Travelers “want to be engaged, heard, empowered and delighted by hotels.” They want and demand the highest customer service experience at every interaction, whether it’s checking in and out, ordering room service, or getting extra pillows delivered to their room. COVID-19 has also introduced new consumer expectations — most notably, the demand for touchless contact.
Although most people haven’t been traveling in the last year, this will likely change as more of the population gets vaccinated. Hospitality companies need to be prepared to capture and retain this business when it happens. Hotels can achieve this by using voice AI to provide contact-free hospitality while delivering a top-notch customer experience.
Offer Smart Hotel Rooms That Drive Customer Satisfaction
According to Statista, 4.2 billion digital voice assistants were used worldwide in 2020. The number of digital voice assistants is forecasted to increase to 8.4 billion by 2024 — a number exceeding the global population. With increasing use of digital voice assistants as the main point of interaction with smartphones and home devices, consumers are now demanding similar experiences in their everyday lives, like when they stay at a hotel.
With a “smart hotel room,” guests can control much of their experience through AI-enabled voice devices. Smart hotel rooms combine “AI and voice recognition technology to integrate virtual assistants into [the guest experience].” With this transformational technology, guests can use voice control to get personalized assistance, such as requesting the thermostat be turned down or asking for directions to the on-site gym. Guests can speak naturally in their native language because AI understands different languages, accents, dialects, and slang, which results in a more seamless guest experience.
Due to COVID-19, more consumers prefer touchless interaction. “In fact, 62% of consumers expect to increase their use of touchless technologies once this crisis subsides.” Smart hotel rooms not only reduce contact, but also make it easier for guests to settle right in and have a comfortable stay.
According to Oracle’s Hotel 2025 study, a typical hotel guest spends 12 to 15 minutes trying to figure out how to operate the thermostat, TV, lights, and other controls in the room. A voice-activated solution can quickly solve this frustration for guests. According to the same study, “78% of hotel operators said voice-activated controls for lights, air conditioning, and room devices would be mainstream or in mass adoption by 2025.”
And what do guests say? According to Oracle’s study, “59% of consumers said that voice-activated controls for lights, air conditioning, and room devices would enhance the guest experience, [while] 36% would stay more often if offered this service.” With hotel rooms evolving into a more personalized experience for travelers, voice AI helps hospitality companies personalize and improve the consumer’s experience.
Provide AI Concierge Services to Scale Customer Service
In addition to smart rooms, hotels can offer AI voice-enabled concierge services. Guests can interact with virtual agents to book an appointment at the spa or get a restaurant recommendation, for example. When AI handles the mundane, repetitive requests, front desk personnel can better handle more complex needs or focus their time on creating personal relationships with hotel guests. Additionally, voice-enabled agents can respond quicker and ensure more accurate responses, reducing the cost of human error.
As the world recovers from COVID-19, there’s pent-up consumer demand for travel. However, hotels are facing a difficult situation. They don’t know when and to what extent the demand for travel will return, and they need to meet that demand with reduced staff and budgets. Being able to efficiently and quickly scale customer service is more important than ever. Using voice AI, hotels can serve more customers with the same amount of resources and scale customer service up or down as demand fluctuates. AI can respond to any number of calls, ensuring every customer is immediately helped and doesn’t experience a wait time.
The new customer service model for hospitality is not a thing of the future. It’s here now. By incorporating voice AI into your customer service strategy, hotels can enhance the customer experience while driving efficiency to keep guests coming back for more.