The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the hospitality and tourism industries, but voice assistants, online check-in tools, kiosks solutions, chatbots and other systems are helping to speed up the return. As the industry recovers, these devices are playing an important role in hotels’ digital strategies. While addressing both safety concerns and staff shortages, voice technology can enable greater personalisation leading to guest higher satisfaction.
As hotels reopen, many have kept social distancing measures in place like queueing, one-way systems and fewer touchpoints, even after the so-called Freedom Day, to try to keep staff and guests safe. Knowingli Market Research found that over 93% of guests say that they expect each hotel to outline its safety measures, and with the hospitality industry also facing severe staff shortages, using new technology has become a top consideration.
Voice is a Familiar Experience
Voice technology in hotels is not a stretch for guests or hoteliers. Many of us have long become used to talking to smart speakers in our homes. According to the latest research from Voice.ai, the smart speaker ownership rate in the UK surpassed the U.S. at the end of 2020. Over 38% of UK adults owned a smart speaker at the start of 2021, up from 30.7% at the beginning of 2020, and the market saw 24.5% growth during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
With the technology already familiar to guests of all ages, hotels are using it to personalise their stays and keep them safe. PhocusWright claims that voice technology emerged in hospitality back in 2019 with some 81% of business travellers claiming to have used mobile voice assistants during a trip. The pandemic has accelerated that trend.
Safe and Smart
Is this a perfect storm for the mainstream use of voice technology in hospitality? Many brands already think so, with properties like Staypineapple in New York putting Angie by Nomadix voice assistants in place to both create a physically distanced, contactless experience for guests and offer smart hotel functionality to streamline its operations.
Guests can request and control a long list of services and amenities simply by saying “Hey, Angie. I need two more towels” or “Hey, Angie. Can I check out?” – all without physical contact or calling the front desk. Integrations with leading partners unlock more contactless capabilities, allowing guests to stream music from the internet or a mobile device, control lighting and temperature, and even transmit room service orders, personalising the in-room experience to their individual taste, all by voice.
Reduce Housekeeping Demand
Numerous touchpoints in the hospitality industry can benefit from voice assistants, to enhance the guest experience and provide hoteliers with ROI. But, with cleaning and safety expectations putting pressure on staff, Angie can reduce the strain. It offloads these calls by responding and routing guests’ requests to the correct department and can also submit maintenance requests. This reduces calls to housekeeping and gives time back to staff to focus on high-touch areas.
When guests check out using voice, housekeeping knows that the room is ready for cleaning, and these extra minutes saved create greater efficiencies behind the scenes. And, for even greater personalisation and efficiency, multi-language features bridge any language gap, allowing overseas guests to send requests in their native languages, which are translated for housekeeping.
With pressure on hotels to sanitise guest rooms, voice assistants replace germ-prone hotspots like TV remotes, printed collateral and menus, by allowing hotels to both display hotel and local information on the device screen and answer guests’ questions and commands orally to change the TV channel for example.
Save Calls, Time and Cash
With other in-room technology like radios, bluetooth speakers, alarm clocks and even the bedside phone consolidated into a single device, hotels can save money by eliminating this hardware and the related support costs. And that digital screen? It’s an opportunity to upsell hotel services or monetise as an advertising channel to third parties like nearby restaurants, theatres and attractions
Booking processes and response times for room service, reservations, spa or pool passes and excursions can also be shortened using voice technology, with the bonus of increasing incremental revenue.
Whether your hotel is short-staffed or working overtime to adhere to new post-pandemic requirements, Angie can help relieve some of the burden, working around the clock (this assistant doesn’t take breaks), to improve the guest experience by answering questions, offering recommendations, bridging language barriers and more.
Available through Nomadix partners in over 150 countries, talk to us about the touchless guest experience Angie could unlock at your hotel.
The post originally appeared in Hotel Owner.
Hauke Lenthe, Managing Director, EMEA & APAC: Brings more than 25 years of hospitality and international hotel technology experience, spanning from managed internet services to operational and guest-facing software. Previous roles include Vice President of Middle East and Africa in Dubai at iBAHN and Executive Vice President at Shiji Group supporting Hetras Cloud PMS. He also served as Partner and CCO for Neorcha, a Dubai-based hotel app startup.