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Smart-Room and AI technology are Gaining Popularity

Staying current with the ever-evolving technology landscape is a challenging task. In the hotel world, smart-room and Artificial-Intelligence (AI) offerings are making huge leaps as companies test new ways to improve service and operations.

Since rolling out its Connected Room in 2017, Hilton has continued to evolve the concept based on guest and owner feedback. With a primary focus on convenience and creating hyper-personalized experiences, Hilton guests can manage almost every aspect of their Connected Room from one device — either the Hilton Honors app or the in-room wall control. And, Hilton foresees infinite potential for future customizations.

“Because the concept is a platform, much like an Apple or Android mobile device, we can push new features, apps and functionality to existing devices without the need to deploy additional hardware,” says Joshua Sloser, SVP of Digital, Hilton.

The Connected Room’s learning capabilities allow Hilton to not only enable additional guest experiences, but operational efficiencies as well. For example, if a Connected Room is taking longer than usual to reach the guest’s desired room temperature,
a notification will be sent to the engineering team.

Hilton is also able to use its smart technology to gather valuable energy-consumption data. “[The rooms] help us achieve our aggressive sustainability goals, while at the same time ensuring we improve our guests’ experiences,” says Sloser.

At Red Lion Hotels Corporation (RLH), AI technology is being put to work in contact centres, where guests are connected to its AI virtual agent instead of waiting for a live agent.

“Most guests just need an answer quickly,” explains April Weatherly, director of Telephony Optimization and Analytics at RLH.

When calling the help line, customers first select a hotel before being transferred to the virtual agent. They can inquire about everything from whether they can bring their dog to how far the hotel is from a specific attraction.

“As long as the question [guests] are asking exists in any of our systems, [the AI] will smartly match that question back to the customer,” says Weatherly.

RLH spent six months modifying and enhancing the virtual-agent technology ahead of its pilot this spring. The service has since been rolled out to all 1,400 RLH properties in North America and Weatherly’s team is analyzing adoption rates and identifying the point at which customers no longer tolerate AI.

The applications for these technologies go beyond customer experience. Expedia utilizes an AI bot that allows hotel owners to analyze traveller data.

“Imagine that, instead of an experience that gives you the insights and actions via words on a screen, it comes to life in a human video bot to guide you through them,” explains Rebecca Creegan, director of Market Management, Expedia Group.

The avatar can even be adjusted to take on the gender, accent and physical characteristics that make the experience most comfortable for the user. Accessible through the Expedia Group platform, the AI concierge’s primary function is to provide insights and recommendations based on marketing trends, competitor analysis and customer feedback.
For example, if a hotel’s breakfast is getting three-star ratings, it will search customer comments to find the cause and make a recommendation. And, if competitors suddenly adjust their rates due to an upcoming compression period, the concierge will notify owners and suggest they do the same.

Written by Shelby O’Connor

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