By Anissa Sersoub, VP Marketing @Botfuel
May 20, 2019
5 reasons why an automated booking assistant can give you a competitive edge
Hotel booking can be stressful and time-consuming. Before customers ever step foot into your property, they’ve got to-do’s to check off of their list: locking in the best rates, taking advantage of special perks, arranging airport transfers, making last-minute modifications (and the list goes on). A hotel’s customer service team must be ready to assist at every hour of the day. After all, this is the “hospitality” industry.
Hotel managers know this all too well. True, they’re ultimately responsible for filling rooms with satisfied travelers, but they’re also on the hook to maintain the hotel's day-to-day operations (i.e. hitting revenue targets, building brand reputation, spearheading digital transformation, and nurturing a happy team). Much of a hotel manager’s job is, therefore, about delivering stellar customer experiences — all in an effort to encourage customers to leave positive reviews, recommend to family and friends, and eventually stay again. The hotel booking process is no exception to this rule.
At Botfuel, we know that an automated hotel chatbot can improve and, ultimately, revolutionize the hotel booking experience. Leveraging an intelligent booking assistant like this can give smaller hotels the edge they need to stand out and deliver a better customer experience before customers begin their travels. Whether answering simple questions, making bookings, sharing recommendations, or managing feedback, a hotel chatbot can create a better pre-arrival experience that sets the tone for the stay.
If you haven’t already considered implementing a hotel AI chatbot to improve your hotel booking experience, here are five reasons why you should today:
Travelers want to feel “at home” wherever they go. Using an automated booking assistant to open a dialogue that anticipates customer needs before they ever step foot into your hotel is a great way to build immediate trust. Because a hotel chatbot is an “always-on” solution, your hotel can virtually be on-call to handle traveler needs whenever they arise. And for inquiries that require human interaction, they are trained to know when it’s time to pass the baton. Either way, simply being there for travelers while in the process of making important travel decisions is a way to show your brand cares — and that can go a long way for generating loyalty, even in advance of a customer’s arrival. After all, why not use this opportunity to get them excited about their upcoming stay while also gaining (and owning) important customer data and insights that can help you personalize their experience once they arrive?
In a crowded online hotel booking marketplace, it can be tough for smaller establishments to get special offers and promotions in front of potential travelers. However, when engaging travelers via a hotel chatbot, it becomes a lot easier to surface relevant offers and promotions in real-time and tailor them to a customer’s travel dates or special booking needs. It’s essentially a way to provide immediate customer value within the context of a single interaction or conversation. Not to mention, offering up unbeatable and timely deals — those that can’t be found on third-party OTA (online travel agency) sites — is a great tactic for closing a sale on the spot and providing a certain level of “surprise and delight.”
Speaking of closing sales, travelers who choose to interact with an intelligent booking assistant are likely further along their decision-making journey than those who are still in casual “browsing” mode. Their interaction with a hotel chatbot is oftentimes the last step before making a booking. In fact, recent data shows that simply exchanging six chat messages can increase the likelihood of a prospect becoming an actual customer by 250%. And since a hotel chatbot can effortlessly handle the hotel booking process on-the-spot, your chances of making more direct bookings can increase significantly.
A lot of hotel booking activity today has migrated to OTA’s. And because larger, more well-known hotel chains can provide a greater volume of inventory, they end up paying smaller commissions than their boutique counterparts. This makes it harder for boutique establishments to stand out from the “big guys,” oftentimes having no choice but to pay higher commissions to rank higher in search results. However, this also presents boutique hotels with a huge advantage: because they can be more nimble and adaptable to customer needs, they are also better positioned to create more personalized customer experiences. Implementing a hotel chatbot can help drive this — an important tactic at a time when customers are more digital- and mobile-first in their hotel booking behaviors than ever before.
As we’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest benefits of implementing chatbots — for any business — is to make your overall customer service efforts more effective. Chatbots, like Botfuel Answers, can instantly automate up to 50% of the most common customer inquiries, allowing your customer experience teams to tackle more complex customer issues and respond to customer feedback in a more thoughtful manner. It’s a win-win all around. Customers can get questions answered quickly and accurately while front desk, concierge, and other customer-facing staff can focus their attention on in-person customer needs — and potentially also benefit from a 40% boost in productivity.
As you can see, for boutique hotel chains and small establishments looking to get a leg up on the competition, especially in a very crowded hotel booking marketplace that presents travelers with all sorts of choices, a hotel AI chatbot can be a great way to take back control of the hotel booking experience. Not only can they help build an immediate and more personalized relationship with potential customers, but they can also help increase the number of direct bookings and improve overall customer experience.
These are just a few of the benefits that an intelligent booking assistant can bring to your hotel brand. To learn more about how a Botfuel Answers hotel chatbot can take your hotel booking experience to the next level, visit Botfuel Answers for Hotels.