Sep 4, 2019 | Conversational Booking | Reading Time: 4 minutes
A chatbot is a tool created to simulate a human conversation via a chat interface. It can be powered by rules or artificial intelligence and, its goal is to replicate the experience customers have when interacting with a live agent online.
Chatbots have many names: virtual assistant, artificial conversation entity (ACE), chat robot, talk bot. No matter what name you choose to call them, once only something in the distant future, chatbots are now a reality. And they are everywhere!
Companies all over the world and from different sectors are promoting the use of chatbots: Marriott, Facebook, SnapTravel and Google are some of the famous examples. Even the hospitality industry, so traditional in the way it operates, has embraced this new technology.
But why are they so popular? Simply because human arms are not enough to answer all the non-stop demand for customer service. AI-based solutions can automate processes, assist humans and are a smart, and not too expensive, way to speed up tasks.
To understand better this new trend of chatbots, keep reading this article. Hopefully, by the end of it, you will know better who will probably be your new robotic co-worker. Shall we?
The basics: what chatbots can do and why they were created
In the beginning, there was Eliza. Eliza was one of the first chatbots created in MIT’s lab in 1966 to simulate a psychotherapist. Back then, chatbots had no Artificial Intelligence, only predetermined scripts with key pre-calculated user phrases.
Often used for basic customer service and marketing systems, chatbots were developed to give customers an online experience similar to the real-life. They are able to make it simple and easy for customers to find answers, solve a problem, book a service, or buy a product on their own without the need for human interaction. Here, the goal was to create a convenient process for customers.
⏭ Fast forward some years and chatbots were powered with AI. That means that they started to understand natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile apps, or through the telephone. Now they are truly chatbots!
In a nutshell: there are now two types of chatbots: one that is based on a set of rules and another that is empowered by AI and uses machine learning. Their goal is to assist human workers in basic tasks in the ever-growing online demand.
Welcome to the hotel, Chatbot!
Chatbots are becoming a big hit in the hospitality and travel industry. That is because they offer a higher-end user experience at a lower price point. Marriott, for instance, has more than one chatbot. Among them, there is the Aloft’s ChatBotlr:
Marriott is investing in a chatbot ecosystem to engage guests before, during, and after their stay. Bots can help them on their whole journey by increasing customer satisfaction while lowering costs via automation. It’s a win-win situation.
The intelligent virtual agents can rely on machine learning to understand the various ways your customers may ask for things. Plus, a hotel chatbot can also help boost direct reservations since it can be integrated with booking engines. No wonder chatbots are a hit now in the hotel industry!
Chatbots will take my job. No… wait!
Today, many routine tasks are being automated. As you can see in this graphic brought by the World Economic Forum, the division of labor between humans and machines is changing. By 2025, it is expected that machines perform 52% of the total tasks hours across industries:
When it comes to reducing costs, a lot of managers see AI as an essential tool. Besides, people want fast and easy communication. Chatbots can speed up the processes of answering and filtering through travel bookings, giving the online user the fast service that they expect.
But the big question is: will robots take your job? Probably no! Quite the contrary, the World Economic Forum also states that machines and algorithms (AI included) will be responsible for creating over 58 million new jobs by 2022.
In fact, research shows that countries that bought more machines are the ones with the lowest unemployment rate.
The point is jobs will not disappear, but new ones, with a different set of skills, will be required. It’s a matter of being prepared for this innovation in labor.
Robots didn’t come to take jobs from humans. They are here to help us, humans, to perform better, and to be able to focus on more complex tasks. Maybe the best recipe is to find the right balance between staff interaction and AI-powered customer service. That way hotel services will be as efficient as a machine, but reasonable and as warm as a human.
Like I said before, jobs and positions are changing. So it is important that workers be proactive with their own development and that companies support employees’ in their growth. As long as you are always looking for new ways to enhance your skills, you will be more likely to keep your job, side-by-side with chatbots.
Get ready to work with a chatbot!
In conclusion, any chat software that performs automated tasks is a chatbot. The service provided could be a number of things, from answering simple questions to assisting to complete a booking or a sale.
A survey by Oracle made with 800 decision-makers says that 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020. The reason for its popularity is that customers expect more now than human effort can provide.
Plus, chatbots have the ability to make websites come alive. They have the power to engage your online visitors, making the experience interactive while capturing data that you need.
Chatbots have surely come a long way since the ’60s! It is quite impressive what they can do now. But if you still think they are a boring “answering-questions” tool, take a look at this video of Poncho, the weather cat bot launched at 2016 Facebook Conference:
Pretty cool, isn’t it? Can you imagine having a chatbot with Artificial Intelligence on your hotel website? You don’t need to imagine anymore! Book now an online demo with our consultant and check with your own eyes what our hotel chatbot can do!