Artificial Intelligence is the ability of computers to imitate intelligent human behavior that can include the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience. In hospitality, over half (56%) of consumers believe AI can help economic growth and also elevate poor customer service. Since investing in technology, including Artificial Intelligence, Domino’s Pizza global sales has nearly doubled from $5.5 billion in 2008 to $10.9 billion in 2016.

Credit: IBM

“There is a clearly identifiable trend within the hospitality sector of leveraging technology to maximise both performance and the guest experience… Artificial Intelligence will play an ever-increasing role in delivering bespoke services to guests – just as it does in other consumer-facing industries,” says Fabian Specht, EMEA managing director at IDeaS Revenue Solutions.

38% of consumers agree that AI can offer a “superior one-to-one personalized experience”, and 59% of travelers say their hotel stay is significantly more comfortable if services are personalized. Artificial intelligence allows for personalization because it can take requests, read requests and deliver requests without human interaction. For example, Hilton announced that it will soon allow guests to upload their own artwork and photos to automatically display in their room, as a way of customizing their in-room experience.

 

Business execs believe these AI-powered solutions have the biggest impact on their businesses. Credit: Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Less repetitive tasks for workers also means more time to personalize the guest experience. Mundane tasks like paperwork, booking & scheduling can be done through AI and free up time for event planning, dinner booking and handwritten notes to guests.

Robotics, as a part of artificial intelligence, has taken hold in different forms at restaurants. Global pizza chain Domino’s has tested drone delivery service in New Zealand, and more prominently, robot pizza delivery in Europe. The robots deliver to customers within one mile of the stores, using technology similar to self-driving cars. In addition, restaurants in San Francisco are getting creative with their use of robots. At Zume Pizzeria, robots perform low-skill tasks like spreading the sauce on the pie and putting them in the oven, and the robots deliver food right to the table via a conveyor belt at Gen Korean Barbecue.

It is worth sharing that artificial intelligence in the hospitality sector has been widely debated because of concerns of job loss and usability. 35% of consumers said their biggest concern with AI customer service was loss of human touch. Others also simply don’t  like technology, or particularly don’t like when technology is more difficult to get things done when a human can easily help. “We also have to remember that technology is only one aspect of what our guests are looking for. It’s giving them the choice to reach out to us to get the technology when they want the technology, but also enabling and freeing up our colleagues to give them the human experience when they want it” says Elie Maalouf, CEO for the Americas at InterContinental Hotels Group.

The right way to leverage artificial intelligence in the hospitality sector is to make it a compliment to human interaction. A hybrid service run by AI that also gives access to humans is the best way to leverage this technology in the hospitality sector.

Credit: Pricewaterhouse Coopers