Developing AI to improve services and the guest experience is not just a question of applying cutting edge technology, it’s also about listening, reacting and predicting customer needs and preferences more precisely. Knowing the economic and social characteristics of the target audience and then dissecting that information further using national, cultural and age factors will help to implement an AI strategy that is more closely aligned to economic and regional demands.
The key to this process will be knowing how much information target audiences are prepared to share. Based on our own findings*, generally travellers are willing to share their food preferences and their travel preferences with the hotel and its partners. Chinese upper-class leisure travellers are much more open to sharing private information such as their hobbies, geolocation during travels, job description, social media profiles, access to personal mobile applications, as well as access to their personal photo gallery.
In terms of the type of AI technology travellers would like to see, the possibility to experience a pre-stay virtual tour of the hotel and room using virtual reality (VR) is fast becoming a top preference, allowing prospective guests to visualise the hotel, exploring individual rooms, and searching for nearby attractions in an immersive and interactive manner. However, if we analyse global demand, age is an important factor, with older travellers in Europe preferring the use of VR, whereas the reverse is true in China with VR being more attractive for younger Chinese travellers. This suggests that both cultural and purchasing power differences need to be factored in when deciding which technology to implement and when. As well as VR, customised recommendations for nearby activities and real-time pricing.
Analyse engagement points
A key change that digital innovation has brought to the hospitality industry is the ability to interact and engage with guests at a greater number of points along the trip planning journey. In most sectors, AI is already used to analyse which points provide the most interaction with clients. The hospitality industry has to use this technology to analyse engagement points with guests and therefore increase the level of engagement required accordingly. Providing such continuous engagement is also an important part of fostering a more direct relationship with customers as non-traditional intermediaries and challengers step into the hospitality space.
Creating additional value is key to drawing the attention of guests and strengthening their loyalty. Setting up branded communities is one way hotels can use AI-powered smart technologies to provide more customised social connections with fellow residents. AI, used in a predictive mode, is a very powerful tool to personalise the services provided but also to maximise client satisfaction and ensure they will visit again. This approach can also significantly increase the amount of exposure the hotel receives through interactions within the community itself and other social media platforms.
With digital innovation reliant on gathering data and high levels of customer engagement, we expect trust to be high on the agenda. We believe that understanding the level and amount of data travellers are willing to share will be crucial in securing that trust. To support this strategy, Mazars can help companies implement clear and transparent processes on how data is stored and used, which will be increasingly important going forward.
To learn more, please download our Mazars 2018 Global study on AI in the hospitality industry “Artificial Intelligence: A Game Changer in the Hospitality Industry”