Here's How AI Is Going to Reshape the Hospitality Industry
It can help boost revenue, predict customer needs and provide around-the-clock service.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Picture it: You own a hotel. It's 2 a.m., and you're wrapped in the comforting warmth of your bed, but a potential customer is online on the other side of the world looking to book a room. For them, it's lunchtime, and they're looking for accommodations for their next trip. They have a question, though, and there are no employees available to answer it. So, by the time you are online, they aren't there anymore — and neither is their booking.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the key to meeting your customers' needs in the hospitality industry before they even know they have them. Anywhere. At any time. Integrate AI into your hospitality offering, and watch your conversion rates and revenue grow.
AI and hospitality
Hospitality is a 24/7/365 industry. Potential customers are looking for accommodation, flights, taxis and rental cars around the clock. Even if you had an employee in every time zone in the world, they could still only handle one customer at a time.
The global online travel market was valued at $431.14 billion in 2020, and by integrating AI into your digital presence in the form of chat boxes, data collection and always-on staffing, you can secure your piece of that pie.
Related: Educators, Here's How to Find Your Ideal Student with AI
Even AI needs help
Although AI provides a great leap forward in terms of constant accessibility and data collection, it still needs to be managed correctly in order to provide real benefits.
The data that AI collects helps you to understand what information is missing from your digital communications with your customers. It highlights the holes, but you need to know what to fill them with. The data collection aspect of AI in the hospitality industry is just as important as directly assisting customers in real-time. By collecting and correctly harnessing this data, you can provide prospective customers with the answers to their questions right on your website.
AI will collect a huge amount of data for you about your customers, their interactions with your product offering, where they are finding you and much more. There will never be a single solution to harnessing this data, though. It will always depend on your business and the questions you are trying to answer. That's where the human touch comes in.
Related: Technology Taking the Hospitality Industry to a New Height
Grow with data
To use this AI-gathered data for true growth, though, it's vital to ensure that we aren't only focusing on one part of the customer journey. Too often, we zoom in solely on the portion of the path to our product that leads to a sale. In the hospitality industry, that needs to include a far wider scope.
By also harnessing data on trends such as room type selection, occupancy trends, channel profitability and guest demographics, we can work to ensure that we are providing our future guests with what they want before they ask for it. When all of this post-purchase data is combined with pre-purchase data based on holistic attribution, we have a single powerful source of information with which the marketing department can really ramp up its efforts.
If you are not holistically looking at this data, you may attribute the wrong channel to sales and return business. Take the Hilton Hotel chain as an example. It would be easy for the company to assume that it is their brand that predominantly drives sales. Customers are familiar with and trust the brand, so they must be choosing a Hilton hotel in their destination for that reason. Through holistic data attribution, the hotel chain will realize that while its brand plays a role, there are other interactions near the top of the funnel that make all the difference.
Related: 3 Trends That are Shaping the Hospitality Industry
Imagine predicting what your customer wants before they even know they want it. Now, picture how seamless the customer journey could be if you had already paved the way with AI-harnessed data. The hospitality industry has the ability to use AI to boost revenue and improve the customer experience, and the time is now.