*Originally published in Chinese on bnext.com.tw on January 14, 2023
Guests staying at InterContinental Kaohsiung experience an in-room AI assistant that can answer their questions and customize the guest room environment.
“Through AVA, the experience of staying in our hotel can feel more unique and personal,” said Robbert Manussen, the General Manager of InterContinental Kaohsiung.
Aiello Voice Assistant (AVA) answers questions coming from the guests using the startup’s own AI model. Although voice AI technology has already been generating enormous benefits in many different fields, the hotel industry is known for being quite traditional and embracing innovation at a much slower pace. Robbert Manussen sees the great advantages of this technology and is determined to lead the way in voice AI adoption.
Voice is one of the most natural ways for humans to interact with technology. Through the adoption of voice-based controls, hotel technology becomes more inclusive for people of all generations, including elders and young children. After adding AVA, the InterContinental Kaohsiung gathered more than 160,000 voice interactions with the guests in just 4 months after opening, and the average screen click-through rate on the device reached more than 10%. Guests at the InterContinental Kaohsiung talk to AVA on average 20 times per night. This means that the hotel management gets around 20 pieces of new information (queries) from the guests that are visualized in dashboards and summaries of the guest engagement. This data helps the teams to create more accurate customer profiles, understand things that truly matter to their customers, and run follow-up analyses to further optimize their offerings.
“Back then I saw one of my colleagues speaking to another AI assistant in a strong European accent. The device couldn’t pick up what they were asking”, Robbert said with a wry smile.
This experience also made him realize that although voice assistants are driven by sophisticated technology if they cannot understand the users, they are merely an accessory in the room with no purpose. Therefore, he was very careful about introducing this technology at the InterContinental Kaohsiung. “From air conditioning to televisions, such an extensive choice of room controls might be overwhelming for some guests; setting up a room environment to the guest’s liking should not feel like a chore “, he said.
Voice-based commands allow most users to interact with in-room technology effortlessly and fast.
“Guests just say what they want in a few words and AVA takes care of the rest. It’s that simple,” he added.
But of course, the complex AI model behind AVA still needs some training time and the accuracy of the responses improves conversation by conversation.
Robbert said that with AVA he and his team were able to tap into guests’ needs that they didn’t think of before. For example, many guests were asking where the nearest smoking area is, and the hotel team also realized that many female customers often ask for personal hygiene items for women.
In order to keep the guests happy, the hotel staff constantly monitors the information in the AVA’s guest profile dashboard, and the hotel also designed a user guide with basic instructions and examples for the guests on how to use the voice assistant.
The founder and CEO of Aiello, Vic Shen, said that for hotels with high occupancy rates to make the most out of AVA, the product can be used as the single service window that is handling a wide range of tasks. With this strategy, the hotel will accumulate great volumes of customer data, that convert into tangible insights to fuel service optimization.
Why did Robbert Manussen opt for adopting the voice AI system AVA designed by Aiello?
“We’re glad to be partnering with a local company with such international potential and a shared vision of the tech-powered future of tailored luxury,” For Aiello on the other hand, this collaboration represents a major endorsement by a top international luxury hotel brand while helping the InterContinental Kaohsiung to grow its reputation as a pioneer in innovation and technology adoption.
“Working with the InterContinental Kaohsiung has been also an important experience in our business growth,” Vic Shen adds, “Especially in terms of proving that our service can keep with the top-class requirements. The hotel service operates round-the-clock, and it is expected to be flawless. Our product, AVA, and the Aiello team must be able to handle the difficulties that hotel staff face every day, which leaves no room for error.”
Robbert and his team at the InterContinental Kaohsiung work very hard to provide the warmest and most attentive service possible. This can only be achieved with human staff. However, he also understands that the hotel departments from the front desk to housekeeping, spend hours on repetitive questions such as telling the guests what the Wi-Fi password is or handling room service requests like delivering ice or additional water bottle to the room. These requests should be dealt with more quickly through technology, to save time, and improve service efficiency. “A seemingly simple query has to go through a number of platforms and staff members, but with the help of smart devices like AVA, we handle it in a matter of seconds,” he adds.
Through AVA, guests can easily request a wide range of services, which results in a more efficient and satisfactory experience. Minimizing the volume of phone calls, on top of that, leaves room for the hotel staff to interact with customers on a more personal level.
“In just five months, we were able to decrease the overall call handling time by 500 hours,” said Robbert.
This is just the beginning, and the team at the InterContinental Kaohsiung has bold plans with the Taiwanese voice AI brand. The teams are working on connecting the AVA system with different platforms and solutions that are used in the hotel to improve the smoothness of service delivery and the guest experience even further. Through this collaboration, InterContinental Kaohsiung is able to tailor an unforgettable, smooth experience for the guests streamline task automation for the staff, and ultimately lead the way in the evolution of the hotel industry.
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