Mobile technology has become a game-changer on the corporate travel scene, offering seamless and empowering experiences for travellers by putting greater control in the palm of their hands. The latest mobile applications are not only restoring personalisation in hotel stays, but also enhancing the way travellers manage their trips.
Digital age shaping hotel service
Spurred on by the tech-savvy market of 18 to 35 year-old 'Millennials', hotels are embracing mobile technologies to understand their customers better and engage with guests in a way that makes their stay more enjoyable than before.
According to IHG Chief Information Officer, Eric Pearson, "It's a complex, fast-changing world we live in. You have to react to the consumer changes and the technology that's driving it. It's no longer the big beat the small. it's the fast beat the slow. You've got to react in real time as consumer demands and their preferences change" (IHG@ Skift conference 2015).
The next generation of hotel interaction
Through the use of digital technologies, smarter hotels can learn more about their guests by seeing how they interact with the hotel's services. facilities and special offers. Using this data. they can ensure every detail in their room is exactly the same next time they stay and help keep that guest coming back. Hotels with a social media presence are also responding to guest feedback and addressing any issues promptly.
Hotel chains such as IHG, Hilton, Starwood, Accor and Thistle, as well as a growing number of independent properties. are now offering mobile-oriented services to connect with their guests on a more personal level.
Business travellers can now use their own devices to:
- 1. Check in, select and customise their rooms, and check out
- 2. Receive welcome back messages on arrival at the hotel
- 3. Open their room door
- 4. Access concierge and front-desk services from anywhere in the property
- 5. Order room service in advance of their arrival. based on their preferences, and by simply texting reception
- 6. Adjust the room temperature, air conditioning and lighting, and change television channels
- 7. Run their own selection of in-room entertainment using the likes of Netflix or Apple TV
- 8. Receive hotel bills and make digital payments. using their mobile device as a virtual wallet.
Chatbots transforming hotel engagement
As mobile technology sets new directions in customer service, innovators in the hotel and travel management sectors are adopting chatbots to digitally transform the way they engage with customers at every touchpoint.
How it works
The chatbot is a computer program that replicates human interaction by using artificial intelligence techniques. Effectively replacing the role of a call centre team, a chatbot provides the automated voices encountered on phone calls or the responses received to questions in 'online chat' sessions with services companies. With Facebook now integrating chatbot technology into its Messenger service and building its voice recognition capabilities, hotels and travel management specialists are beginning to use it as a way to raise the bar on service interaction and immediacy.
Chatbots are providing instant service, information and updates through this new breed of chat-based, concierge-style applications to help further simplify the customer's stay. In hotels for example, guests can use chatbots to conveniently message or text the hotel for whatever they need, whether it's a room service order, an extra towel or information about local restaurants. This highly intelligent technology also comes with the backing of 'live assistance· from hotel staff, should a guest prefer to speak with personnel direct.
Chatbots are providing a fun and personalised way for hotel guests to enhance their stay and engage with hotels, which now have the ability to build a stronger understanding of each customer.
Meet Edward - the virtual hotel host
A number of leading hotels have set the pace with their early adoption of chatbot technology. These include Edwardian Hotels London, which has introduced 'Edward', a chatbot that gives guests immediate and easy access to a self-service concierge. Available at 12 Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotels across the United Kingdom, Edward allows guests to simply text the hotel's 'virtual host' for anything from room service to amenities, information on nearby entertainment or assistance with complaints.
Edward responds within seconds and provides both automated and staff-assisted concierge services to guests as required. This artificially intelligent chatbot is delivering exceptional experiences for guests who prefer digital brand interaction.