Why AI is the puzzle piece hotels don’t know is missing

AI hotels

[Credit: Freepik]

Markus Feller, CEO at Like Magic, comments on the use of AI assistants in hotels to improve daily operational efficiencies. 

Careers in the hospitality sector are attractive for many reasons, but stability is generally not one of them.

Working in a hotel can of course be a hugely rewarding experience. It’s a demanding one, yes, but it also imbues a range of skills and know-how that will stand a person in good stead for the rest of their professional lives. However, for those who’ve had little to no exposure to their inner workings, it can be easy to overlook the trials and tribulations that rumble on behind the scenes without notice.

Even in some of the world’s finest establishments, the sight of a well-oiled workforce often masks the reality of a disgruntled and fed-up team. There’s no getting away from the fact that high levels of turnover are a problem across the board. And what this leaves us with is a self-perpetuating cycle, one in which the coming and going of staff is brushed off as simply part and parcel of working in a high-stress industry.

But the continued proliferation of AI in hospitality has what it takes to break this cycle – in fact, it’s inevitable.

Until relatively recently, it was really only the automation of guest messaging in which hoteliers saw the immediate value of AI. However, what was once unthinkable — extending automation beyond communications to other tasks and processes — has now become a reality for many early adopters. This is now enabling these operators to prioritise the needs, aspirations and general wellbeing of their employees, just as much as that of their guests. 

Think about it – what are some of the most common grievances staff have that contribute to them choosing to throw in the towel? Aside from poor management, they usually range from customer service challenges, long and unpredictable hours, workplace culture, and burnout. Other times, it’s the realisation that a significant portion of what was supposed to be a role centred on exceptional hospitality is instead consumed by monotonous and repetitive tasks behind a computer screen. However, all of these can be either solved or, at least, vastly improved with AI.

Incorporating AI into a hotel’s day-to-day operations is akin to providing every member of staff with their own personal assistant – a helper with an encyclopedic knowledge of the hotel, its guests, and the power to pre-empt what comes next – and then action it. This frees up an enormous amount of time and headspace for staff, so much so that it collapses training time for new employees down from eight weeks to just a couple of hours. The assistant takes care of everything in the background, silently monitoring all of a hotel’s systems, inventories and guest communications, alerting staff to problems while simultaneously providing solutions to them. If the air conditioning fails in room 115, the AI assistant will already be on the case by prompting staff to dispatch a maintenance team. If a guest hasn’t clicked a digital check-in link, the AI alerts the front desk and suggests sending a follow-up reminder.

Beyond fixing problems as they happen – and even preventing them from arising in the first place – AI, of course, has a big role to play in enhancing the guest experience. By analysing customer preferences prior to arrival, AI prompts employees to spend the extra time they’ve clawed back to go above and beyond in delivering an exceptional service. Whether that’s by ensuring a hypoallergenic pillow a customer previously requested is waiting in their room ahead of their next stay, or pre-allocating a space for their electric car – the possibilities for personalisation are greatly enhanced when AI does all the thinking for the staff.

But integrating AI into the day-to-day operations of a busy hotel isn’t like flicking on a light switch. Instead, its deployment must be tailored to both the specific sector and the nuanced preferences of its users – in our industry’s case, it’s employees and guests.

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