UK: Hospitality and living operator The Ascott Limited has launched a generative AI-powered chatbot named Cubby in test-bed stage at properties in the UK.
The chatbot has been named after the Ascott’s mascot – a koala named Cubby which has been used in previous marketing campaigns.
Guests will be able to use the chatbot Cubby when booking at The Cavendish London and the Ascott’s Citadines brand, which has aparthotels located across London in Barbican, Holborn/Covent Garden, Islington, South Kensington and Trafalgar Square. It will also be available for use at Quest in Liverpool.
Cubby will provide information regarding accommodation recommendations, tourist attractions, shopping suggestions and more, including health and safety information, visa requirements, and travel budgets. It can also generate personalised itineraries according to a user’s input that can be customised and amended depending on the length of stay and travel preferences.
The tool will support Ascott’s live agents whilst they respond to complex enquiries.
It has been developed on Microsoft OpenAI and Azure Services, and leverages real-time data from Bing search and Ascott’s global website.
Currently in its testing phase, The Ascott aims to eventually deploy Cubby in a multichannel strategy with improved language capabilities. This would allow Cubby to respond using the guest’s preferred language and communication platform.
Tan Bee Leng, Ascott’s managing director for brand and marketing, said: “An exciting quest of learning and discovery begins as Ascott takes its first step into the future of personalised travel exploration with the pilot launch of Cubby, where innovation meets warm and cuddly hospitality.
“Cubby, with its AI prowess, taps into a vast treasure trove of data, enabling fast analysis of travel preferences, trends, and recommendations; from suggesting hidden gems to tailoring itineraries that match specific areas of interests. As we journey alongside our valued guests in this shared adventure of experimentation, every interaction with Cubby is set to unlock a realm of limitless possibilities in AI-driven travel planning. Ascott is dedicated to nurturing Cubby’s growth, empowering it to deliver more personalised and engaging experiences with each interaction.”
Other tech enhancements being piloted at Ascott include self check-in kiosks equipped with facial recognition in Singapore, as well as natural language processing AI for sentiment analysis of feedback and reviews.
Leng added: “From computer vision to natural language processing, Ascott recognises the pivotal role of AI technology in shaping the future of travel experiences. The adoption of generative AI tools to create advertising campaigns has provided us a shorter time-to-market, and the development of a chatbot has deepened our level of engagement with guests.
“Our commitment to equipping our associates with knowledge and expertise in AI is not merely an investment; it’s a pledge to future-proof Ascott and create a new paradigm of personalised engagement with our valued guests. Embracing AI humbles us in the face of technology’s vast possibilities, empowering Ascott to learn, adapt, and evolve with the times, so that heartfelt hospitality and cutting-edge innovation can harmoniously intertwine.”