Feb 2 2019
Since ancient times, the human thirst for travel has driven us to explore the world. Thanks to the rapid development of modern transportation, people now have more options than ever before to do this easily and conveniently. Travel and tourism have become one of the most important economic sectors in the world, accounting for 10.4% of global GDP and 9.9% of total employment in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Although the service-based travel sector remains human-intensive, even if it cannot dodge the disruption AI brings to global industries. According to a report by the Canadian real estate agency Colliers International, 73% of manual activities in the hotel industry could be automated by 2025 due to the widespread deployment of technologies such as facial and voice recognition, robotics, virtual reality, biometrics, etc.
Synced surveyed several “future hotels” that are already applying AI in the hospitality industry, to see how technology can provide guests with a unique and satisfying experience.
Voice assistants offered by Marriott International
In 2018, Marriott International began integrating Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality into select hotels. Using Amazon’s Echo voice assistants, guests can order room service, adjust controls for lights, temperature, and more, and ask location-specific questions from their rooms. Soon, Marriott customers will also be able to log into their Amazon accounts, allowing them, for example, to play their favorite music or listen to their Audible audiobooks wherever they stay.
Unique and smart living experience at FlyZoo Hotel
Alibaba Group’s FlyZoo Hotel in Hangzhou, China is the first futuristic hotel using facial recognition technology. Guests can self-check in, take the elevator to the appropriate floor, and enter their room, all via face scans. Robots replace hotel staff by providing room service and serving as waiters in the restaurant. In their rooms, guests can control the temperature, light intensity, appliances, and more. via voice interaction using Tmall Genie. In the future, guests will also be able to purchase a lamp, chair or any other item they like in the hotel simply by taking a photo of it in the dedicated app.
Smart bracelets available in Meliá Hotels International
Meliá Hotels International and Oracle have developed a smart bracelet with a Bluetooth connection for the Meliá application. The bracelet allows guests to open their room door and pay for services and purchases at all Meliá stores and restaurants. Smart bracelets are already in use at two corporate hotels in Magaluf, Spain; and four other hotels will deploy the devices this summer.
In the past, a hotel review focused primarily on the room, facilities, food, and service – and hotels that invested in improving these could satisfy almost any guest. However, as the trend towards AI-powered personalization continues, providing personalized and convenient services is emerging as a new and effective way to gain favor with customers. We will likely see more hotels in the future take advantage of smart digital technologies to better meet the individual needs of travelers.
AI technology is still in development, however, so deployment costs in a hotel or hotel chain remain high. Additionally, smart solutions are not yet smart enough to completely replace human staff: Tokyo’s Henn-na Hotel – the world’s first hotel run largely by robots – recently ‘fired’ more than half of its 243 robots employed after customers said they were inefficient and irritating. Information security and fears of job loss are additional issues that AI faces in travel and tourism.
Author: Kelly Xie | Editor: Michael Sarazen