern software, responsibility for pricing will continue to lie with the revenue manager. Marco, Daniel and Florian agree on this point.
Lastly, considering that AI is still in its early stages, Daniel offers the following advice: "Stay on the ball. Try new technology, but don't blindly rely on it. These are just tools that can help you with your work. Strategic thinking and well-informed decisions will always remain the key to success.”
So, the bottom line is to accept new technology, test it and, where appropriate, integrate it into your everyday business life. It remains crucial to exercise independent thinking rather than delegating all responsibility to AI. After all, you still know and understand your hotel and your guests best.
Florian agrees and adds: "Keep an open mind and feel free to play around with AI. In this way, you can learn about what the latest innovations mean for your business and how you can use them to create added value for your guests and your team.”
A "conversation" with ChatGPT can also be quite entertaining ...