As the AI chatbot technology keeps evolving, more and more industries are using it – hospitality and tourism, the health industry, e-commerce, the financial industry, retail, real estate, and many more. It is expected the chatbot market to increase with an average annual rate of 32.27% by 2025 according to the leading research agency Market Watch. Today many SMEs are recovering from the impact of the pandemic crisis. The post-pandemic opportunities for them are to become part of the digitalizing world to stay competitive. Customers got used to self-service tools and expect businesses to provide such ones. Despite the challenges with the workforce and the need for instant online communication 24/7, there are still businesses that have doubts about the chatbot technology and need more time for acceptance. The hospitality industry is one of the industries that is awakening slowly towards hotel AI chatbots.
AI chatbots are becoming more important for hotels and hospitality businesses. New research by Site Minder from January 2022 shows that the boom of direct traffic for hotels globally in the past year brought the hotel website’ ranking to the top 3 hotel booking revenue makers in most markets, covered by the research. Making sure the website is interactive by having an AI chatbot on it, is becoming a hotel necessity to make sure the hotel can answer all guests’ questions and needs. It is not surprising therefore that in 2022 the chatbot implementation and offering by hotels will increase by 53% (64% among the independent hotels), according to a survey from January 2022 by NYU Tisch Center of Hospitality и StayNTouch PMS.
Also, 73% of travelers want hotels with self-service tech according to a new research study by Oracle Hospitality in partnership with Skift, “Hospitality in 2025: Automated, Intelligent… and More Personal”. Hotel guests want to use their mobile devices to manage their hotel experience, including checking in and out, paying, ordering food, and more. According to the same study, 77% of travelers are interested in using automated messaging or chatbots for customer service requests at hotels. Therefore, it is worth sharing successful examples to show how this technology helps the hotel business, the hotel guests, and the employees. Let’s tear down the story of a successful implementation of a hotel AI chatbot and review the amazing results it accomplished and continues to deliver.
The beginning of the fairy tale story
It was the National Day of Bulgaria (3rd of March) when the first guests arrived at the newly opened 5-star hotel Casa di Fiore SPA and Medical. While the in-house guests are greeted at the hotel lobby, the website visitors and online guests are welcomed 24/7 by the hotel AI chatbot – the sweet Miss Fiore. Well, let’s start from the very beginning – the birth of the idea, the need and the concerns, the actual implementation, then come the awesome results. The hotel owner and the team wanted the hotel services to be as digitalized as they can before the opening of the hotel. They wanted to meet the many challenges that the hospitality industry was facing, so the hotel team chose to digitalize their services that traditionally happen face-to-face or through the phone.
“Our team has a lot of faith in technology, and we are working to implement it in the sector. The work in the field of tourism is voluminous – from the reservation, through its confirmation, accommodation, and offering services. That’s why we decided that we will rely a lot on technology to optimize these processes”, shared Antonia Sarafova, the marketing manager of the 5-star hotel Casa di Fiore SPA and Medical.
The 5-star hotel Casa di Fiore SPA and Medical is situated at the beach of the Northern Black Sea coast, in the heart of the pretty resort village Kranevo, Varna. It has 184 rooms and 4 apartments, warm mineral indoor and outdoor swimming pools, SPA and medical facilities, an amazing garden, beauty salons, fitness, and many other hotel services that help the guests to relax and feel like they are at a fairy tale place for their holiday. The size and the type of the property and the variety of services however mean a lot of routine questions and inquiries by the hotel guests day and night, before, during, and after their stay.
The birth of the idea of Miss Fiore and its launching
Meet Miss Fiore – the face of the hotel and the always-smiling digital assistant greeting all guests at any time of the day. The hotel AI chatbot Miss Fiore was part of the idea to digitalize customer communications with the hotel along with other digital services to meet international trends and customers’ expectations.
Creating Miss Fiore and implementing it on the hotel website was part of the initiative and of the needed automation and had to be properly planned to work in favor of the business, the hotel employees, and the guests. Choosing a name for the hotel AI chatbot and creating an avatar were also part of the brand marketing communication for attracting more interest to the chatbot with artificial intelligence. The idea behind this was to create Miss Fiore with a sweet and fairy character that would be always online to assist the guests and help them make a direct reservation through the chatbot. The hotel wanted to solve the problems of a lack of employees and high turnover during and after the pandemic with the implementation of a digital employee that is part of the hotel family. Miss Fiore was created on the Umni platform and started working immediately after its implementation with the given by Umni conversational AI module with over 760+ hotel topics and 10,400+ customer questions which allowed the chatbot to answer questions from day 1. The first expectations of the team were that the technology would be difficult to use and would take too much time of the employees for its implementation. That was just their first thought which quickly changed when the staff saw how easy the Umni platform is to use without the need for any technical knowledge and skills – just a few rows of code need to be implemented on the business site.
“We were able to implement the chatbot very quickly on the hotel’s website, and the information on the chatbot itself and the answers to the questions took about a week to set up. The most interesting part is the ‘Offers’ section, as we’ve positioned it as the first one after opening the chatbot, and there all our guests can easily see what our current package rates and special discounts are.
We are continuing to build on and improve the features of the chatbot as our guests use it quite often and even ask questions that we didn’t think to include, thus helping us expand the knowledge of our virtual assistant,” adds Antonia Sarafova.
Miss Fiore growth
After implementing the hotel AI chatbot with its main functionalities activated: predefined information and promotion sections created and connected, inquiry forms built and answers provided to the pre-trained conversational AI module, came the next step: integrations.
Although there was a room reservation form available for customers that needed personal assistance with their reservation, the next logical step in the AI chatbot development was to integrate it with the hotel reservation system, WebHotelier. Implementing this integration allowed hotel guests to easily book the desired room for their stay through the chatbot in a conversational manner, therefore opening one more automated sales channel for the hotel that was triggered by questions in the chatbot about room availability, the price for a certain period of time, seasonality, stay for a number of people and other types of guest questions.
Now Miss Fiore guides the guests in Bulgarian and English by answering their questions instantly, helping them find and book quickly and easily a room based on their requirements, and assisting with more information about the hotel facilities and surroundings.
Miss Fiore has a main menu that includes complete information about the hotel, divided into several sections. These include the room types, check-in information, restaurants, information about the pools and the thermal and SPA area, the events and offers, and common information about the beach, parking, Wi-Fi, and other services. Since the hotel complex is also family-oriented, the hotel AI chatbot has a special section for children, where all the necessary information for them is provided.
“Our plans for the future are to use Miss Fiore more and more in our advertising campaigns and as a contact person for the hotel. The capabilities of the platform are very comprehensive, and we will try to make the most of all of them in the digital marketing and online advertising aspects of the hotel.
We are also looking at options to start using the chatbot function to request services within the hotel and for this, we will need to build a good internal structure and further improve in terms of communication between departments and duties of different units,” says Mrs. Sarafova about the development plans of Miss Fiore.
Miss Fiore is too cute to keep it secret
No chatbot is looking for its customers itself, so the hotel had to promote and popularize its cute digital assistant. It happened that the grand opening of the hotel was on the same day as the chatbot launching and both events were greeted by a big party. The hotel marketing team also created a video advert for Miss Fiore. The hotel uses in the AI chatbot with different poses of the avatar, to show the rooms and the other facilities to popularize it and attract guests. This was a 2-in-1 win – a promotion of the opening of the hotel with the promotion of the hotel AI chatbot to increase guests’ interest in both, to help them make a reservation – a new opportunity to drive higher conversions. The avatar of the chatbot is also used in social media posts for attracting guests with special offers and promotions, with guides on how to get them by making a direct reservation through the bot.
Creating a story about Miss Fiore and featuring the AI chatbot as a topic of an article on the hotel website was another way to promote the hotel AI chatbot and make it popular among hotel guests.
Miss Fiore’s recognition and path to success
The 5-star hotel Casa di Fiore SPA and Medical participated with their hotel AI chatbot project in the Digitalk&A1 Awards competition by Kapital for the most successful Bulgarian projects for new technologies implemented by businesses. Although they did not win the competition, they for sure have won a digital employee on their side (site). Miss Fiore is always available to assist guests 24/7/365 and she is made on the Umni platform without any technical knowledge and skills of the hotel team assigned to the project. They made it and maintained it successfully and now, after 12+ months of work, Miss Fiore continues to achieve amazing results. There is no doubt that the hotel AI assistant as part of the overall digital strategy of the hotel has assisted in the success of the hotel despite the post-pandemic and economic difficulties that lead to the award of “The Best Sea Spa Hotel 2022” given to the hotel by the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and Spa Tourism (BUBSPA)
The amazing accomplishments of Miss Fiore:
For the first year (2022) of its duty, Miss Fiore achieved:
- 83,543 users assisted in Bulgarian and English, even if every customer took only 1 minute to be assisted by the chatbot, for 12 months Miss Fiore has chatted with guests almost 1,390 hours. This is the work of one person on duty every month! Industry statistics show that a conversation with a hotel guest takes on average 6 to 12 minutes. Miss Fiore also took the night shifts, the weekend job, and the duties on holidays.
- Over 545,000 actions in the chatbot including searching, scrolling, clicking and chatting in just 12 months
- Saved close to 7,000 working hours to the hotel employees (the work of 3 to 4 people on duty every month)
- 62% of the communication is via mobile phone which proves that customers use more their phones for self-service from any place they are
- 39% of night chatting (up to 45%) that many guests searched for information outside of regular business hours
- 32% of requests were submitted at night. That many people made their decision for booking a room or service or needed assistance with certain questions before going to bed.
- On its busiest month of the year, Miss Fiore had close to 61,000 interactions by users with over 4,000 customer interactions on its busiest day – that’s cool, right? Looks like guests love to interact with the smiley assistant!
- The hotel AI chatbot has integration with the WebHotelier reservation system for quick and easy room booking through the chatbot
- Among the top 5 most frequently asked questions were questions about room availability and prices which justifies the need and the implementation of integration with the hotel reservation system for direct reservations through the chatbot.
This is the place to mention that Miss Fiore learns from each interaction with each customer and with time passing it began covering more and more questions on new hotel topics in addition to those that were added on Day 1 of its implementation on the hotel website. Many customers say “Thank you” to Miss Fiore which is the highest valuation of its job… and some guests look like even do not recognize talking to an AI chatbot when communicating with Miss Fiore.
“An interesting point is that after we created the chatbot and Miss Fiore as a brunette avatar, we were able to find a girl to be the model for the hotel’s photo shoot that we likened to the real Miss Fiore. This way, guests, and all of us now imagine the image of the girl answering the questions, and it’s as if the communication is with an actual person who is present in all the photos on our website and online. This way we intertwined the virtual image with a real one and it turned out very spectacular and real”, says Antonia Sarafova.
Miss Fiore continues assisting hotel guests day and night. We wonder what it will accomplish, how it will develop further in its assistance to guests and employees, and how it would look after 1 year and more, and we hope for it to be greater!
We hope we have motivated you to look at AI chatbot technology with this inspiring story of Miss Fiore. At hotels or other businesses, the AI chatbot is a must-have tool for customer communication, assistance, sales, and marketing. When well executed and properly maintained and developed, the AI chatbot is a digital companion that customers would love to chat with. Do not hesitate to start the creation of your digital assistant.
If you are a hotel owner or manager and still have questions and doubts about which technology to choose for your hotel tech stack, check the digital replacement of the paper hotel compendium! Check the pros and cons of all digital alternatives of the compendium and why the chatbot is the ideal solution before continuing your job. We have collected the most important information about the hotel AI chatbot in one place for you to make sure you will not miss a valid point while making the decision. We are sure you will start considering having a hotel AI chatbot on your side (site). Contact us for more information and go follow our LinkedIn account for more inspirational material every week!