Part 2: for hoteliers
The development of hotels in the metaverse is only a matter of time. Soon Metaverse will be as normal as a website, a PDF brochure, a presence in a catalog or a Google ad.
In the same way that the best hotel websites won’t offer anything without high-quality professional photos (as opposed to the one made by the receptionist with their iPhone), a certain number of prerequisites will be necessary for the presence of a hotel in the metaverse…
Hotel avatars: AI dedicated to hospitality
The ascent of hotel avatars
You don’t search information in the Metaverse, you interact with it!
In the metaverse, you don’t have screens to search the content you have to interact with it through an assistant aka the hotel avatar.
Your avatar is going to be the cornerstone for your Hotel Metaverse experience and manage thousands of personalized interactions every day.
Among other things your hotel avatar will need:
- Access to APIs to enable the execution of tasks such as recognizing a loyal guest, suggesting activities, performing an online check-in…
- Strong conversational intelligence which will trigger your avatar responses.
Impact of Metaverse in hospitality: From hotel chatbot to hotel avatar
Avatars will be based on the accumulation of experience and conversations from today’s chatbots.
Note that we are talking about 3rd generation AI chatbots for hotels like Velma based on a specific NLU (natural language understanding) dedicated to hospitality linked with structured data and an experienced team to supervise the machine learning.
Metaverse is all about realistic/immersive experience so Avatars will need to develop lifelike expressions, gestures, lip-syncing (to sync with speech), emotions, etc.
Voice AI will also play a significant role and progress has to be made to recognize all kinds of voices and accents.
Structured data in the hospitality industry
A hotel currently needs about 2000 data points to cover frequent requests about the property, such as the temperature of the pool, the price of the babysitter, the height of the parking lot or the location of the electric car charging station, etc.
Hotels need to improve data structuring as even today most receptionists are not able to answer everything and some of this information is easier to get via Booking.com, Expedia, etc. In other words, OTAs are competing with hotels for information that the hotels have given them for free and that they do not have in their own systems. Sad but true.
Hotels need to wake up and start leveraging AI and structured data NOW as search engine algorithms such as BERT (Google) already reward structured data in search results.
The future of Technology : PMS and Hotels in the Metaverse
What qualities of PMS (Property Management System)should be existing in a Metaverse configuration? As we have seen, hotels will have to manage a completely new set of products and services. Moreover, these will likely evolve continuously.
Let’s get directly to the conclusion, which is that the PMS of the future will have to be open cloud and totally flexible, i.e. built on independent racks (microservices) based on open APIs.
In case that will not be, it is better to stay away, because any small change will be difficult, time-consuming and probably cost a fortune.
From booking engine to e-commerce
Booking engines as we know them will have to face several challenges. It will no longer be about selling rooms, as complicated as that may be, but also about selling products, managing NFT ( Non-Fungible Token), selling services, selling subscriptions and of course renting an infinite number of virtual rooms.
Booking engines, if we can still call them such, have to make massive transformations in the future to match the evolution of the current e-commerce systems.
At this rate, we can predict that some hotels will sell more in the Metaverse than in the real world.
Hotels in the Metaverse : CRM and the deep customer knowledge
Customer relationship management (CRM) could be a powerful ally for hotels. It’s the fuel for successful hotel marketing, allowing hotels to achieve profitable operations through a lot of targeted marketing and deeper relationships with guests, groups, and corporate clients.
Before going for deep customer knowledge, the first step would be to get some knowledge. Today many hotels still do not have a proper CRM.
The second step: connect your CRM to all potential information sources in order to create a complete and consolidated B2C or B2B customer profiles. In particular, integrate it with PMS and POS as an additional layer, and thus enable customer-centric, data-driven processes and decision making.
The third step: configure it to be able to keep track of data, manage privacy, scoring, loyalty programs, reputation and business intelligence, but above all to be able to measure operations.
And finally, what will this CRM be used for in the Metaverse? Until now, a hotel would use it to follow a customer throughout his journey (pre-stay, in-stay, and post-stay). A journey that at best would represent a room rental, a reservation at the restaurant, consumption at the bar, etc…
Imagine the power of a CRM for a customer who will use not only physical goods but also digital goods* (courses, shows, art, etc). Such a variety of services multiplied by an exponential number of customers will force hotels to become more structured very quickly in the field of customer relations and therefore in the control of their CRM.
* Digital goods or e-goods : are intangible goods that exist in digital form. (Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_goods).
In conclusion, The presence of a hotel in the metaverse will be based on the following five prerequisites:
1. An Artificial Intelligence based on a strong NLU dedicated to the hotel industry;
2. Extremely well structured data;
3. A flexible and open cloud PMS;
4. An e-commerce system including the existing booking engine functionalities;
5. A CRM designed to simplify and automate large volumes of sales (real & virtual), operations, and data management.
Here again, it is not necessary to wait until the last minute to get started. Many of these features are already requirements in today’s world!
The most complicated will always be the resistance to change.
We have not addressed the issues related to monetization (NFT and cryptocurrency), privacy, addiction, etc. This will be the subject of the next article for geeks, stay tuned.
You can also see our part 1 article to have a complete overview of opportunities of Metaverse in hospitality.