Need an AI-powered upgrade to your hotel? Here’s your primer.
by ANTON SAFONOV and MICHELLE SESSION
In the heart of the Big Apple, Marriott’s flagship property, the New York Marriott Marquis, witnessed a transformation. No longer were guests solely reliant on human concierges or front desk staff for recommendations or basic queries. Instead, they had the option to engage with ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot, right from their smartphones. This wasn’t just about Marriott embracing technology; it was about enhancing the guest experience, making it more personalized and efficient.
Artificial intelligence isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the linchpin of innovation across industries. And if there’s one sector that stands to gain immeasurably, it’s hospitality. The recent HTNG guide on AI validates this sentiment. It highlights that hotels tapping into AI can unlock improved operations, unparalleled guest experiences, and significant cost savings.
However, diving into the AI realm isn’t about chasing a trend. It’s about strategic transformation.
DEFINING YOUR AI ASPIRATIONS
Jessica Chen, lead hospitality technologist at travel tech consultancy FirmFutures, explains, “AI is not a plug-and-play technology. Hospitality brands need to introspect, assessing their data infrastructure and overall readiness before venturing into AI.”
The HTNG guide concurs. It underscores the importance of clarity. What do you envision for your hotel with AI? Is it about streamlining room service orders? Or perhaps it’s about predictive analytics to forecast room bookings?
For instance, consider a 116-room limited-service hotel. Here, an AI chatbot seamlessly managed 1,238 guest requests, liberating staff from mundane tasks. The outcome? A staggering saving of more than 500 hours annually!
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
But dreams need a tangible foundation. As you sketch your AI goals, it’s imperative to craft a robust business case. Dive into the nitty-gritty – vendor contracts, tech investments, staff training, and more. But also, step back and envision the broader picture. How will AI enhance guest loyalty or boost your brand’s image?
Case in point: Global hotel chain Arvoia. They didn’t just implement AI; they revolutionized their guest’s online experience. The result was a whopping 7.3% surge in direct bookings in a mere eight weeks. This translated to an astonishing $500,000 in additional revenue.
PREPPING FOR PRIMETIME
Selecting an AI tool is just one piece of the puzzle. The real game-changer is the data that powers it. Kevin Harrison, VP of hospitality solutions at vendor Anthropic, cautions, “Dirty data equals dirty results.” The roadmap is clear: audit data sources, cleanse inconsistencies, and ensure your AI system receives a gourmet meal of clean, structured data.
Such meticulous preparation has its rewards. Accor, one of the world’s leading hotel operators with more than 5,000 properties, stands as a shining example. In their journey of digital transformation, they’ve implemented AI-driven solutions to optimize various operations. From enhancing guest experiences through personalized recommendations to streamlining backend processes using AI analytics, Accor has showcased the transformative power of AI. Their commitment to innovation has led to quicker response times, better guest insights, and a redefined approach to hotel management efficiency.
As we stand on the cusp of this AI revolution, one thing is clear: The future isn’t just about embracing AI; it’s about reimagining hospitality. The question is, are you ready for this transformational journey?
Anton Safonov possesses nearly two decades of experience in multi-unit hotel operations. As co-founder and chief strategy officer at Aquarius Hospitality Solutions, Anton assists hotel clients in embedding sustainability and wellness into their operations. His experience with major hotel brands shows his commitment to service quality and profits. Anton advocates for women in hospitality through his work with Hertelier, underscoring his commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a US Navy Veteran with a B.S. in hospitality management, Anton drives positive change through his passion for learning and operational excellence. He is also a HTNG consultant member of American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Michelle Jensen Session brings more than 15 years of hospitality experience as principal of Kensington Investment Group and co-founder of Aquarius Hospitality Solutions. Her expertise spans strategic planning, budget management, sustainability, and staff development. Michelle championed diversity and inclusion initiatives at UC San Diego, receiving the Diversity Champion award. She is an AAHOA HerOwnership member committed to advancing women hoteliers. Michelle facilitates training on leadership, HR, and environmental sustainability. Her passion for service excellence and community drives her work.