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Guest Post: The AI revolution is the future…

When someone mentions AI in hospitality, do robot waiters come to mind? If so, sorry to disappoint, but that’s been tried (and tried) and while it might be a bit quirky, operators (on the whole) have dismissed it as a non-starter… thankfully, it’s widely accepted that the human touch will always be required in most operations.  

However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to become a significant driver of innovation and transformation within the hospitality industry. AI can analyse vast amounts of data about guest preferences, behaviours, and past interactions (and potential future interactions) to create highly personalised experiences. As technology continues to advance, AI holds the potential to revolutionise various aspects of hospitality operations and guest experiences. 

Previous research by Zonal and CGA by NIQ, found that the majority of consumers (55%) think that striking a balance between human interaction and technology provides the best experience in venues. With this in mind, a new kind of guest is emerging – the tech-savvy traveller seeking a seamless, personalised experience. This isn’t a future fantasy; it’s the present, fuelled by the transformative power, firstly of the smartphone which changed forever our access to real-time services and now enhanced by AI. 

Personal touch = big results

While concerns about data privacy persist, customer expectations have shifted. Today’s consumers crave a personalised experience, and they’re willing to share their data to achieve it.

For years, retailers have successfully leveraged customer data to deliver targeted marketing campaigns. You wouldn’t bat an eyelid at Uber knowing your location, or Tesco anticipating your shopping needs. Hospitality is starting to catch up – particularly with the rise of AI, as this is ushering in a new era of personalisation, one that goes beyond simple product recommendations. This is the future of customer experience, and AI is the driving force.

By harnessing the power of AI and customer data, hospitality businesses can gain deeper insights into consumer behaviour. This eliminates guesswork and empowers employees to make smarter decisions. Predictive analytics, for instance, allows businesses to anticipate customer needs and demand and tailor offerings accordingly, driving capacity without having to discount to the bone.  

To add to this, it’s not only a certain demographic that’s receptive to personalisation, with operators often seeing older customers engaged while driving loyalty and repeat visits. Although they’re usually more cautious about data sharing, these customers are highly loyal once they find a positive brand experience. AI-powered tools like predictive modelling can analyse visit frequency and preferences, enabling businesses to personalise marketing efforts to make the most of this receptive demographic.

Beyond personalisation: AI’s broader impact

AI also goes beyond enhancing the customer experience; it also optimises revenue generation. Predictive modelling can forecast occupancy, allowing businesses to target potential customers at peak times. This empowers operators to maximise revenue by attracting the right customers at the right time. An example of this is how predictive modelling, based on historic booking data, can help operators attract customers who previously booked during similar periods. This strategy is the key to maximising reservations during peak times, ensuring optimal table occupancy. Whilst this kind of personalised marketing has been around for a while, the development of AI technology refines this approach, targeting specific users with information and offers that are most relevant to them – whether it’s a free pint of their favourite beer, or a complimentary round of mini golf – to provide them with the best in-venue experience possible. AI is set to build upon and enhance existing marketing technology, making it easier than ever before for operators to keep their guests happy and engaged, for longer. 

Understandably, many people worry about the ethical issue surrounding data and what you can and can’t do, and it remains a paramount concern. To build trust, businesses must ensure responsible data collection and utilisation. Ultimately, data sharing should be a mutually beneficial value exchange that empowers both businesses and customers. Operators need to make sure they are spelling out the value exchange; how the customer will benefit from providing their data. Whether this is a loyalty club, special discounts or giveaways, it’s important for operators to provide tangible benefits for the customer.

Looking ahead

In today’s competitive landscape, with recruitment challenges and rising operating costs, hospitality businesses are required to constantly adapt and remain ahead of the curve, and AI can lend a helping hand. It goes without saying that the field of AI is constantly evolving, offering exciting possibilities for the future of the customer experience. While it’s still early days, developments are happening more rapidly than ever before. As AI continues to develop, businesses that embrace this technology will be well-positioned to thrive.

Originally Appeared Here

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