In the year 2020, one short year from now, the oldest millennials will turn 40, a milestone birthday. This means that millennials, currently the most significant consumer demographic, have been booking hotels stays for nearly 20 years. They have been the first generation to be able to use the Internet and mobile technology to research, book, and experience their stays. For this reason, they’re called the Do-It-Yourself Generation. And these DIYers demand experiences that have caused hotels to scrutinize many aspects of how they do business.
Hoteliers recognize that millennials — and their successor Gen Zs — communicate differently. They also want experiences that are personalized, context-aware, and unfolding in real time — something humans aren’t always capable of delivering. To evolve and accommodate these next-gen guests, hotels have implemented changes, from hotel design and amenities to guest services. Some of the most recent technological adaptations for hotels bring together human expertise and machine intelligence creating a seamless, better real-time experience for the guest. Generation DIY is opening the door to Generation AI.
A New Era of Customer Experience
Millennials are incredibly focused on experience. They earn less money and take fewer vacation days, so they want to make every vacation dollar spent count. They command extraordinary experiences with top-notch customer service – 56% of Millennials moved their business from at least one company in the past year due to poor customer service. In fact, customer experience is increasingly defined by customer service, with 76% of all generations now viewing customer service as a “true test” of how much a company values them.
However, millennials, unlike preceding generations, don’t want in-person interactions when it comes to customer service. Sixty-six percent of millennial travelers avoid talking face-to-face with a real person to receive service, and 72% believe a phone call is not the best way to resolve a service issue. Instead, this DIY Generation wants instant, self-service solutions. It’s almost a visceral need: 69% of millennials say that they feel good about themselves (as well as the company they are doing business with) when they resolve a problem without talking to a company representative!
To meet the millennial guest where their guest experience needs are, hotels must understand millennial communication preferences. What do they prefer?
- Using connected devices, especially their smartphones – according to the Adobe Digital Index, on average, millennials own 7.7 connected devices and use 3.3 each day
- Texting, because…
- They want responses fast, on-demand and without added friction, but…
- They like, want and expect brand engagement, and…
- They’re open to experimenting with new and more intelligent devices and platforms like voice-commanded assistants.
The disintermediation of frontline human customer service by millennials led one recent headline to summarize their preference this way: “Help Me Help Myself or I’m Out.”
Getting by with a Little Help from AI
Fortunately for hoteliers, there’s another new intelligent platform on the scene to meet millennials where their demand lies: the smartconcierge. Inspired by human concierges, the smartconcierge is a machine learning tool powered by artificial intelligence, which is programmed to anticipate and meet guests’ needs, instantly. Weak Wi-Fi signal? Ask the smartconcierge for help. Need a sushi restaurant recommendation and reservation. The smartconcierge can handle that. Want poolside bar service? Ping the smartconcierge. A response will be returned in less than one second. First generation smartconcierges deliver service through smartphone messaging, but they are also now being integrated into voice assistants as well.
The smartconcierge’s AI enables it to interpret guests’ needs by context, preferences, and prior requests. Then, the smartconcierge delivers timely and relevant answers, additional content, and special offers. Its powerful technology not only adroitly meets the needs of millennial guests, but all guests, freeing up hotel staff to focus on more complicated requests. And when the smartconcierge can’t handle a request or a cannot satisfy a guest, it knows to elevate the request to a human counterpart in guest services to take over. At that point, the smartconcierge updates the guest with status alerts until the matter is fully resolved. A happy guest is a loyal guest.
The smartconcierge also provides “up-serving” and guest experience enhancement opportunities. Hoteliers can push VIP invites, special gatherings, event tickets and more through the smart concierge.
All of these smartconcierge features serve to surprise and delight the DIY Generation who then do what every hotelier hopes they’ll do: write rave reviews of their stay and shout-out their awesome smartconcierge. In short, hotels that want to drive incremental revenues and capture the imagination and loyalty of high expectation-propelled millennials would do well to adapt to emerging AI tools like a smartconcierge quickly.
Raj Singh is a product design expert and CEO at Go Moment, a Google-backed company dedicated to making customer service instant. Go Moment’s Ivy is the world’s largest customer service automation platform for hotels as seen on NBC.
Singh brings cross-discipline design, technology, and marketing experience from hundreds of large-scale technology projects for leading brands like Virgin, Lady Gaga, and HEB Grocery Company. Blending his deep expertise in UX and market research, Singh works alongside leaders in hospitality to address the industry’s needs using next-generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and labor automation. In partnership with IBM Watson, Go Moment’s Ivy platform, which utilizes text or voice messaging and leverages human expertise and automation to resolve requests instantly, is currently available to millions of hotel guests.
Select speaking engagements include:
- HITEC 2018
- Phocuswright 2016
- CWT VIP Summit 2018
- Plug and Play Ventures 2018
- Hotel Interactive BITAC 2016-2018 (multiple appearances)
- IBM Insight 2015
About Go Moment
Go Moment® created Ivy™, the world’s largest chatbot for the hospitality industry. Ivy has served millions of guests, automatically answering 30 percent of customer service questions in 1 second. Besides automating typical service questions, Ivy™ routes complex requests and service issues to hotel staff for improved efficiency and delighted guests. Ivy™ can also book restaurant reservations, spa appointments, and other revenue-driving services. Ivy™, uniquely powered by IBM Watson’s™ artificial intelligence technology, streamlines operations, increases satisfaction, and revenue for its hospitality clients.
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