What you need to know before launching a chatbot in your hotel
Launching a chatbot in your hotel is a good idea, for more than one reason. Chatbots are a way to drive direct bookings for hotels by making the information and reservation processes as easy as a WhatsApp conversation. Chatbots have a huge potential for hospitality and more and more hotels are adopting this new technology. However, hotel chatbots are not magical and if you want your chatbot to drive direct sales for your hotel, you need the right setup.
This article will help you answer 2 questions:
– Should you implement a chatbot in your hotel? (Yes/No)
– If yes, what are the conditions for your chatbot strategy to be successful?
Should I implement a chatbot in my hotel?
At Quicktext, we think that interaction is the new search. For us, chatbots are not a way to replace human service. Rather, they are a means to adapt to customers that are less and less patient and expect to have the right information delivered to them instantly upon request. More than 60% of your traffic comes from mobile devices, and mobile’s DNA is interaction. So, the first strategic challenge for you is to make all your static content dynamic and accessible on demand to impatient customers for whom it is very easy to jump to Booking.com or your competition. Hotel chatbots are the best answer I can think of.
The second challenge is that Internet traffic is more and more expensive. Hence, you can no longer afford to let 98% of your visitors exit your website without a booking. Moving from 2% conversion to 3-4 or 5% would be a huge win for you. Launching a chatbot in your hotel can help you achieve that goal.
However, not all hotels are ready to leverage chatbots to reinforce their e-commerce strategy. Chatbots need the right conditions to deliver value to your hotel.
Get the basics right:
- If your website has low traffic, you should work on improving your ranking prior to implementing a hotel chatbot. If you want to increase conversion, you first need customers. Hotel chatbots do not generate more traffic. They, in fact, drive engagement and increase conversion for customers that are already on your website, Facebook page, etc.
- Have a strong open booking engine. Your brand new AI-powered hotel chatbot can be excellent software. However, if your booking engine is unable to connect to your bot, it will not be able to show prices and availability and offer the possibility to book directly in the conversation. This is why, at Quicktext, we launched a crusade to connect our chatbot to as many booking engines as possible. That, and have the highest number of integrations compared to any other hotel chatbot so far.
- Have an existing direct booking strategy. Deliver the best offers on your website and have a price comparator. (My absolute favorite is Hotel Price Explorer by MMC. I like it because it puts together Price/Reviews/Hotel key selling points. This way your hotel website doesn’t look like a Christmas tree. Check it out here.)
- Have a person with a sales profile in your hotel. More often than I wished, I saw hotels where the staff was afraid to pursue leads that originated in the chatbot but needed some follow-up. It’s not a full-time job. Most often, a receptionist can do it without compromising his other tasks. You just need to find one that shows some salesmanship!
So, do you have all the basics already in place? Then yes, then you should consider launching a chatbot in your hotel to increase your direct bookings.
Making your hotel chatbot successful
If you want your hotel chatbot strategy to work, you need to start with the right expectations. Hotel chatbots are a means to drive customer engagement, especially on mobile devices where search is difficult. The successful answer rate you should expect is 80% after 1000 conversations. Which is already quite spectacular if you think that chatbots are closer to a calculator than to Einstein’s brain.
I never cease to repeat it but 50% of success is linked to how well you’ll fill your chatbot answers. (More on this here.)
Some hotels neglect to implement their chatbot on their mobile website and that is an absolute killer. Your chatbot has to be available everywhere, especially on your mobile website as most of your direct traffic is mobile.
You should also avoid turning off your hotel chatbot when you are away. I don’t know why some hoteliers put their chatbots to sleep at 7PM when they leave the office. Machines do not need to rest. Even if for some reason your hotel bot doesn’t understand a customer’s question at 3AM, you still have the request. That, and the name, the email address, and mobile number. So, this is a qualified lead that can be followed-up the next morning. Here is a detailed action plan that you can follow to maximize your sales through your hotel chatbot: Quicktext action plan.