There was a time when Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the domain of Hollywood movies, a technology deemed too futuristic for day-to-day use. Then came Alexa, Siri and the smart home revolution. AI and machine learning are now transforming the way businesses operate and playing an increasing role in B2C interaction. This is true of all industries, but it’s growing impact on hospitality and travel is particularly noteworthy.
Indeed, Condé Nast recently discussed how hotels are using AI to improve the guest experience, noting;
“From concierge robots to personalized rooms to lively chatbots, your next holiday may include help from some artificially intellectualized friends.”
But how are hoteliers using AI to improve their processes? How can it be used to evaluate the vast volumes of data generated online each and every day?
To better understand the growing use of AI in hospitality, we spoke to Jose Canelos, Senior Manager, Digital Product Development at Leading Hotels of The World.
Jose will be discussing ‘Authenticity and AI in the Age of Social Influence’ at WBR’s Digital Travel event in Las Vegas on April 30th, along with Damien Mahoney, Co-Founder and CEO of Stackla. Not booked your ticket yet? Hotel Speak readers can save 25% on attending!
Jose, please tell us a little more about your background and current role at Leading Hotels of the World?
I am a Digital professional specializing in Product and Project Management, I work to bring digital strategy and design to life through technology. As the Senior Manager of Digital Product Development at LHW, I am responsible for the revenue optimization initiatives for LHW.com as well as introducing innovative technologies to enhance the user experience for our customers and hotels.
So, in an industry rooted in human-to-human interaction – how do you feel AI and automation fit in?
There is a lot of opportunity for AI and automation to add an extra level support to the high touch interactions within the travel and hospitality industry. For example, AI can assist a guest in narrowing down search results for hotels and provide the best options prior to reaching out directly to speak to a human. This creates efficiencies and assists in also learning more about the guest to service them better in the future. As for automation, it takes a similar path, reoccurring tasks can be automated so there can be a higher focus on key human to human interactions without having to worry about the smaller items that can be automated. Both of these technologies can support the internal business process and the customer facing process.
We noticed that you’re speaking alongside Damien Mahoney, Co-Founder & CEO of Stackla at WBR’s Digital Travel conference. How has their AI powered, machine learning, technology helped LHW to monitor and engage with social content?
There is so much social content with no signs of users slowing down in sharing experiences. Stackla’s AI Powered, machine learning helps us narrow down our focus to social content that aligns with our goals and brand by removing content we are not interested in. This technology frees up time from curating thousands of pieces of content and helps us be more efficient to focus more on the experience for the user with this content. We expect that we will unlock further opportunities with this technology.
Beyond personalising, and improving, the guest experience on LHW’s digital channels, can you share the commercial benefits achieved through machine learning technology?
We have seen a 33% efficiency increase in managing social content. It was important to have a defined strategy to execute from the beginning with our Stackla partnership to ensure success. We have also seen conversion lift from other machine learning technology we leverage on our digital channels. The technology has allowed us to merchandise our product in a more personalized fashion.
Finally, the recent scandal with Facebook (and the imminent introduction of the GDPR) has brought data privacy into the limelight – do you think this will affect what consumers share on social media in the future?
I believe consumers will still continue to share content in mass on social media even after the recent incidents. Where there could be an impact is the use of cross-channel log in, like Facebook or Gmail login, on multiple platforms. Consumers may be more aware now that when those features are used, you are unlocking all the data the main providers have and they share with whatever product you are logging in to. I suspect customers are going to be more sensitive with the information that is shared and provide the bare minimum around profile data. This will impact the business in a different way but from a social media perspective, I think we are past the point of slowing down the sharing.