AI will and already is changing hospitality. Here’s how.

In the ever-changing realm of hospitality, where every detail is tailored to create an unforgettable experience, artificial intelligence or AI is revolutionizing the industry in ways that are both delightful and profound. 

Envision a hotel that not only knows your preferred room temperature but also adjusts the thermostat just as you step through the door. Or a concierge who anticipates your dining preferences and curates a list of restaurants without you even having to ask. In this new era, AI orchestrates a symphony of chatbots and virtual assistants, creating a seamless, personalized experience for each guest.  

Hotel design, too, is experiencing a renaissance with AI. By analyzing guest data, AI empowers architects and designers to create spaces that feel curated for each visitor. Think hotel rooms that adapt lighting, temperature and even artwork to match your preferences, crafting an environment that feels uniquely yours. AI can also help hotels optimize energy efficiency and sustainability.  

Gabriel Diaz, Gensler

Behind the scenes, AI can also improve the way hotels manage their day-to-day operations. By deciphering patterns and predicting peak demand, AI enables hotels to optimize staff schedules and manage resources with unprecedented efficiency. This translates to a smoother, more harmonious experience for guests, ensuring that their every need is met with the grace and precision of a well-rehearsed ballet.

Elevating On-Demand Services    

Imagine walking into a hotel and being greeted by a troupe of charming, multilingual robots, who manage every aspect of your stay. From check-ins to housekeeping, these metallic maestros provide a one-of-a-kind experience that captivates and delights. They can also offer personalized recommendations, book reservations and help around the clock, making guests feel at home in a world of technology.  

Many hotels around the world have already embraced this technological frontier. Current examples include:   

  • Trip Planning: One international hotel chain offers guests a virtual assistant that can book rooms, keep track of flight schedules and process amenity and service requests.  
  • Digital Concierge: A Las Vegas hotel created a chatbot that assists guests with personalized recommendations, making reservations and answering queries in real-time. Another property provides guests with in-room virtual assistants that manage lighting, room temperature, room service and more.  
  • Luggage Storage: Robotic bellhops in a New York hotel deftly manage luggage storage, providing an efficient and memorable encounter for guests. 

Super-Charging Sustainability 

One of the most exciting aspects of AI is its ability to take sustainability to new heights. These AI-powered systems can allow guests to control the temperature, lighting, and even room service, while operators can use new platforms to help optimize energy consumption and minimize waste.  

  • Next-Level Energy Efficiency 
  • A Las Vegas hotel uses AI to control the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This system has helped the hotel slash energy consumption by 15 percent, saving millions of dollars in the process.
  • Waste Management Wizardry 
  • A hotel in Davos has adopted an intelligent waste management system with AI sensors that detect when trash cans are full and alert the waste management team. This cutting-edge system has reduced the hotel’s waste management costs by 30 percent while boosting recycling rates. 
  • Tracking Best Practices  
  • New AI-powered sustainability hubs provide a data-sharing infrastructure for travel and hospitality providers, distributors, and certification entities to assess the performance of sustainable best practices and ensure they are implementing the most effective ones on their properties.   

Operating with Precision  

AI is impacting hotel operations in new ways, allowing human staff to attend to other essential tasks. AI-powered robots can be programmed to clean the property, deliver supplies and even man the front desk. On the food and beverage side, automated kitchens whir to life, preparing meals in record time, while robotic couriers deliver meals at the property restaurants or room service orders.  

AI can also assist the hotel by developing bespoke marketing campaigns for guests, offering access to personalized experiences and special rates, depending on their interests and travel schedules. This curated approach can help turn guests into repeat customers and potentially increase revenue.  

Despite the ways AI can help maximize operations, we must also consider the ethical implications that come with it. Data privacy and data security, and other ethical concerns must be at the forefront of our minds. Guests rightfully expect their personal information, credit card details and other sensitive data to be protected. As such, hotels must invest in stringent cybersecurity and other privacy platforms to reassure guests with accountability, transparency and peace of mind.   

The integration of AI in the hospitality industry also brings with it a significant impact on the workforce. New, automated systems will replace certain jobs and tasks previously done by human beings. To ensure a smooth transition, investments in upskilling and reskilling programs for hospitality workers are necessary to ensure they are prepared for the future.  

The Evolution Continues  

Now that AI has arrived, the potential new applications for the hospitality industry are practically endless. One such application that promises to take the hotel experience to new heights is the utilization of AI for sentiment analysis and natural language processing (NLP).  

Imagine a hotel that could identify and respond to guest feedback or questions in real time, as well as categorize a question or complaint by prioritizing urgent needs first. With NLP and sentiment analysis, hotels could monitor feedback from online reviews and social media, proactively addressing any shortcomings and, in turn, enhancing guest satisfaction. This seamless integration of technology and empathy would allow hotels to create a truly personalized experience for every visitor.  

AI applications may soon be able to automate revenue management through dynamic pricing and demand forecasting. As a result, hotel rooms in the not-so-distant future would be priced on factors such as the time of day, day of the week, season and even the weather. With AI at the helm, hotels could effortlessly adjust room prices in real-time, optimizing revenues, and occupancy rates while still catering to customer demands. 

Demand forecasting is another area where AI shines. By analyzing data from sources, such as online travel agencies, social media, customer reviews, and even the hotel’s own booking history, AI can accurately predict future demand for hotel rooms. This valuable insight allows hotels to better allocate resources, manage inventory and plan staffing needs.  

By pairing caution and enthusiasm, AI applications can be leveraged to create truly immersive, one-of-a-kind guest experiences, along with the jobs of the future. As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, we can only imagine the exciting innovations that await us in the future. 

Story contributed by Gabi Diaz, design manager in the hospitality practice at Gensler Austin.