Hotel Digitalisation
April 10, 2018
Empathic hotel
May 5, 2018

Chatbot Concierge

~the dialog-based web service for hotels~

25 April 2018

In our last article we already talked about the digitalisation of the hotel industry - how exactly you can do that, we will discuss it in this article. Chatbots play an increasingly important role in the digitisation issues. Bot - for some people, that sounds a bit like a gloomy future. It is actually not that bad, on the contrary. The technology is still young. But first things first.

What is a chatbot?

Generally speaking, a chatbot - usually with a persona - is a dialog-based user interface. Most of them are not equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and are therefore the same as a question and answer form. But instead of filling out a form, it uses chat and dialogue. With the term artificial intelligence we mean, that the bots are able to remember long-term answers and can recognize correlations between them. These programs run on both websites and on social media.

A brief history of chatbots

  • The first chatbots already existed in the 1970s with a slight upswing in the 1990s.
  • One of the first bots was Eliza (developed in 1966). Her job was to imitate natural language.
  • The big boom began in June 2016, when Facebook Messenger opened its doors to chatbots - since then, over 200,000 chatbots have been developed (as of January 2018).

Digital concierge service

Fearing that a chatbot could take over the duties of an actual concierge is too far-fetched. Chatbots usually do very simple tasks. They should support people at work and not replace them.

"Which wellness program would you like to book?"

You can have a chatbot programmed for a wide range of services, depending on your particular hotel. Keep in mind that the customer experience should always be the focus of the chatbot.
Providing the right concierge chatbot for your guests is almost as much a task as managing your corporate communications. Consider the bot simply as a kind of employee: What should he tell your guests and how friendly should he be? If you have a spa in your hotel, then a possible task for the bot would be to inform your guests about the recent offer.

How reliable is a concierge chatbot?

It all depends on how he was programmed. According to the latest reports, Amazon's Alexa has responded to evil commands with feminist repartee/remarks.
Your concierge chatbot can be as reliable as you wish. He can either ignore or calm down nagging guests. He can accept praise with a "thank you". Or forward all concerns directly to the reception.
However, you should be aware that a chatbot can not (yet) conduct independent discussions. The dialogues are often kept minimalist and focus on a task, such as booking systems within the hotel or alarm clock functions.
As time goes by, the concierge chatbot becomes more and more accurate when it comes to the well-being of your guests.

Where can I get a concierge chatbot?

Within Europe, Vienna has become since June 2016, a hotspot for chatbot development. International conferences, regular meetups and accelerator programs are since 2017 just the tip of the iceberg around the new technology.
Within Vienna, there are now various agencies and developers who have focused entirely on the development of chatbots. The potential for hotels is enormous.

How much does the development cost?

Generally that's hard to say. It all depends on the tasks, which the bot should take over.
It can be compared to a car: You can have the standard version: motorized vehicle with four wheels. Or you can have the luxury option: soft, comfortable seats and smooth driving, combined with heated seats, adaptive brake lights, driving assistance, media interfaces and a start-stop system.
It's the same with a chatbot. There are basic and luxury options.