Introduction

Statistics indicate that over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app on their phone. The numbers are expected to rise to 3.6 billion by 2018. This indicates that messaging is bound to rise exponentially within the next few years, even more than social media.
Many industries are already making use of messaging platforms to attract customers and offer support services. The hospitality industry is a good example of one. A number of players in the hospitality industry already communicate with their clients via different messaging channels. As a result, the advent of chatbots is expected to change the entire hospitality industry by storm – and some hospitality companies have already started riding the wave.
So what are chatbots? Chatbots are specially designed programs which automate communication via chat. They are embedded onto messaging platforms and work by processing user input automatically then providing the best responses as per their request.

Given the fact that the hospitality industry is built around the customer, chatbots are poised to change the manner in which they conduct business for the better. Customers always expect swift and insightful communication whenever they are looking for a perfect hospitality company to serve their needs. Chatbots offer this exact solution. They allow customers to have their issues sorted out in real time with the adept professionalism expected from brands in the hospitality industry.
Chatbots and the Hospitality Industry
The hospitality industry is a customer-centered industry. The more the guests/customers they get, the higher their profits. As a result, different players in the hospitality industry have been on a rush to automate their processes in order to capture customer expectations. The few companies that have managed to automate all their processes have experienced quality increase in their services as well as improved bottom lines. One such automation is by making use of chatbots in customer support services.
The use of chatbots is termed as the next frontier in the hospitality industry. By offering instant responses and providing almost human support services, chatbots are expected to elevate customer experiences to a whole new level.

 

Bookings and Reservations

Companies which require bookings and reservations to be made are going to benefit highly from the use of chatbots. The bots provide a convenient and simple way for people to book flights, hotel rooms, tour guides and more in an easy to use platform. Some bots are also programmed to offer additional tips, insights or news which serve as marketing gimmicks to increase bookings.
Furthermore, many hotel chains are trying to reduce their dependency on OTAs (Online Travel agencies) by increasing the number of bookings made through their own direct, non-commissionable channels. The best way of doing this is by taking your presence directly to where your consumers are (which is on messaging apps) through the use of bots.

 

Use of chatbots in Restaurants

If there is a player in the hospitality industry who is bound to experience quality increase in customer services then it’s the restaurant sector. Restaurants need to engage with their customers directly in order to make more sales. Chatbots present a great solution to this.
They can help you advertise special meals, allow people to make reservations and enable customers to request deliveries in a single chat instance. Not only will the chatbots leave your customers satisfied but it will also help you have customer support services without having to incur on a lot of costs.

 

Loyalty and Guest Profiling

All brands in the hospitality industry always concentrate on having repeat clients. To win them, many players in the hotel industry usually try to create conducive and personalized environments for each of their clients. Chatbots are quite useful in this regard.
They can be programmed to interact with guests from the first time that they arrive on your premises until the last day. They can also suggest personalized experiences based on the customer’s data as well as past experiences with the hotel whenever a return client wants to book again. This gives your guests a sense of loyalty and belonging whenever they come into your establishment.

Marketing

Successful brands in the hospitality industry vouch on their digital marketing strategy as the core differentiator between them and other companies. As a result, more hospitality professionals have been increasing their digital and social media marketing budgets in 2017 as opposed to other preceding years.
Chatbots can also be used for marketing campaigns. Unlike other strategies, they provide a direct connection to consumers. The bots also use other information such as social media data as well as past user experiences to suggest relevant offers to consumers; all done without the intervention of hotel staff. This makes it a more effective form of marketing than any other channel.

 

Cost effective customer support services

Customer services are quite essential in the hospitality industry. Chatbots offer a cost effective way of dealing with your clients. AI chatbots usually become smarter by learning customer trends. This enables them to provide fully customized responses for every customer. Furthermore, they can also identify instances where they can’t offer the help required by the customer and are quick enough to transfer them to human customer care representatives.
So what does this mean for your brand? Chatbots can help you save up on your customer support budget and re-channel it to other activities that will help grow your brand. It will also help your staff to free up their desks and start concentrating on other pertinent issues while chatbots engage with potential clients.
Brand Marketing & Consistency
The hospitality industry is purely driven by brands. People feel more comfortable whenever they are dealing with established brands in the market. That is the reason why people are more concerned about other people’s reviews before they enlist your services.
Chatbots can help you maintain brand consistency throughout your marketing and chat processes. They can be programmed to give all you customers a similar perception about your brand. For example, if your hotel facilities have won a certain award in the hospitality industry, your chatbots can make use of this in their welcome messages. This subtle message can make a lot of difference when it comes to converting potential clients to paying clientele. Furthermore, the message will still linger in their subconscious mind and they are more likely to associate your brand with the message portrayed.

 

Integrated Systems

AI driven chatbots can integrate different systems into one platform. They can make orders from restaurants, give prevailing market rates for travel tickets, order taxis on the fly or make reservations for a safari, all while the user is still chatting on the interface. They can be programmed to be an all in one platform with payment support as well. This essentially makes it easy for people to get everything that they need from a single chat instance.
They can also make hotel stays quite comfortable. A guest need not look for front desk personnel in order for a taxi to be delivered or a bus tour booked. They can simply chat with the bot and have everything done seamlessly.
24/7 Customer Service
The hospitality industry is generally a 24/7 industry. Clients expect to obtain services no matter the time involved. Chatbots are programmed, meaning that they can run endlessly and still provide the same quality and efficiency to clients.

Conclusion

The chatbot revolution has just begun and a number of brands are racing to take advantage of the many benefits that are expected to come with it. Not only will they present a cost effective method for marketing and customer conversion but they will also provide an easy solution for communicating with clients.
In the hospitality industry, it’s not only about the services that you offer; it’s also about how you treat you customers.

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