The Case for Chatbots in the Hospitality Industry
by Amit paul
Industries that rely heavily on customer engagement are finding new and exciting ways to engage with customers. In the hospitality industry, personalized interactions with customers are key to setting a company apart from the others. In order to provide personalized experiences, hospitality staff must get to know their customers and learn their preferences. While it seems like this would take a lot of in-person interaction with the customer, companies are finding ways to digitize this process to save time and money while still providing exceptional personalized services. Chatbots are one way that companies in the hospitality industry are changing the landscape of the customer service experience.
Today, many consumers prefer the ease of mobile communication like instant messaging to get the information they need. This is true when planning travel as well. Chatbots provide businesses in the hospitality sector the ability to offer around-the-clock assistance that assures a pleasant experience that results in customer satisfaction and continued loyalty.
From simple to more complex tasks and information, chatbots can provide customers with a wealth of information. From answering simple questions like “How much is a room for Saturday night?”; to helping guests make plans via personalized, guided assistance; to offering guests perfectly timed upgrades and add-ons, chatbots can customize a guest’s travel experiences while not costing the business any additional money or time.
While initially it may seem counter-intuitive that guests would prefer self-serve options to get their questions answered or that it would be easy to offer personalized service via chatbots, the data shows differently. Data shows that customers prefer to engage with self-service platforms if the platform can offer instant answers or results. Consumers demand quick answers and resolutions, and if businesses can provide that to them and create an exceptional service environment, they are more likely to spend more money with that business, be a repeat customer, respond to offers, and refer others.
Self-service options that chatbots provide also benefit the companies using them. Research shows that companies investing in digital technologies that enhance customer experiences experience sustainable profitability. Digital interventions in customer service are shown to cost 98% less than service experiences that require human intervention. Investing in innovative digital platforms that can serve customers on demand are critical for businesses in the hospitality industry looking to increase profitability and guest satisfaction.
On top of providing top-notch customer service, chatbots also continue to give companies valuable insights into customer behaviors and preferences. Businesses will have this information at their fingertips 24/7. They can also give businesses an idea as to where there may be opportunities for improvement. For instance, if the same questions about a particular service arise, or a complaint arises again and again in the chatbot environment, businesses can easily track that information and take steps to rectify the situation across the board or make it clearer in their policies.
While the possibilities for using chatbots in the hospitality industry are numerous and provide exciting opportunities for companies to better serve customers, use of chatbots in the industry are lagging. The potential, however, is incredible, and hotels, airlines, and restaurants should look deeper into the many benefits of chatbots and conversational engagement. There are immense benefits both to the customer as well as the company’s reputation and finances.