Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
8 Ways Hoteliers are Employing Virtual Assistants to Woo Customers
In today’s digital world, customers expect business owners and entrepreneurs to leverage the use of technology in providing top-of-the-line satisfaction and tech-driven guest experiences experience for customers.
Business outfits that fail to maximize these advancements in technology will see themselves falling behind more innovative brands. One way in which brands in the travel and hospitality industry are driving positive customer experience is through the use of a virtual personal assistant.
Virtual assistant solutions are becoming one of the bedrocks for guaranteeing superb, magnificent, and personalized customer experience for most business outfits today, so much so, Gartner predicts that by 2021, about 15% of business interactions with customers will be undertaken by virtual assistants.
Virtual assistants, powered by AI technology, make access to travel logistics, hotel reservations, and bookings a breeze. The growth of online virtual assistants is changing the way guests purchase and consume services in the travel and hospitality industry.
Basic, routine queries are now being handled by virtual assistants, thereby allowing company employees to focus on more demanding tasks. As a matter of fact, the virtual assistant market is expected to generate a whopping $15 billion in revenue by 2021.
Hyatt, one of the leading hospitality brands in the world today, saves as much as 4.4 million dollars annually by implementing an intelligent, conversational virtual assistant to improve its sales efficiency and overall customer experience. By automating and streamlining routine tasks for on-the-go travellers, Hyatt was able to provide its customers with cost-effective, time-saving, and revenue-generating customer service solutions.
Let’s now take a look at some areas in which brands and customers in the travel and hospitality industry are benefiting from the services of virtual assistants.
How Virtual Assistant support is impacting the travel industry.
1. Booking and Reservations:
On a daily basis, hoteliers and front-desk hotel employees are faced with routine, repetitive queries. It is common to come across basic questions such as:
● Are there any available rooms tonight?
● Can I bring my dog, she is well behaved?
● Will there be any extra charges for my pet?
● Are there conference facilities available in your hotel?
● What are your prices or rates per room?
Virtual assistants can be set-up to attend to most of the day-to-day repetitive inquiries, rudimentary work, as well as, other numerous administrative tasks faced by front-desk officers in the travel and hospitality industry. When virtual assistants are recruited to give smart answers to basic questions, employees and other front-desk officers can focus on more pertinent and productive tasks that will generate more revenue for the organization.
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With a smart virtual assistant, your clients can check availability of their preferred hotels, check airline schedules, they can make or change reservations, and they can also get a heads up as regards the cost of rental cars and prices of other services that they might want to use.
2. Meal suggestions and orders:
Guests can ask questions regarding available meals or meal ideas from virtual assistants right from the comfort of their hotel rooms. Guests can as well place orders for their preferred meal without leaving their hotel room. No need to reach out to a front-desk officer to ask basic questions or order a meal.
3. Room service requests:
Hoteliers can take the hassle away from front-desk employees by engaging a virtual assistant to deal with all room service requests from guests. Some hotels provide their guests with virtual assistant functions on their mobile apps that enable guests to request for basic room service needs and amenities. Guests can also ask questions and get answers through the use of virtual assistants.
4. Cab bookings:
With the help of a virtual assistant in your hotel, your guests can book a cab; they would not need to call the front desk officer. Uber car hire services are still not present in some countries, so intelligent virtual assistant services will really come in handy when guests need to order for a cab.
Some hotels provide virtual assistant services to customers by giving them access to a mobile app where they can choose the services they want with a tap of a button or with a voice command.
5. Itinerary/Travel planning and Logistics:
For vendors in the travel and hospitality industry, there is the challenge of providing your clients or guests with information as regards travel logistics in a way that is seamless and friendly to your bottom-line.
However, with intelligent virtual assistants powered by AI technology, stakeholders in the travel and hospitality industry can provide clients with all the travel information they need for travel planning, from take-off to check-in and even departure.
6. Concierge Services:
Virtual assistants can interact with your guests to provide streamlined concierge services for them. Virtual assistants can make personalized restaurant recommendations, handle registration of guests and check out, provide information on amenities that are available in different rooms in the hotel, book tours, and respond to other basic inquiries from your guests.
With the help of a virtual assistant, guests can also make inquiries about charges, request directions, and make necessary confirmation or cancellation of reservations on-the-go without having to contact a front-desk officer.
Employees, reservation agents, and booking desk officers in the travel and hospitality industry deal with answering a lot of repetitive, basic queries over and over again. But, with a virtual customer service assistant in place, most of these queries can be dealt with seamlessly, thereby allowing employees to focus on sales and other high-value tasks.
Best of all, brands in the hospitality industry can also automate their virtual assistant tool to collect valuable customer feedback and reviews on checkout. The importance of online reviews for the growth of business outfits cannot be overemphasized; this is why most individuals and agencies who are looking to hire writers today go to Online Writers Rating to check for reviews of quality writers.
7. Voice-activated virtual assistants in hotel rooms:
Virtual assistants are not only suitable for when guests are on transit from one place to another, but also during their stay in the hotel. While in the hotel room, guests would need so many things done. Voice-activated virtual assistant services can come in handy in this situation.
Guests can use voice-enabled virtual assistants to turn the TV on or off, change the light settings, set room temperature, and so on. All that a guest needs to do is to say the words literally in the hotel room, and they get a lot of things done.
8. Dynamic Hotel tours:
With the help of virtual assistants powered by AI technology, customers can get a feel of hotel buildings, rooms, and the surrounding environment even before they arrive. Potential customers can know what the hotel looks like before they book or make reservations.
In today’s digital age, convenience is king, and virtual assistant customer support services are already in use in some agencies in the travel and hospitality industry.
The travel and hospitality industry is witnessing tremendous growth, thanks to the rapid digital transformation going on in the industry. In 2016, the travel and hospitality sector worldwide generated an income of over 500 billion dollars. By 2020, income for the travel and hospitality industry is expected to reach a total figure of about $817.54 billion.
Moreover, Travelport, a travel commerce platform, processes as much as 12 billion searches and bookings made by travellers on a daily basis. This overwhelming amount of work and data processing associated with the travel and hospitality industry sheds more light on the need for agencies to begin to embrace tech-driven customer support in order to provide quality customer experience for users in a way that is fast, timely and cost-effective.
For one thing, through the use of virtual assistants, travellers can plan their trips more efficiently, customers can order fast food easily, bookings and reservations are easier, and the overall customer satisfaction and experience is even better. Employees can also focus on other equally important high-value tasks that directly affect the bottom line of the organization.
Not to mention the lower operational cost that agencies in the travel and hospitality industry will begin to enjoy as a result of automating basic tasks. With the overwhelming benefits derived from the use of virtual assistants in the travel and hospitality industry, agencies who fail to leverage this technological transformation will be left with no choice than to embrace the “adapt or die” principle.
Author — Ana Meyer
Ana Mayer is a freelance writer who is a qualified specialist in the field of digital marketing. She writes for different news portals and thematic blogs that helps her stay at the heart of the programming and technology news. Such work gives her the opportunity to write articles on the most relevant topics of today.