June 20, 2018
Hotel managers, brands and owners are grappling with the effective use of Artificial Intelligence in hotel operations.
Personal touch-points and anticipated guest interactions are the pillars of hospitality. These cornerstones however, are becoming more expensive and elusive for hoteliers to achieve. Even adapting a strategy of continuous improvement towards perfection in procedures and techniques yields efficiency but can quickly become void of personality. Technology can shorten manufacturing processes and robots can take over fabrication jobs. Neither can replace the personal interactions a human can provide a guest during a remarkable stay. The question of how this new technology can impact the service culture has to be answered while balancing challenges of privacy and security.
Ariana Pampoulides, CEO at acomos™, recognizes that technology has come a long way in a few years. “Making payments online or by tapping your phone, watch or contactless card is an everyday thing now, but just a few years ago we were paying by cash only and manually completing paper forms upon check in,” she says. However, Pampoulides continues, “the introduction of technology has streamlined operations, (but) it has also left hotels vulnerable to cyber-attacks.”
Balancing the privacy of guest information takes precedence over any other considerations when developing software and applications for this technology. Pampoulides says; “There have been so many companies under scrutiny because of breaches in data and hence security, that it will no doubt be playing on people’s minds when they interact with new technology.” Hotels need to take into account the security of any system as they permeate the guest experience with technology. “If you are going to deploy new technology in your business, you have to understand exactly how it is going to improve your business, how it works and how failsafe it is,” she concludes.
Guests will continue to expect more technology during their stay as with their everyday life. Artificial Intelligence is no exception. “Technology has made the guest experience much more immediate but somewhat less personal,” Pampoulides adds.
Dimitriss Frossinis, Managing Director at HotelFeedback agrees with this sentiment. “(Guest) experience is the speedy internet, it’s the satellite TV or the video games, not the spa and food,” he says. The most luxurious or lavish hotels need a strong WiFi service in today’s market. No amount of service, views, food and beverage or amenities can replace a strong connection to the internet.
Frossinis has a different outlook on the use of AI in hotel operations. “I believe that AI will offer fantastic solutions for guests and operations. I can see small city hotels running automatically using only a housekeeping department. No reception, even no manager,” he says. This model may seem far fetched now but paying for a latte with the wave of your phone was simply an idea several years ago as well. Hotels like Yotel have succeeded with this model. Guests who are tech savvy relish in their ownership of the hotel experience. Yet, thinking that technology will take over all human interactions in a hospitality setting may not be where hoteliers envision the industry heading.
The way people interface with their technology is evolving daily it seems. We can speak our queries, use fingerprint and face recognition technology to unlock devices and set patterns to how we receive daily information updates. This is no replacement to the service a human interaction can produce. One thing is certain; how personal interactions and technology continue to blend to create memorable experiences for guests, patrons and members in the hospitality industry will continue to fuel innovation in an industry where modernization seems to trickle
This blog post has been written by Elliot for his website: HospitalityFaceToFace.com
After 20 years as a Hotel Executive, Elliot decided to follow his curiosity and passion to become a journalist for hospitality trends. Besides an avid explorer of everything hotel, he devotes his time to family and raising his five children. Elliot is 2 parts Hotel Executive, 1 part Journalist, 2 parts curious and all parts passionate about Hospitality. He is a devoted father who writes about trends in the hospitality industry; in that order.