What does digital transformation means for hotels?

Posted on Nov 30, 2018

We missed the first digital wave. We don’t want to miss the second. A hotelier told me this recently.

The Internet took the world by surprise. Almost everybody underestimated how much the web would disrupt hotel sales and marketing, but it seems that hotels have learned their lesson and are getting ready to face the next disruption: MOBILE.

Mobile is not only a device; it is a mindset that has set new customer expectations. The 2 complementary elements of a mobile first e-commerce strategy are personalization and interaction.

Personalization

Customers have so much choice these days that it has become overwhelming. If you want people to choose you, you need to stand out from the competition and do all you can to become immediately relevant for your customers.

This trend translates into e-commerce strategy mainly with chatbots that provide a highly relevant experience to each guest. The key metrics in assessing the success of online personalization are engagement and the data that customers are happy to share with you because they feel that you are providing answers to their problems rather than pushing your product at all costs.

Interaction

The web was made for search. Unfortunately, browsing is very clumsy on smartphones. Mobile’s DNA is interaction. Making your content smaller is not going to take you very far. You have to embrace interaction as the new format of your sales and marketing messages.

In the last 2 years, Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, Live chats etc. have become essential to hotel marketing. Instant messaging gives hotels the opportunity to fit into their customers’ lifestyle. In short, it makes it easy for guests to share their needs and even easier for hotels to answer them. For the first time ever, customers can talk to their hotel on their own terms, the way they like it.

Most hoteliers have connected the dots between mobile, messaging and AI. The question is, how to fit this emerging ecosystem into your e-commerce strategy.

Start somewhere

Rome was not built in a day. Incremental improvement is way easier and more successful than radical change. Sales is probably where you want to start, as any improvement will be quickly palatable. In this area, chatbots can probably be useful.

Be part of the solution

Do not expect that implementing a new tool alone will solve all your problems. Chatbots help you automate recurring questions which represent about 80% of customer queries. Sometimes it won’t be able to answer and that’s where you have the opportunity to take over because your chatbot will always get the customer’s name, needs and contact details.

Put the customer first

When you consider adding a new technology you should think of how it will fit into your customers' journey and how they are going to interact with it. Keeping the example of chatbots in mind, how are your customers going to find it? Will they be able to properly interact with it? I remember a challenge we had with some hotels that had older customers that didn’t understand they were speaking to a chatbot and always wrote sentences that were too long for the AI to understand. The solution was to change the first interaction, from the customer asking the first question to the chatbot. It framed the conversation and enabled the chatbot to help even old people. Choose tech partners that understand your customers.

If you’d like to discuss more or have questions about chatbots and AI, feel welcome to contact me at bde@quicktext.im.