Chatbot technology has improved rapidly over the past few years and is gaining in popularity across the hotel industry. However, some hotel owners are still unaware of what chatbots can actually offer, and how customers benefit from using them. In this article, you will find 10 specific reasons why every modern hotel needs its own hotel chatbot.
- What is a Hotel Chatbot?
- How Does a Hotel Chatbot Work?
- 10 Reasons Why Every Hotel Needs a Hotel Chatbot
- 1. 24/7 Customer Service
- 2. Increase Direct Bookings
- 3. Support Throughout the Booking Journey
- 4. Communicate in Multiple Languages
- 5. Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Opportunities
- 6. Personal Experience
- 7. A More Efficient Customer Experience
- 8. Reduced Burden on Customer Service Staff
- 9. Personalised Promotional Efforts
- 10. Follow Up With Your Guests
- What is the Future of Hotel Chatbots?
- What Are Important Features When Choosing a Hotel Bot?
- More Hotel Management Software Solutions
What is a Hotel Chatbot?
A hotel chatbot is a form of digital technology, which can respond intelligently to human interactions, and which can be deployed on behalf of a hotel, or any other business in the hotel industry. The purpose of a chatbot is to mimic the kind of meaningful interactions a customer might have with a real employee, usually through text.
In the majority of cases, a hotel bot of this kind will be used as a kind of digital customer service agent, responding to queries, providing useful information and even answering specific questions. The level of sophistication a hotel chatbot can deliver will generally depend on the underlying technology and the way it is used.
How Does a Hotel Chatbot Work?
On a basic level, a hotel chatbot works by interpreting or understanding customer interactions and providing relevant answers to questions, or relevant information upon request. Chatbots can be broadly divided into two types:
Rule-based chatbots are the most basic hotel bot type available. As the name suggests, these bots are able to communicate using a set of clear rules. This will usually be based around “if/else” statements. So, for example, a chatbot might be set up to ask: “Would you like to view our special offers?” If the user says ‘yes’, or selects a ‘yes’ option on-screen, they will be presented with special offers. Otherwise, another message may be displayed.
This kind of chatbot can be operated using labelled on-screen action buttons, with the user clicking the buttons to progress the conversation. However, more advanced chatbots of this kind operate by detecting specific words within what a user types, before displaying the next relevant message, based on the established rules.
The main benefit here is simplicity, meaning it can be extremely cost-effective. However, chatbot communication may be noticeably less natural than an interaction with a human, which can potentially be off-putting.
The alternative to rule-based chatbots is AI-based chatbots and these are significantly more sophisticated. Powered by artificial intelligence, they can understand written communication, interpret it and then respond appropriately, resulting in highly realistic chat interactions, similar to what a user might get with a customer service rep.
Some of the most advanced AI bots take this a step further, using machine learning to actually pick up information as they go and adapt their communication accordingly. This can allow a hotel chatbot to find out a series of preferences from a user, piece the information together, and make a smart recommendation.
AI-based chatbots offer far greater personalisation and result in more natural communication. They also tend to be easier for customers to use and machine learning results in continuous improvement too.
Below, you will find 10 specific reasons why chatbots have become a key part of many hotel management strategies.
1. 24/7 Customer Service
Modern customers have high expectations when it comes to customer service response times and this can be especially challenging in the travel and hospitality industry, where customers from all over the world may have questions and may ask them at different times. Hotel chatbots can help by providing 24/7 customer service.
2. Increase Direct Bookings
For those in the hotel industry, increasing direct bookings is a top priority. After all, hotels do not need to pay commission on these bookings, resulting in higher profits. A hotel chatbot can help with this, increasing the number of conversions on the hotel website by answering questions quickly.
On top of this, chatbots can also be deployed on social media and instant messenger platforms, providing options to book directly through that platform, or offering direct links to the main booking system.
3. Support Throughout the Booking Journey
A hotel chatbot can help to increase the number of bookings that are made and decrease the amount of bookings that are halted halfway through by offering helpful, personalised support throughout the entire booking process. Customers can ask the chatbot questions and ask for information, while the chatbot can encourage progress.
Chatbots can also be used at the very start of the booking journey, learning about what a particular user is looking for, how much money they are looking to spend and so forth, before making smart recommendations.
4. Communicate in Multiple Languages
Regardless of whether you use a rule-based or AI-based hotel chatbot, you can provide support for multiple different languages. This can be especially useful for hotels, because guests come from all parts of the world and employing staff with the necessary translation skills is not likely to be feasible.
With AI chatbots, in particular, translation becomes possible in an instant, meaning customers can receive responses to their specific questions, in their own language, regardless of the language they use.
5. Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Opportunities
Aside from helping to increase direct bookings, a chatbot can also provide a hotel with more opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell. This can also occur in a natural way, fitting in with what has been said in the chat, which can potentially increase the likelihood that a customer actually takes up these opportunities.
During the booking process, the chatbot might use the information gathered in order to push relevant additional options, such as breakfast or spa services. If a particular room is selected, a chatbot could make a recommendation for a room upgrade. During the stay, a chatbot could also provide live information about restaurant availability.
6. Personal Experience
AI-powered chatbots have the power to help hotels to deliver a far more personalised guest experience and this can start from before the guest has even started the booking process. As stated earlier, intelligent recommendations can be made either before or during the booking process, but this can also continue afterwards too.
By asking intelligent follow-up questions, a hotel chatbot can ascertain guest preferences and then continue to make recommendations like attractions to visit, things to do, car rental services to use, or places to eat.
7. A More Efficient Customer Experience
In addition to providing 24/7 availability for online customer contact, chatbots also have the power to enhance the overall efficiency of the in-person customer experience as well. One of the ways this can be achieved is by using a hotel chatbot to assist with the check in and check out process.
Using a mobile app and chatbot technology, it becomes possible for check ins and check outs to be carried out using a smartphone alone, with no need to visit the hotel reception desk at all, eliminating waiting times.
8. Reduced Burden on Customer Service Staff
In the modern age, customer service teams at hotels can easily become overworked. After all, they may be required to simultaneously deal with guests who want to speak to a customer service rep in-person, respond to queries and other contact through Facebook, Twitter and email, and process feedback from customer surveys.
A hotel chatbot can alleviate this pressure, providing rapid response times to reduce backlogs and actually sorting many of the most common or straightforward customer service requests, leaving staff to handle the trickier cases.
9. Personalised Promotional Efforts
Hotel marketing efforts often include methods like sending out marketing emails, yet these techniques do not always have high success rates. After all, many people will actively ignore marketing emails, even if they specifically ticked a box on a form to receive them. Part of the problem is they tend to be generic and repetitive.
A hotel chatbot can help to improve this situation by offering a greater degree of personalisation. For example, a chatbot message sent through a social media platform, or a chatbot message that appears on the hotel website, can lead to far more tailored, two-way conversation, which is more likely to generate a sale.
10. Follow Up With Your Guests
Hotels are increasingly seeing the value of following up with guests after they have checked out, in order to receive feedback. Chatbots are ideal for this, reaching out to guests across various channels, learning what guests liked and disliked, what improvements they would recommend, and what their overall perceptions of the hotel were.
Data or AI-driven chatbots can also make their follow up efforts personal and can provide further updates about the hotel itself, helping to generate the kind of customer loyalty that leads to repeat visits.
As chatbot technology continues to advance, it is likely that AI-based chatbots will be used in a greater number of customer touchpoints. This could mean that chatbots are deployed on the hotel website, on social media platforms, through the hotel smartphone app and within the hotel itself, using various digital devices.
While rule-based chatbots are likely to remain useful for the foreseeable future, the advantages of AI-based options are undeniable. As this technology becomes easier to work with and less expensive to implement, you should expect many rule-based hotel bots to be replaced by bots that benefit from this artificial intelligence.
As voice recognition technology continues to grow, and as users continue to become more comfortable using it, chatbots are likely to evolve to be more voice-based than text-based. In the future, one of the major developments is likely to be improved language translation through voice recognition, allowing anyone, anywhere in the world, to communicate with a chatbot verbally, be understood, and receive a reply in the language they used.
Chatbot technology has evolved rapidly and now forms a crucial part of many hotels’ marketing and customer service strategies. However, it is still unfamiliar to many hotel owners and the process of adopting chatbot technology can seem daunting, especially given the abundance of chatbot products available.
In the article “What Are Important Features When Choosing a Hotel Bot?” you will be able to find out more about how hotel chatbots actually work. Additionally, you will learn about the most crucial features to look out for when selecting a bot, including personalisation options and machine learning capabilities.
A hotel chatbot can be invaluable for hotel owners, offering rapid response times for customer service queries, improving the customer experience in hotels, and helping to make marketing efforts more personal and meaningful.
More Information About Hotel Management Software
Would you like to learn more about hotel management software solutions which can help you to grow your hotel business? In the following articles you find more information about the most important hotel management software for hotels:
- Hotel Distribution Channel Manager: What Are the Advantages?
- Revenue Management System (RMS): What Are the Advantages?
- Hotel App: Optimise Your Guest Communication, Experience & Revenue
- Hotel Management Software: What Are the Benefits for Hotels?
- RMS System: An Overview of the Most Important Features
- PMS Software: Which Software Integration Should a PMS Have?
- Hotel Software: The Most Important Software Solutions for Hotels