The Artificial Intelligence solution to convert the occasional traveler into a regular guest.
New devices, changing consumer needs, touchpoints and so-called “moments of truth” mixed with increasingly diversified guests… The future of hospitality is here!
Back in 2014, new technologies and digitalization were re-shaping the hospitality industry, and as a result, Best Western Italy was looking for an innovative solution to further increase their brand and hotel reputation. This is how the first interaction between the hotel group and Travel Appeal, the AI-driven, hospitality start-up, took place.
Best Western Italy decided to focus on innovation and invest in a digital ecosystem, aimed at increasing the performance of both the individual properties and the overall hotel chain.
During the 2016 annual meeting, Best Western Italy and Travel Appeal brainstormed ideas about how to enhance the customer stay. Hotel managers expressed the need to improve the guest experience. The pre and post-stay interactions had to be strengthened to build customer loyalty and generate guest retention. Thus the idea of Conversations was born. Travel Appeal developed an intelligent, hospitality-friendly chatbot to close the gap between staff and guests, and in turn improve reputation and increase sales.
The Product: A pocket-sized Concierge
Conversations is a cutting-edge, Artificial-Intelligence-based chatbot, developed to convert the occasional traveler into a regular guest. It helps to personalize the visitor’s stay, allowing guests to request services and communicate with staff.
Conversations is designed for any user. It works through Facebook Messenger, so no downloads are necessary and it’s easy to use. Most importantly, it follows guests throughout their customer journey and engages them from pre-stay to post-stay.
The chatbot is available 24/7 so customers can perform numerous activities at any time, from ordering room service and checking in, to exploring events and much more! The product was immediately implemented by Best Western Italy; they have distributed the product (under the name Best Friend) to each of its 170 hotels throughout the Bel Paese. Every hotel manager can engage with guests throughout their customer journey by fulfilling requests in ‘automatic mode’, but also chat directly with guests at anytime to encourage up-selling or to add a more personal touch.
Conversations is utilized by hoteliers every day. Here’s a glimpse of the benefits for both guests and hotel managers:
- It provides guests with details about their booking or general information about the hotel (directions, meal times, Wi-Fi access, etc.)
- Online check-in
- Includes information about the destination, including: weather, points of interest, restaurants, events or local activities that can be purchased
- Allows for the booking of additional services and products (parking, wellness treatments, room service, etc.)
- Sends guest satisfaction surveys at the end of the stay to evaluate the experience
- It allows staff to maintain contact with guests, even in the event of cancellation
- Facilitates booking of subsequent stays (retains information about guests to replicate at future stays)
- Offers a chat function for the guest to talk with hotel staff via direct message
Results and Benefits
In just one year, Best Western Italy recorded a growth of 117%, jumping from 619 to 1346 products sold.
Moreover, Best Friend allows Best Western Italy to:
- Customize Experiences
The system sent over 200,000 text messages to guests. This information is vital to personalize the stay. By contacting guests via SMS (the customers who submitted a valid mobile phone number during their reservation) hotel managers can contact around 15% of guests.
- Sell Additional Products
More than 9,000 additional services were booked during 2018.
- Interact more with Customers
Over 8,000 customers (and counting!) have used the chatbot, with an average of 8 interactions for each. Over 20% who have used the chatbot once, return to use it again.
- Increase Customer Retention
The guest rating, which is calculated on a 1-to-5 scale, is higher when left via the chatbot compared to when left on OTAs or social media channels.
And what do guests ask at the chatbot throughout their customer journey? The types of services range from wellness and breakfast, to transfer and check-in. The breakdown is below:
The case of Best Western Italy demonstrates that by investing in digital innovations, you can uncover more about your customers. Artificial Intelligence solutions pay off in the long run, both in customer loyalty and profit generation.
Visit our website to learn more about Conversations, the Travel Appeal chatbot dedicated to the hospitality sector.