According to the definition provided by Google, a chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the world wide web. It’s not at all a new fact to state that the chatbots have been garnering all the buzz these days, especially in 2017-2018. As a matter of fact, you see them in abundance in Facebook Messenger and also, these bots are deployed on websites for better interaction with the guests or customers (as we know that everyone is not present or available on Facebook at times!) But the pertaining question persists- What might be the reason for the sudden surge in chatbots?
And that too in the hospitality and tourism sectors! Why are these bots getting so popular? In reality, the purpose of a chatbot is to support and scale business teams in their relations with customers and redefine the existing guest experience. By doing this a hotel business can save loads of money which is why many business owners are adopting this technology and replacing the conventional human live chat agents.
And given the fact that these bots can be placed in myriads of platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, mobile application, SMS based or on your own website gives you the potential to reach a bigger audience without digressing. It is quite common that these chatbots (which maybe AI-based) may sound like a futuristic notion, but according to Global Web Index statistics, it is said that 75% of internet users are adopting one or more messenger platforms. Although research clearly reveals that each user utilizes an average of 24 apps a month, wherein 80% of the time would be in just 5 apps. This means a hotelier can hardly shoot ahead with an app, but they can still have high chances to integrate your chatbot with one of these platforms.
Having a chatbot on your hotel website or mobile app means that your guests can get on-demand and custom-tailored information in a natural and conversational way, 24/7 and in just one click, and the chances of losing a guest during the booking journey reduce considerably.
Okay! Now, let’s talk about the role and function of these chatbots in hotels and the hospitality sector. According to consulting firm Activate, 3.6 million users will be using bots and messaging apps to connect with hotels and other tourism & travel-oriented businesses by the end of 2018. In hotels, the consumer desire for the speed and accuracy of information which is greater than ever! An entire generation (millennial travelers) of guests prefer not to pick up the phone to reception or talk to a human being. And also, they’re not accustomed to waiting for someone to answer a simple question or to wait for something to be distributed. Here, chatbots can provide a single product solution, which addresses this type of guest across multiple different scenarios in multiple languages with very limited resources required from the hotel point of view therefore delivering a better experience whilst saving on staff costs. Many popular hotel chains are also incorporating chatbots to redefine their customer experience by engaging the guest in a better and effective way. Now, let’s see the top 8 hotels in the world that are utilizing chatbots in an avant-garde way and get inspired by their innovation!
1. Hyatt Hotels: Hyatt Hotels, which began using Facebook Messenger in November 2015 to answer guests’ queries, let them make reservations and check availability, uses its customer relations staff to help guests on the platform. Hyatt told in a seminar, “creating and deploying a Facebook Messenger bot is something that we will explore in the future.” Hyatt is an early adopter of a new form of customer service for hotels: using Facebook Messenger to connect with guests, because in today’s world, the key to being relevant is engaging with consumers on the platforms they are using (which is mostly social media)!
Hyatt was highly interested and partnered with Conversocial, a Facebook marketing partner, to test the app as a new customer service channel. With Hyatt, for example, people can make reservations using the app, or they can simply engage in a live chat with the Hyatt team to ask free-form questions, like whether there is availability around particular holidays or about any ongoing offers including hotel’s amenities.
Mr. Moriarty, GM of Hyatt International told in a conference, “Messenger allows for transaction receipts, confirmations, shipping updates, and other important messages as well as basic actions to take place all within a single conversation, which gets delivered directly to a customer’s phone and eliminates the hassle of digging through emails or remembering website passwords.” Long-story-short, the bot installed on Facebook Messenger assisted Hyatt to boost their sales, hotel bookings, and solving customer query.
2. GRT hotels: GRT Hotels & Resorts are one of the leading chains of 4-star hotels in southern India and they have a huge customer base; the issue with them was quite simple- how to entertain the guest and boost their existing customer experience and engagement. For all these, they were looking for a self-service solution where they can resolve guests queries immediately round the clock even beyond business hours without having to increase their sales executive.
GRT added GReaTa chatbot powered by Trilyo on their website across all their pages. Instead of making a phone call or waiting for customer service to email them back, visitors are talking to GReaTa and getting immediate answer to their query. GReaTa has exchanged over 175k messages in just 2.5 months; and a whopping 84% guest shared their email IDs & mobile number out of which over 40% of them had a booking intent leading to a potential revenue of INR 240k in just 7 days.
Also, their customer experience was improved to a great extent and the brand emerged as more relevant than ever. It started attracting more millennial travelers and the chatbot used to stay with all the guests from pre-booking to post-stay. The chatbot also has an inbuilt CRM platform for remarketing to customers and a loyalty-building program so that the guest will always come back to them for better services and experience.
3. Marriott Hotels: The Marriott International's Aloft Hotels brand tested a robotic butler called "Botlr" in the late 2017 as a way to aid and assist all the front desk associates to respond more quickly to guest queries and demands. Earlier this year, the brand introduced a whole-new generation of Botlr that takes the form of a chatbot instead of a robot and it’s known as ChatBotlr; it's available via text message to the guests & allows them to make service requests directly from their smartphones -- anywhere and anytime when they have a need.
The guests may ask ChatBotlr to have toiletries delivered to their room or to give them a wake-up call in the morning, to answer questions about the hotel's amenities, or to connect them to Aloft Hotels' music playlist and loads more.
According to Marriott, the early findings about ChatBotlr shows that two out of three Aloft guests are interacting or making requests with ChatBotlr, and that the service has a five-second response time. “By embracing emerging messaging technologies, we can expand service to our guests on their terms and through communication channels they increasingly prefer and feel comfortable using,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. “The delivery of on demand service enables Marriott to simplify travel, remove friction and power up even better service for our guests at more moments throughout their travel journey.”
According to trusted sources, Marriott Rewards members on Facebook Messenger and Slack can research and book travel at more than 4700 hotels, link their Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, plan for their upcoming stay with articles from the digital magazine Marriott Traveler, and chat directly with customer engagement center associates. Marriott’s always-on approach to customer service enables the company to deliver the widest choice of engagement whether that is through messaging, call centers, or face-to-face on property with associates. By leveraging technology, a hotel can deepen personalization, expand choice and connect to other associates with the guests in a more meaningful way, as the hotel lead the next generation of the guest experience.
4. Hotel Casanova Venezia: One of the most popular hotel chains in Venice is Hotel Casanova Venezia and they are using a chatbot deployed on their website from Hoperator, a chatbot building platform for hotels. Mr. Damiano, COO of Hotel Casanova said, “After the bot came into picture, the sales and hotel bookings were off the charts and the bot assisted us to make our brand more relevant than ever.” He also added, “The bot is very nifty and is able to resolve numerous guest queries at a time and also, it acts as a digital concierge service for the guests in-room. This bot helped us to improve our guest experience and finally, we were able to engage the guests in a better way without breaching their guest room privacy.”
Talking more about Hoperator, it is a complete sales and concierge platform trusted by hotels, vacation rentals, online travel agents, corporate travel managers, hostels, B&B’s and tour operators around the world. With this, you can monitor and intercept leads in real-time with highly targeted, custom messages.
According to Mr. Damiano (when he was particularly asked about the bot, said), “Hoperator is the only messaging platform that combines powerful sales and concierge features with real-time, multi-channel messaging. It not only works similar to the messaging apps you use every day but is designed to fit within the workflows of any travel and hospitality business just like ours. It aids you talk to your website visitors, convert them to customers and engage with them pre, during and post stay to help ensure that their experience is the best.”
5. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: In January 2017, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas introduced Rose, a sassy and smart chatbot that delivers customer service to guests via text message. "Rose is a virtual VIP host with a witty personality that helps guests have a better time while they're in Las Vegas," Senior Director of Digital, Social, and eCommerce Mamie Peers told last year in a hotel conference that took place in Las Vegas.
According to Mr. Peers, a guest can text Rose to instantly receive restaurant and bar recommendations, have amenities like extra pillows delivered to their room, play games, or even receive guided tours around the resort, whose concierges and guest services staff handle requests submitted to Rose behind the scenes. "Whatever the guest wants is what Rose is able to deliver," Peers continued. "She fulfills needs quicker than it would take you to probably dial a phone number; it's one of the most convenient ways to get extremely fast service.”
Mr. Peers further added, “Once we designed the unique voice of Rose, over 1,000 conversation threads were created to offer guests ways to book experiences such as restaurant reservations, spa treatments, event tickets, and spontaneous adventures like self-guided art tours. To help drive guests to bars and clubs, Rose gives them insider information, like secret menu items, and offers to help increase spend on the property.” Generally, all hotel guests are introduced to Rose by receiving a card with their key at the registration desk, and are encouraged to ask Rose for anything during their stay (which is pure fun!)
Most of the recommendations Rose provides are for the five bars and 20 restaurants which are located inside The Cosmopolitan, where all hotel guests are treated like VIPs and often don’t have to wait in queue or pay additional entrance fee to its popular Marquee nightclub. In addition to providing restaurant and bar recommendations, Rose can also play few games, such as Kiss Marry Diss, Would You Rather, or Two Truths and a Lie. It can also take you on a tour of the hotel’s art collection! “We wanted to create a spirited personality that reflects the mystique of The Cosmopolitan,” says Mamie Peers, the project manager who worked with Chicago-based digital marketing agency RGA to create Rose.
6. Accor Hotels: AccorHotels' Mercure brand prides itself on creating properties that are firmly rooted in their local destinations (which if you ask me is great!) It launched a chatbot named Mercure Bot, in 2017 in order to help guests discover those destinations. This bot is based inside Facebook Messenger. The Mercure Bot renders digital concierge service and also make conversations with guests help them discover local gems. In order to make the bot work, a guest must first turn on location services from their smartphone, then search for "Mercure Bot" inside Facebook Messenger. From there, they can simply ask Mercure Bot what they should see or do nearby, at which point the chatbot will commence a conversation that helps them discover their surroundings.
"Offering a hotel experience anchored in a specific locality is the very essence of the Mercure brand and its venues. Everything from design to food is geared towards helping guests grasp what makes a city tick and providing inroads into the history and hidden treasures that form the identity of a place," AccorHotels explains. "But only a bot is capable of memorizing the full range of stories from so many places around the world. This handy tool will enable travelers and neighborhood residents alike to discover the local stories that surround them, simply by geolocating and allowing themselves to be guided."
Mercure will use the bot to offer its customers the possibility of getting to know the city they’re visiting in a unique and authentic way. All users need to geolocate and ask the bot what’s worth a look nearby, and then let themselves be guided through the conversation. The bot is also aimed at local communities wishing to rediscover their city or neighbourhood. Users themselves can enrich the experience and ideas contained in the local stories over time. Inspired by the finds prompted by bot, they will in turn be able to share their own recommendations. Programmed in a humorous and straight-talking way, the Mercure BOT can answer various queries such as, “What’s behind the facade of 145 Rue Lafayette?”, or “Where is the world’s smallest nightclub?” and other homologous questions.
7. Hotel Indigo: Another hotel brand utilizing Facebook Messenger for its chatbot platform is InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Hotel Indigo. The "Neighborhood Host," as its known, is available to guests after they book a reservation at participating hotels, at which point they receive an invitation to engage with the bot. Those who do can ask for details about their reservation, seek recommendations for hot spots in the neighborhood around their hotel, and make special requests for their stay.
"We want travelers to interact with Hotel Indigo the same way they do with their friends, so introducing our digital Neighborhood Host on Facebook Messenger was a perfect way for us to better connect with them through one of the world's most used platforms," explained Lara Hernandez, IHG's chief commercial officer in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa (AMEA) -- where three Hotel Indigo properties are currently testing the bot. "By cleverly and accurately serving up recommendations tailored to each stage and purpose of travel, these interactions will add value to every guest's experience. This chatbot technology strengthens and complements the existing personalized guest service provided on-ground at each of our hotels, allowing us to better anticipate and meet the ever-changing needs of travelers today."
Chatting with Hotel Indigo’s digital Neighbourhood Host is as easy as starting a chat with anyone on Facebook. Simply select “Message” on the respective hotel’s Facebook page to begin the conversation. On-ground at each property, guests staying at Hotel Indigo can also start a chat by scanning a QR code on their access cards or at the front desk. The chatbots are currently available in English and there are plans to include other languages including Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, among others, in 2018.
8. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: Most hoteliers are embracing chatbots so that their business and hotel bookings can skyrocket exponentially. Case in point: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, which last fall launched Four Seasons Chat, a digital service that guests can use to send and receive instant messages with property teams before, during, and after post-stay. Consider it the "smart-bot." Like most other chatbots, it allows guests to ask questions, submit requests, and otherwise interact with hotels via text message -- which includes the Four Seasons app, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, or SMS. Unlike chatbots, however, the platform is powered by humans instead of artificial intelligence.
"Human connection may be the single most important element of the Four Seasons guest experience," said Four Seasons President of Worldwide Operations Christian Clerc. "There are no chatbots here. Four Seasons Chat ensures guests have access to our people at any time, for any need. We continue to evolve our service offering to incorporate digital enhancements that are powered by people, to facilitate and strengthen personal connections, and to ensure guest expectations are met and exceeded every day."
Four Seasons Chat is equipped to translate more than 100 languages efficiently and in real time, according to Four Seasons, which promises "best-in-class response times … in minutes, if not seconds." In a pre-launch pilot program at 30 hotels, it reports, more than half of guests introduced to Four Seasons Chat leveraged the service on their first stay, and most used it more than six times during a stay.
So, now you know which famous hotels are using a chatbot, how are they using it, and the benefits they are getting out of it. It’s never too late! Schedule a demo and we will tell how to integrate a chatbot on your website and boost your revenue and sales exponentially. Pick a slot and our team will reach out to you within 24 working hours.