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In a year of projected slowdown for travel, Millennial families are going to spend more and travel more than all other generational segments according to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers® survey. Catch the new statistics plus a handy infographic that show growth for the travel and hospitality industry in the next 12 months.

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The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hospitality might once have been envisaged as part of some distant future, but it’s now making its way into the hotels of today – helping to improve internal efficiency, price rooms, and enhance the guest experience. Brendon Granger looks at the different ways AI is being implemented right now by hotels around the world.

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Here Come the Robots!
Posted: 08/21/2017

A robot first appeared in a motion picture in 1919, The Master Mystery. The machine was called “the Automaton,” as the term robot would not be used until 1920. Since then our imaginations have been led by humanoid machines capable of capturing our hearts (R2D2) to threatening our very destruction (Westworld, The Terminator).

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How Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing Hospitality

09/11/2017


The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hospitality might once have been envisaged as part of some distant future, but it’s now making its way into the hotels of today – helping to improve internal efficiency, price rooms, and enhance the guest experience.
 
Here are just some of the ways AI is being implemented right now by hotels around the world.
 
1. Voice-controlled technology
Just recently, Wynn Las Vegas announced it will be adding Amazon Echo to all of its 4,748 hotel rooms, giving guests the ability to control various features in their room using just their voice.
Initially, guests will be able to control the lights, temperature, draperies and TV, but Wynn Las Vegas is planning to harness some of Amazon Echo’s other impressive features, including its personal assistant function. Soon, guests could use Echo to get personal recommendations or receive information on hotel services and attractions in the local area.
 
While proving a large investment, this kind of technology isn’t just being used exclusively by major brands.
 
Last year, Clarion Hotel Amaranten in Stockholm started piloting its own in-room assistant based on Amazon Echo. Working with U.S. tech firm Edge DNA, the assistant was designed to include hotel-specific features, such as allowing guests to order taxis, request room service, search online for information, and find out about the hotel opening hours.
 
Consumer demand for personal assistants is booming right now. As they enter the home and start to become mainstream, it’s likely that travellers will soon begin to expect similar technology in their hotel room.
 
2. Rise of the Robots
Working alongside IBM, Hilton is piloting “Connie” - billed as “the hospitality industry’s first Watson-enabled-robot concierge”. When guests check in at the Hilton McLean in Virginia, Connie is on hand to provide information on tourist sights, the local dining scene, and answer questions about hotel services and amenities.
 
Using Watson's cognitive computing power, Connie can sift through vast amounts of online content to answer on-the-spot queries. And with every interaction, Connie learns and develops its ability to make tailored recommendations.
 
Meanwhile, the Henn na Hotel in Sasebo, Japan, is officially the world’s first hotel to be staffed by robots. The front desk is manned by a humanoid female and a dinosaur that helps with check in and check out. A mechanical “robot cloak room” in the lobby stores luggage in private lockers, and robotic porters are available in certain parts of the hotel to carry luggage to rooms. Every room also has an assistant robot called Churi-chan that can carry out a range of functions, such as turning off the room lights and providing up-to-date information on things like current weather conditions.
 
Increasingly, robots are starting to be deployed in hotels around the world. Aloft hotel in Cupertino has a robotic butler called Botlr that delivers items to guests, including towels, toiletries, and coffee. After calling the elevator using Wi-Fi, Botlr navigates its way to a guest’s room, then calls the hotel room phone to announce its arrival.
 
While not artificially intelligent, it’s easy to imagine how the next wave of robotic butlers might be integrated with cognitive capabilities. By learning through every interaction, a robot such as Botlr would be able to establish a guest’s preferences, make personalized recommendations, and provide relevant information about services and amenities – all on the doorstep of the hotel room.
 
3. Tapping into Guest Data
While robotic butlers and in-room voice assistants have some very obvious advantages at the front end of hospitality, artificial intelligence can also deliver major benefits behind the scenes.
 
At the luxury hotel chain Dorchester Collection, AI is being harnessed to gain vital insights into guest needs and preferences. Digital customer feedback is analysed by the Metis platform, which sifts through thousands of reviews in multiple languages. This cognitive computing power was recently applied to a brand-wide study of 7,454 guest reviews. After analysing the data, Metis produced a 30-minute interactive video that summarised its findings to hotel staff.
 
In the first instance, using AI in this way saves hotel staff endless hours of methodically studying customer surveys and feedback. But it can also identify meaningful information and correlations within data that a human might simply miss.
 
By providing in-depth insights from thousands of reviews, AI is helping brands such as Dorchester Collection build deeper customer profiles and monitor general trends across an extensive portfolio. And with the ability to review data so quickly, hotels can access the most up-to-date customer sentiments in virtually no time at all.
 
4. Maximizing Booking Revenue
Together, artificial intelligence and machine learning are also helping hotels maximize their booking revenue. Instead of relying entirely on human judgement, automation can rapidly analyze huge chunks of data to help hoteliers’ price rooms efficiently.
 
Starwood Hotels invested $50 million to develop its own analytics software platform (named ROS) that conducts a staggering amount of calculations using hundreds of variables that impact supply and demand. Based on factors such as past and present booking data, room type, and daily rate information, ROS automatically calibrates pricing.
 
Powered by machine learning, Starwood’s platform also continues to learn and develop its ability to set room rates. For major chains with multiple hotels, having this kind of intelligent automation means that thousands of rooms can be strategically priced in real-time - an achievement that simply isn’t possible through manual human processing.
 
Conclusion
While early days, a number of hotels are already seeing dramatic benefits of artificial intelligence. At the front end, robotic butlers and in-room voice assistants are greeting guests, offering helpful recommendations, and providing a streamlined way to request services and facilities. Behind the scenes, AI is making sense of huge amounts of data to help hotels monitor inventory, price rooms, and gain invaluable guest insights.  
 
As the technology progresses and price comes down, it’s clear that in the coming years, artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the hotel industry in every way imaginable. The time to start considering its potential is now.
About The Author
Brendon Granger
Director
Technology4Hotels


With a great passion for all things hotels, but in particular technology and a desire to help others, his role as director at Technology4Hotels allows him to do both.

Brendon has worked with hundreds of hotels to help them with their in-room technology. In the last few years he has helped them to increase guest satisfaction, strengthen guest loyalty and encourage repeat bookings as well as win awards such as the best business hotel, best city hotel, best upscale hotel and best luxury hotel in Australasia.

Always going the extra mile, Brendon began his hospitality career over 25 years ago working in five-star hotels whilst completing his bachelor of business in hotel management. He has held various management positions within five-star hotels, worked as a consultant in both hotel feasibility and technology and has an extensive background in hotel technology.

 
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