IHG claims to be the first in the industry to use a bot on Facebook Messenger. It began testing Facebook Messenger with a chatbot as a digital concierge at a handful of Hotel Indigo properties over a year ago.6 Many of the major hotel groups, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Starwood offer messaging services to fulfill guests’ instant requests through an array of platforms, from Facebook Messenger to WhatsApp, as well as using their native apps.
Hotels are “realizing the importance of messaging to building loyalty, increasing guest engagement, and enhancing the overall guest experience,” reports Skift.6 Since launching its WhatsApp and iMessage request services, Starwood reports a rise in revenue, and in particular, higher bookings of on-site restaurant reservations and spa treatments.
As digital self-check-ins become mainstream, hotels are looking to expand on their ability to customize guest communications and anticipate their needs. One approach is to send rewards members personalized messages that include self-service links, enabling them to take control of their own booking, check-in and on-property experience.
Expected to launch later this year, Marriott’s redesigned app will include real-time messaging called mPlaces, which will greet members with personalized hotel information and offers at the right time and place during their stay.7 For instance, when Marriott recognizes a rewards member typically works out during each stay, it could message the guest upon check-in telling them the location and hours of its fitness center.
Over the past 18 months, chatbots have made big advances in travel and event ticketing, and further development will enable them to handle more sophisticated and diverse tasks. Servion Global Solutions predicts that by 2025, “AI will power 95 percent of all customer interactions.”8 As 2018 approaches, two big tech trends to watch are a rise in the use of AI voice interfaces and more advanced, integrated deep learning capabilities. Together, these will help brands start to interact with their customers instantly in a more personal approach that reflects consumers’ preferences.
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1. “Smart assistants and chatbots will be top consumer applications for AI over next 5 years,” VentureBeat, 2016
2. “Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel on How Artificial Intelligence Will Make Travel Seamless,” Skift.com, 2017
3. “Airlines Put Facebook Messenger Chatbots to Work Answering Easy Questions,” Skift.com, 2017
4. “StubHub ‘Encouraged’ by Chatbot Returns,” TheTicketingBusiness.com, 2017
5. “Booking partnerships, Google and chatbots will define the future,” Eye For Travel, 2017
6. “How Smart Hotels Use Messaging to Connect With Guests,” Skift.com, 2016
7. “Marriott Reimagines Its Mobile App...,” Marriott.com, 2017
8. 2017 Radar Report, Sabre Labs