We know that today’s young people are more interested in experiences over ownership— for most, a trip abroad is more valuable than a house or car payment (I can speak to that personally–I boarded more than 25 planes the summer after my college graduation). It’s not only the millennial age group wanting to see the world either—more and more people of all ages are traveling, both domestically and abroad. In 1989, just 3 percent of Americans owned a passport. Today, that number has increased to more than 40 percent. As the prices of airline tickets fall and companies like Airbnb and VRBO offer alternatives to hotels, it’s far easier for people to save and spend on traveling. With the influx of travelers looking for the best deals, e-commerce travel businesses have been using artificial intelligence, or AI, to create better online guest experiences for travelers. Some of my favorite companies are using this innovative tech to create better online experiences for their guests, whether they’re skiing in Colorado or sipping champagne on the Great Wall.
Connie the Robot Concierge
In 2016, Hilton released an AI-powered concierge nicknamed Connie that would assist customers at their McLean hotel in Virginia. Connie assists customers with restaurant reservations, car pick-ups, room-service requests and more. The bot is powered by IBM’s Watson system and could understand and reply in more than 10 languages, and can provide text-to-speech or speech-to-text Q&A. The purpose was to free up other hotel staff to be able to serve guests with a better experience.
KLM Airlines is using a Facebook messenger extension to cater to customers on mobile. Their AI bots answer guest questions quicker than traditional messaging and offer a better digital experience for on-the-go travelers. Their mobile strategy provides an opt-in bot plugin that allows travelers to see their booking confirmation, flight status, check-in, baggage information and more. Providing all of this information, right on their mobile phone where they can access it easily loosens up the strain on customer service agents so that KLM staffers can help travelers with more complex issues.
Dorchester Collections, a hotelier with locations in Paris, London, LA, and several other large cities around the globe, implemented an AI-bot that scanned reviews online to report on what should be fixed within the hotel chain. The bot was able to read thousands of reviews from online companies like Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Yelp to identify and report on what the guests were writing about. Through one report generated by the bot, Dorchester execs realized that several guests were complaining about the breakfast selections at a specific location and opted to change the menu, and saw the difference.
This kind of learning through AI is what will set travel companies apart and create better experiences for guests in a world where bad experiences are often broadcast across the internet. Need a few more ideas on how to get started with your creating a better mobile guest experience? Check out this infographic.