Tame Your Hotel Guests. The Alternative to Mobile Apps Is Here.

The real reasons why hotels need chatbots, instead of mobile apps.

(Image courtesy of Storyblocks)

The guest - hotel relationship is shifting in times when hotels want to establish strong long-term relationship with their guests in order to improve decreasing revenue per guest. How can hoteliers get closer to their customers when guests are becoming more disinterested in hotel services and more interested in using external booking services such as AirBnB?

The solution: a chatbot for your hotel.

Chatbots Are In. Mobile Apps Are Out.

Around 65 percent of consumers today say they’re more likely to make a purchase on mobile-friendly websites and so hotels that don’t have a strong mobile approach are ultimately losing guests and revenue, said Fig Cakar, managing director, the Americas for SiteMinder.

The mobile market is resetting and all hotels — big and small — have another chance to win back their guests, be closer to them, serve them better and increase revenue. What is more, customers will be happier at the end.

This is because of chatbots — automated conversational agents — which can be trained to serve your hotel and guests in the best possible way. Chatbots work on mobile phones, in Facebook, on your webpage, through text messaging. Yes, everyone can access your chatbot through their mobile device, without the need to install new apps. Did I mention chatbots can be multilingual?

Yes, chatbots are capable to elevate your relationship with your guests to a memorable experience, because:

Booking.com, TripAdvisor, AirBnB and the other accommodation and travel rating portals have found a quite successful way to wedge themselves between hotels and guests. Here is what they charge:

Guests Can Book a Room In Your Hotel Faster Through Your Chatbot (And Save)

Bot Demo

Yes, accommodation booking portals and travel review sites increase the final price by at least 15%! Instead of going to booking portals, hotels want these 15% to stay within their property and to increase the revenue per guest. Chatbots can help hoteliers claim some of these 15% back and pass them on to their guests.

Booking a room from a chatbot is not much different than booking a room from a website, however a chatbot can do so in a simpler and more streamlined way while providing users with a much more personalized experience along the way, such as “Do you prefer softer pillows?” or “Do you want us to pick you up from the airport?”

Hotels that already use chatbots are seeing a minimum of 15% increase in bookings after the introduction of their conversational agents.

Guests Can Book Activities From Your Hotel Chatbot

Everything said about reserving a room above is also true for booking off-property activities. Very similar to a real concierge, your chatbot can allow your guests to book off-property activities, while passing the savings from the fees that a travel website would have charged to you, effectively increasing your revenue per guest.

Guests Expect Personalized Experiences Immediately. Chatbots Can Deliver Them.

Guests expect to be treated as priorities and want to get the most out of their stay in the hotel. With guest-focused chatbots, hotels can increase guest engagement, drive loyalty, offer on-property, off-property and in-room services, as well as drive new revenue, and guests love it!

Did you know that the use of chatbot services at Marriott has grown 85% month over month? WOW! Here is another one: a whopping 40 percent of guests begin communicating with the Marriott hotel before they even arrive at the hotel! Double WOW!

The definition of timeliness has also evolved from a customer standpoint — customers now expect 24-hour service and an almost instant response to any enquiry they have. Chatbots solve this problem as well , because they are available 24/7 and respond right away.

Guests Demand Hotels to Resolve Their Requests Right Away. Chatbots To The Rescue.

76% of customers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them, according to a global consumer report. This means that guests have preconceived expectations about their stay at a hotel, and if they don’t match the standards they set in their own life, there’ll be problems.

The chatbot can serve as a receptionist, room service and technician at the same time. It can be trained to answer questions like:

  • “What is the Wifi password?”
  • “When is the shuttle to the airport tomorrow?”
  • “I want a pepperoni pizza delivered to my room”
  • “What sports channels do you offer?”

With proper set up, the chatbot can handle at least 30% of your service load, 24/7, while replying instantly. If the chatbot couldn’t understand the guest query, it can pass the conversation over to a human for further handling.

Hotels Need Reviews and Ratings. Chatbots Can Automate Both.

Hoteliers know that the primary reasons for a guest to chose one hotel over another are location, price and rating. If your hotel has a chatbot, collecting reviews and ratings becomes extremely easy, because most chatbots support “push notifications” which can be used to reach guests after or during their stay in order to solicit user feedback . These reviews can be stored on your website or pushed to bookings and review sites, thus increasing your chance for new bookings.

Chatbots Beat Both Email And Newsletters

When it comes to marketing and engagement, I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 84% Open Rates for Your Campaigns BabyCenter (part of Johnson and Johnson) saw a 84% read rate and 54% click-through rate after introducing its chatbot.
  • Customer Satisfaction Up By 22% By using a chatbot, Globe Telecom increased customer satisfaction by 22%, decreased call volume by 50% and increased employees productivity by 350%.
  • 40% Higher Customer Interactions KLM, the airline giant, added a chatbot as a new entry point for customers to receive flight information, resulting in a 40% increase in customer interactions, while increasing Net Promoter Score (NPS).
  • Customer Service. Automated. Swedbank introduced a chatbot to reduce the time staff spent on taking calls from customers. The chatbot achieved an impressive 78% resolution rate. Estonia’s e-Residency digital program automated 45% of their service with a single chatbot.
  • 40% Increase in Reservations GRT Hotels & Resorts — one of the leading 4 star hotel chains in southern India — achieved 40% increase in new reservations in just 2.5 months.
  • Bot Retention Rate Is 2x Better Than Mobile Apps When it comes to retention, BI Intelligence reports that bots are beating apps by a factor of 2, because chatbots have the advantage of being transient, frictionless and with low barrier to entry (no download or sign-up needed)

Chatbots Are Much Simpler To Create Than Mobile Apps. And Are Simpler to Maintain Than Websites.

Let me address this itching question last: creating such guest experiences in a chatbot is not as hard as developing a mobile app, nor as time consuming as updating a website. Maintaining the chatbot is also cheaper than hiring a developer.

There are many chatbot agencies/companies which can help you create such chatbots for hotels. I will go into more details on how to decide them in part 4 of the series, but if you are eager to hire one today, here are the basics:

  • Make sure that the chatbot they’ll create is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Many agencies create keyword-based, i.e. “dumb” bots which fail in the conversation. Users hate these;
  • Make sure that the chatbot agency/company offers interface which you can access and which will let you update and train the chatbot when you need to. Otherwise maintenance could become an issue;
  • It is also advisable this company to support message broadcasting for reaching your guests.

Thankfully, creating and maintaining chatbots is not a rocket science for some companies any more. One of these companies is Thinsters — a chatbot company that helps hotels create chatbots and increase revenue per guest.

Riyaz Nizar

⚒ In Constant Beta Phase: Learning, Improving, Evolving ✎ CTO http://thinksters.org ! #DigitalMarketing company devoted 2 helping businesses.