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Hoteliers want – yet fear – robot-run future

Research shows that hoteliers know artificial intelligence is the key to guest personalisation.

Hoteliers fear a future where their properties are run by robots, yet they also believe that artificial intelligence may be the key to delivering a highly personalised guest experience.

This is the paradox outlined in a white paper by SiteMinder, a cloud platform for hotels, and IDeaS, a provider of revenue management software solutions and advisory services.

Although robots can never replace genuine hospitality, they can decipher big data to learn about guests faster than humans, leading hoteliers concede in the research, part of which was conducted at a thought leader breakfast held during World Travel Market London in November.

One reason for the sentiment, thinks Monica Or, consultant at the Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy, is the recognition that guest preferences have become more sophisticated over the last 25 years with the growing accessibility of digital technology.

“Hoteliers desperately need to get on board with the technological advances that we all, as consumers, are seeing and experiencing on the day-to-day,” she says.

“Guests today are more tech savvy, so what they have in their homes they now expect in the hotels where they stay.”

Hoteliers suggest that AI could best enhance the guest experience through tailored pricing during the booking process, voice and face recognition on arrival and 24/7 customer service during the stay.

According to participants of the study, the future of hospitality should be one that combines technology with a human touch to create an enjoyable but authentic experience.

Integrating data
The unexpected challenge, according to the research, is that many hoteliers continue to overlook the fundamental importance of integrating their systems to gain the insight they need into their guest data.

“Hotels have a wealth of guest intelligence at their disposal. They have the opportunity to understand and analyse every point of the guest experience – and to make more innovative, more informed decisions. But they need information to flow seamlessly through their systems in order to make it work,” says Ruairi Conroy, managing director EMEA at SiteMinder.

“There is a clearly identifiable trend within the hospitality sector of leveraging technology to maximise both performance and the guest experience,” adds Fabian Specht, EMEA managing director at IDeaS.

“While inevitably there will be IT challenges that will need to be addressed, artificial intelligence will play an ever-increasing role in delivering bespoke services to guests – just as it does in other consumer-facing industries.”

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