Statistics show the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide from 2005 to 2018, by region. In 2018, there was a growth of 48% compared to 2010 and 75% compared to 2005.
In order to ride this growth, the Hospitality industry must continue to innovate and transform to overcome challenges of increased competition by optimizing productivity, getting processes to work smarter, and ultimately growth profitability.
Innovative and transformative solutions hold the promise of transforming the industry-technologies that will change the very essence of the business- people and processes. Technologies that will enable data analytics towards sustainability without compromising on guest comforts.
According to an Oracle study, today, 82 percent of hoteliers cite the ability to capture data that can be used as actionable insights. These can improve the guest’s journey at various touch points and drive enhancements.
Here are some ways in which Intelligent Automation in Hospitality is and will continue to reshape the travel industry in years to come.
How is IA automating Guest Journeys?
Booking.com – Tailored Advice
Recent research conducted by Booking.com found that almost 29% of the global travelers are comfortable, allowing a computer to plan their upcoming trip based on previous travel history. 50% of those did not have a preference for a real person or a computer.
Based on this research, Booking.com created personal booking assistants powered by an AI chat platform. The system gathers information about what a customer likes or dislikes, learns, and makes tailored recommendations. A conversational user interface enables the first line of support. Using the AI chat functionality, the Booking Assistant promptly answers queries and requests about existing reservations, property policies, and common stay-related questions. If the Booking Assistant doesn’t know the response, it redirects communications to property owners or to Booking.com’s Customer Service Team to assure a response.
Hilton – Helpful Host
Hilton wanted to revisit its entire travel experience to make it enjoyable for the guests, besides being easier and smarter.
Connie, named after Hilton’s founder Conrad Hilton, was introduced as the robot concierge. It used the computing power of IBM’s Watson and travel database to make recommendations to guests about local attractions and exciting sites.
Stationed at the Virginia hotel, Connie learned to interact with guests and respond to them in a friendly manner. Connie used a blend of Watson APIs, including Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech, and Natural Language Classifier, to let it to welcome guests upon arrival and to respond to questions about hotel amenities, services, and more details. The more guests interacted with Connie, the more it learned and improved its responses.
Hilton believes that with personalized recommendations and insights through a medium like a robot, it can look at transforming its brand engagement and loyalty.
How is IA impacting process efficiency?
IHG: Tasting Prudence
IHG is one of the world’s leading hotel companies with over 6000 hotels and a presence in almost 100 countries.
Every hotel works with different Online Travel Agents to receive bookings. At IHG, the commission services team that dealt with this had a very manual process. The process entailed checking the inquiries, moving back to the contracts, cross-checking across multiple systems like Salesforce before authorizing to pay the commission.
Robotic Process Automation was deployed to enhance a rule-based process and impact a higher return on investment. Here is where IHG incorporated BluePrism RPA to improve their operations.
As a result, travel agency inquiries that took 20-30 days to respond to, on average, were answered within seven days — the inquiry processing time reduced from a thousand hours to fifty-five hours.
The key benefits being that the responses were accurate and consistent and adequately addressed within the first time, reducing back and forth.
World Hotels – Rate Monitor
World Hotels has almost 500 affiliate hotels in more than 250 destinations and 65 countries worldwide. The group offered its hotels’ distribution technology and attached a global brand to such individual hotels.
While the hotels are all high-quality hotels, not all hotels have access that is required for all the high-quality systems to stay competitive. World Hotels offered its hotel management systems that needed to be used to update rates and inventory—however, this process required to be audited.
Much manual effort was required by World Hotels to provide an overview of the process to the management.
Blue Prism, a leading Intelligent Automation product, had been set up to automatically audit hotels and sent reports to the hotel and World Hotel’s account manager as an attachment. The rolling audit was set up in a way to complete all the hotels audited over 28 days.
The automation brought about a significant reduction in operating costs, without causing any change or impact on their existing systems. It also reduced pressure on existing resources.
How is IA impacting Hospitality solutions?
AI-powered Revenue Management: Raise the BAR
Flights and hotel inventory is a perishable commodity. Dynamic pricing is practiced for rooms in a hotel or seats on a plane to monetize the available inventory effectively. One empty spot on a flight sector is lost money, or an empty room for a night is lost revenue.
Revenue Management effectively studies supply and demand to price rooms intelligently and impact revenues. It has the complex task of understanding consumer behavior, considering market conditions and demographics to create a dynamic rate strategy.
With time, next-generation Intelligent Automation technologies like machine learning can define the revolution of revenue management systems. The difference between legacy and next-generation revenue management systems will be led by automated revenue and rate distribution.
Machine learning entails building and training statistical models using data inputs to classify input items or forecast output continuous values. Data science can screen multiple data points, variables like competition pricing and demand, and supply patterns to predict future price movements.
Today, Trivago and Makemytrip have started the use of Intelligent Automation. Their systems screen through the swamp of data points, variables, and demand and supply patterns to recommend optimized travel and hotel prices.
Automated Rate & Inventory Uploads:
Even today, across a range of hotels, revenue managers, front-office managers manually update rates across their Property Management System. And a Channel Manager if their technology stack is not integrated with the PMS.
Robotic process automation/ Intelligent automation in hospitality can mimic human actions. It can, thus, take an intelligent price feed using machine learning. Post that, utilizing an RPA process populate rates across the PMS or Channel Manager to distribute rates and inventory seamlessly.
The entire process freeing Revenue Manager for higher-level tasks like collaborating with distribution partners, focus on growth strategies, and manage exceptions for intelligently automated revenue management systems.
Is there enough Room for the Robots?
Intelligent automation in hospitality is revolutionizing the hospitality industry and changing the way hoteliers work. By 2025, many emerging technologies today will be mainstream. Robotic Process Automation will alter the hotel booking process and guest journeys in specific ways. Biometrics will enhance security; virtual assistants will be an integral part of the booking process, and robots will bring us breakfast.
Beyond robots brewing coffee, Intelligent Automation can streamline daily processes, predict trends, optimize their bottom line, and much more.
Intelligent Automation investments can cut through costs, have an impact on enhanced revenues and impact occupancy and revenues.