The Future of Chatbots

The Future of Chatbots

SnatchBot Team SnatchBot Team, 22/12/2019

The Future of Chatbots

Our comprehensive guide to how chatbots will develop in 2020 and beyond.

The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for Enterprises and B2B

Artificial intelligence is the hottest talking point for business users looking to improve their efficiency, deliver new ideas and take the next steps in the transition to a digital enterprise. AI and chatbots are helping democratise business, empower startups and help build new partnerships, something that every organisation needs to prepare for.

“Every business is a technology business” was one of the mantras of the decade just concluded. Every company across every vertical and market started working and communicating with smartphones, using cloud services to open up their data and adopted as-a-service solutions to reduce the cost of doing business and broaden their business base and the opportunities for workers.

Ten years ago, specialists were needed to manage databases and build websites. Now anyone with a plan can build an entire company out of off-the-shelf parts, sell across the world without leaving their desk. They can pick advice from a huge range of sources to grow the business and partner with a massive range of organisations to deliver whatever they sell.

The 2020+ Landscape

Now as we move into the 2020s, enterprises and startups alike are taking the next step, adopting AI and bringing smart services into their organisations. It has already started with chatbots and analytics tools, but is already expanding to business-enabling technology, using a mix of machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, natural language processing, machine reasoning (MR), and deep or strong AI.

Companies will continue to deploy AI for intelligent robotic process automation, computer vision tasks, and machine learning applications. Depending on the industry, there are various parts of the business where AI will grow faster. According to a McKinsey research survey, 75% of telecoms respondents are focused on AI for service operations. 59% work on product development for high tech companies and finance companies see 40% focused on risk as their top priority.

Within automotive, 49% are focused on manufacturing. Across the responses, human resources and strategy AI are consistently in the teens, but will impact all types of business in the very near future. As the decade moves on and those lead priorities are fulfilled, every business will ask what can AI do next?

In value terms, according to another McKinsey report, AI represents between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in value annually across nine business functions in 19 industries. On the vendor side, we already see plenty of consolidation, like the Accenture acquisition of Clarity Insights to add AI and machine learning skills to its applications.

AI startups raised some $9.33 billion from investors during 2018, a number that is likely to rise into the new decade.

AI Decisions Will Impact All Businesses in the Future

Whatever your need for AI, there are many issues that will create questions for the business leadership. AI that is poorly trained or has built-in bias can produce poor business results or be dangerous for users.

Similarly, emotion-sensing AI in chatbots and virtual assistants is a controversial move. Some researchers say it should be banned from critical decision-making processes. Consider if a customer is in a distressed state and is requesting a medical prescription or a bank loan? Will their emotional state, as detected by the AI play a part in the approval process?

For those and other reasons, AI requires validation, a strict code of deployment and monitoring, and must be answerable to the board or external investigators. Black box AIs that cannot provide answers will transition to explainable AI, requiring some early adopters to shift their services.

It is therefore important to create chatbots on plaforms such as ours at SnatchBot, where the AI is proprietorial, transparent, and not dependent on third-parties.

The Rise of Bots in Business

While most businesses will have chatbots for customer service and support functions, many will develop bots for their internal processes.

Human resources is being positioned as the next quick win for many businesses with chatbots handling first-stage interviews to find promising candidates. Video avatars can make the process more friendly, while AIs can process resumes to find high-quality candidates and spot telltale mistakes, helping speed up traditionally slow recruiting processes and managing cost.
When hired, bots can manage and provide information for most of the onboarding process, allowing workers faster access to key information, forms and house-management tasks like permissions, time off and absence requests.

Bots can also boost collaboration, working as part of SharePoint, intranets and similar tools to provide key information, live updates and messages from both workers and other applications, warning of required approvals or actions to be taken. 

Virtual agents can be deployed across the business to handle internal requests and processes, from risk management to planning and budgeting. All of these can be acquired or developed in-house to meet a specific need.

Partnerships and industry-specific solutions will be commonplace, take for example, Schlumberger and Dataiku who have entered into a technology partnership for the oil exploration industry to build and deploy AI solutions across upstream workflows to deliver capabilities to petrotechnical domain experts in response to the global demand for AI. Other examples include machine learning for financial trading, roping in blockchain and other technologies to build new ways of performing transactions.

These specialist and general enterprise AI applications will generate $107.3bn in revenue by the middle of the decade. As digital business speeds up, so more companies will follow suit to keep pace with further deep AI technologies helping companies design and build entire new product or service categories toward the end of the 20s.

The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for the Customer Service Sector

Customer service is a deeply mature and embedded part of most businesses, essential for growing the company’s opportunity and maintaining customer loyalty. The drive to digital service solutions and the rise of AI-based agents is key to future success.

Customer service is increasingly an automated one, and customer relations management tools are adopting AI to build a better way of handling and expanding what we currently think of the life of that relationship. With the growth in customer service suites, larger businesses can afford to put all their eggs in one CRM basket, as long as it is the right one. Smaller businesses can pick and choose the services and features that best suit their needs, expanding as they grow and using as-a-service products to minimise outlay and capital costs.

The CRM market saw spending of up 15.6% to reach $48.2 billion in 2018, according to Gartner. Statista points to a chatbot market currently worth which stood at $190.8 million rising to $1.25 billion in 2025, highlighting its growing importance as part of the changing landscape. While that is good for vendors, it means increased choice, competition and products that are being constantly updated to add new features for buyers and end-users, creating a shifting and more complex landscape.

One of the ways vendors are improving their CRM offerings is through increased use of AI. Analysis and transcription of sales and service calls. The key to the business is the return on investment of whatever product they chose, and measurable benefits in customer service. An ROI calculator provides an easy way to measure the former in terms of both time and budget saves. But careful analytics and listening to customers is the only way to find out if their experience is improving, and if they are aware that AI is part of the reason for that improvement.

AI Steps Up Its Game in 2020 and Beyond

AI is already here, in case your business leaders were still wondering,  being folded into all sorts of products and services, and we are well on the way to second or third-generation AIs capable of increasing autonomy and responsibility in business decision making. IT and teams are probably already using various AI tools but any business needs to have an overall AI plan to ensure the right decisions are made, products adopted and that oversight and control remains intact.

AI for CRM and customer services and help transcribe sales calls, allowing for AI-based analytics to understand their nature and learn about key phrases that sales teams can work on to deliver what customers want.

With voice calls, AI analysis can also listen for signs of stress, making the system able to transfer a call to agent to get someone out of the options loop or who feels trapped in an automated service. An alert highlight will allow agents able to better empathise with these customers, and in future voice stress can probably highlight lying and deception for financial or legal services.

With growing use of chatbots, AI can help the bots learn how to handle new questions, rather than requiring script rewrites. AI can search for specific answers to more detailed questions, and also deliver the right level of friendliness, colloquialism or professionalism as the nature of the chat demands. AI chatbots can also recognise previous conversations and use them to speed up or circle back on key points.

As bots become more useful, they will become more like virtual assistants representing the company, becoming the first port of call. As they can handle, sales, shipping queries, customer support and marketing or promotions like upselling and seasonal reminders, the bot will play a key role in any business.

The Challenges of Customer Service for Business

While AI rolls out into more products many businesses face a host of real-world issues that can leave the idea of new technology firmly behind. The ramifications of an actual Brexit, changes in privacy laws, staffing turnover issues and the real risk of a massive downturn all persist.

Any customer service tool must be able to scale with the company and its products, work to an increasingly cyclical nature, while operating 24/7 and in multiple languages, as businesses start reaching out globally, and dealing with a growing range of queries.

Whatever the personal preferences of the leadership, IT can prove beyond doubt that a chatbot or AI CRM can function 24/7, in multiple languages and be easily updated. The trick comes in proving that customers are satisfied. There are many metrics to prove this point, but if a business is outside banks, airlines or hotels where bots have had the most impact, this can be a tougher sell to get leaders on side.

Therefore the key aspect of 2020 that the business will look out for is bots and AI services that come with live trials and customer success measurements built in to help businesses test the water. Measurement results may not start out great, depending on the sector the business operates in, but most well thought out bot launches achieve good results in short order.

Success ratings can be tracked by CRM across social media and other areas to get the company working ahead potential issues, rather than letting a major problem build and creating a backlash. And, as the whole of the customer service department or team become used to dealing with feedback faster, seeing where success lies and learning from failures or problems faster it can increase motivation.

Another benefit of chatbots and AI is that agents can work on the more important calls or clients, adding value, creating a better balance within the business and boosting the importance of the service organisation. As we move beyond 2021, these teams will certainly change with the arrival of AI, with more focused roles and responding to different sets of metrics, but the grim headlines over jobs being wiped out will likely be overblown.

The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for Banking and Finance

Banks remain at the cutting edge of AI and chatbot developments, seeking more secure ways of ensuring security and truth, while dealing with fast-growing customer bases that expect support and solutions to their queries instantly.

Banking and finance is a customer-focused market like no other. If your bus is late there will be another one along shortly, if the doctor isn’t available, there are many other avenues available. But if your bank is playing up, customers want answers instantly and solutions straightaway to go with the always up-to-date banking app and constant marketing offers from financial institutions.

The value of AI to the banking market will be worth some $300bn by 2030 according to reports. Most U.S. banks already have a bot among their customer service offerings, but they will grow into wealth advisors and other users in the coming decade.

Chatbots Growing Up Fast for Banks

To meet those ends, banks have been keen early adopters of chatbots with customer-facing functions including customer service, wealth advice and management, marketing, and more recently sales. Growing numbers of banks offer chatbots including Bank of America’s app-based chatbot Ericap providing key customer services and interacting with a third-party service for sending money to friends. This is on of the reasons why we at SnatchBot have launched SnatchApp, a messaging channel that allows for easy payments to friends.

Chatbot adoption varies globally, but where local branches are less entrenched or closing in numbers, we see the drive to all-online banking. Helping bridge the growing gaps between traditional and challenger banks, are the likes of Santander with Sandrine to help customers resolver over 1,200 queries across Europe and South America, Looking more attractive is Sweden’s  Aida, a female chatbot for customers with a striking visual representation to boost interest and value.

In China, HSBC launched chatbot “Xiaofeng” and “Xiaohui” in 2018 for consumer and business banking customer queries, and FX market updates. The company also launched a WeChat service account adding features like Payment Tracker and Trade Tracker for the popular Chinese social media service.

Chatbots won’t be a cursor on a screen for very long, already the use of avatars is improving their perception, but use through Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and so on will help bring them to a wider audience. Text-to-speech and voice-to-text are essential features in the future of chatbots. While in-banks, AI kiosks will take over more tasks, freeing up staff to work with high-touch customers.

They won’t only be the preserve of banks, all sorts of budgeting, financial management apps and cross-bank tools are growing in maturity and user numbers, helping people make their money work harder or just save for a rainy day. These apps will increasingly use bots to help people make good decisions and do tasks like swap energy phone or broadband providers to help them save even more.

Another major effort for AI in banking is fraud protection, with a mixture of AI and nascent blockchain initiatives to help prove identity, prevent fraudulent transactions and money laundering. As money becomes increasingly digital, tracking it for legal and balance check purposes will be essential, as customers become less tolerant of having their money taking out of a cash machine in a country they are nowhere near or through an online service they have never used.

Within banks, AI is also having a massive impact, the commonly used example Goldman Sachs who had 600 staff in the year 2000 working on its U.S. cash equities trading desk. In 2017 that number was down to two, helping oversee the machines performing all the transactions at speeds that made humans redundant.

Banking bots 2020 and Beyond

Banking bots are already evolving and the way they work will change fast too. Instead of getting a text message saying customers are overdrawn, a chatbot could pop-up and offer a series of immediate resolutions to the problem, helping the customer understand the ramifications of each.

As basic banking options grow, the bot can help customers make saving decisions in a growing range of situations, and help do the tasks that some apps offer like splitting meal bills, or paying for tickets, using blockchain or third-party tokens to ensure everyone pays their fair share.

Banks can developer their own technology or there are plenty of FinTech developers looking to bring services to market, such as that offers a proprietary natural language processing model tool. It can help support banks with customer acquisitions and by providing a personalized experience to win over customers.

Supporting banks, thousands of FinTech companies are inventing and reframing the banking landscape. The global FinTech market was worth some $127.66 billion by 2018, and should hit $310 billion by 2022.

Chatbots will also diversify, with one for the student market talking in a different way to those seeking pension advice, even if they are based on the same technology or brand. Certainly, as avatars become common, making chatbots more like their customers, a range of personas will be on hand to deliver the “right experience” to each customer. 

As the amount of information and data banks hold about customers grow, they will also use AI and graph-based services to build up a better picture of who’s a good credit risk beyond the traditional credit report. Predictive analytics and deeper AI tools will also help banks do better business between themselves and with corporate clients.

Across the front, middle and back-end of banks the AI revolution is already well underway and chatbots both for customer and internal use are a key part of that puzzle, with strong use of AI to help move the conversation along.

The 2020 Chatbot Landscape for Realty, Estate Agents and Landlords

Technology continues to play a growing role in the property market, leading to the proptech boom. Reports highlight venture capitalist investment of over $1.7 billion across 106 deals for real estate technology companies for October 2019 alone.

In KPMG’s 2019 Proptech survey, research shows solid growth with 58% of real estate companies have a digital strategy in place, up from 52% in both 2018 and 2019. Plus, 95% of real estate companies have someone responsible for leading digital transformation and innovation.

From increasingly smart and detailed property recommendations, drone videos of desirable residences to chatbots to report faults to landlords, the market continues to adopt technology early and find innovative use cases.

The benefits of AI will be all too clear to a pushed-for-time agent or office manager, with 24/7 service, ability to capture more leads, provide more information in a shorter space of time to customers and better categorise client needs. Those are the mature features that everyone expects, but recent additions to the AI roster include the ability of real estate tools to provide auto-recognition and cataloging of features and fittings from a photo of a room.

Other benefits of smart technology include text recognition and transfer of documents, contracts and other details. Also, AI predictions of when sellers might move on allow the agent to check in around that time and see how they can help. Technology can also highlight if agents are planning to leave a business, helping with retention, hiring or other opportunities within the business.

Beyond the office, apps like Linkzzapp won awards in 2019 for building e-communities around property and will continue to boom in the new decade, while services like Clever help people find their ideal estate agent. 

The realty market has plenty of choice for dedicated tools that offer greater automation or a mix of hybrid tools that provide a personal touch. SnatchBot's Real Estate Chatbot Template, for example, means you can get off to a quick and easy start in developing your own chatbot.

On the ground, live examples are springing up regularly, for both agents and landlords. Salford (UK) housing association, giving its 8,000 tenants the option to manage their own tenancy digitally, with the introduction of a portal and a chatbot. The tools improve automation, speed up repair requests and enable tenants to track issues and report other concerns including anti-social behaviour and environmental issues.

Future Benefits For All in Real Estate From AI Bots

While it is still perfectly acceptable for home buyers or renters to stare in the estate agent’s window, pick a place and talk to an agent, technology continues to speed up the process and improve sales, notably for distance buyers and those after a quick buy or sale. Chatbots and AI represent part of the new technology, enabling clients to automatically find the best-suited properties and to speed up the process.

For the realtor or estate agent, chatbots help save their time, dealing with customer queries while they are out showing other clients around and as smartphone use by all parties improves, apps and Ai can help smooth the buying or selling process and help with lead generation.

And now, artificial intelligence in real estate helps improve the speed and quality of service by providing advanced matching between buyers and properties. Chatbots can handle queries and requests from visitors on the agent’s website or social media. They can perform comparative property or budget analysis and highlight suitable and new properties to hook a potential sale.

The Chatbot As a Future Agent For Realtor and Customer

Chatbots are already respected by the industry for providing a 24/7 service, being available after closing time and through holidays. As customer’s circumstances change, a chatbot can help answer questions like, “how many 3-bedroom houses in this post or zip code” or “I need a condo near Fort Meyers, Florida for a year“ at 5AM.

The bot can also field questions from casual browsers people looking but not worth taking up your time. But when a query needs handling, most bosts can pass them on to an estate agent to give greater detail.

A good chatbot not only handles the customer, they can perform useful tasks like help schedule property viewing at convenient times for both parties, and making a good impression as part of the business. They provide a warm welcome, with as much chit-chat as needed, and then show properties by value, number of bedrooms or other criteria, all faster than a human, and just as quickly as a website, with more focused results.

When building a bot, the agent or developer can add differentiation by adding an ability to add value to any query, showing local knowledge, highlighting news of boom areas, providing related information for school ratings.

Modern bot services can remember previous conversations with a customer, and help move the process along to grab their attention, gain their interest and help guide them to a decision, making the realtor’s job easier.

To assist sellers, a chatbot can provide a quick-and-easy home value bot to encourage people looking to move on. And, as the estate agent branch or company grows or scales up, it benefits the business by freeing up time and resources to focus on making key sales, and helping move the team and business leaders to transition to a digital-first organisation.

The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for the Healthcare Sector

Globally, healthcare is a market under huge pressure with automation high on the list of CIO and CTO issues to deal with growing demand and constrained resources. Below, we provide a practical look at the chatbot opportunities for those in the health sectors, helping professional maximize their time and patients save theirs across 2020 and beyond.

From Japan’s aging population to the pressures facing Britain’s NHS and America’s costly health system, every segment of the global health market is seeking to automate as many processes as possible to drive efficiencies and deliver patient outcomes quicker. Helping deliver those outcomes is a global health tech market worth some $405 billion according to Statista.

Billions more are invested in healthtech companies by venture capital firms, with regular investments in businesses like Careology, a tech-focused cancer care startup. Its focus on enabling proactive, real-time care using a data-driven platform highlights the changing landscape for care and a reliance on automation. Over 1H2019 healthtech M&A activity hit $8.3 billion across an even 100 deals, up 11% on 2H2018.

The Future of AI and Chatbots in Healthcare

Artificial intelligence is a rising star across the entire healthcare system, from smart medical devices to personalised genetic treatments and dealing with the massive administrative infrastructure of national and local medical institutions. Telemedicine, lifestyle and disease management can all be operated through apps using big data to find the best treatments or useful regimes to keep people healthy.

Within the health services, digital medical records help provide data analytics to track outcomes and the spread of new diseases or trends in health. While in the research sector, drug discoveries are being spurred by AI trying new combinations in advanced simulations. Clinical trials are better managed by AI delivery tools and genetic research will help provide one of the boom areas for health across the 2020s.

Within each area across the landscape, there are dozens if not hundreds of companies trying to carve out business and success either at a local or global level, all treading a regulatory and, in some cases a moral, minefield while pushing for funding or revenue.

Automated Health is the Future

From GPs to dentists, admissions to the hospital ward, automation in many forms is taking over. In some hospitals, robots patrol the wards delivering medicines, meals and fresh laundry. Anyone calling for an appointment is likely to face an automated appointment system that can function across chatbots, instant voice response or an on-screen web application.

Automated GP services are on the rise, with the likes of Babylon GP creating positive and negative headlines for their exuberant early claims. And behind the scenes, AI applications can scan thousands of mamograms far faster than professional radiologists. Even so, the results, while promising require some caution:

“The evaluated AI system achieved a cancer detection accuracy comparable to an average breast radiologist in this retrospective setting. Although promising, the performance and impact of such a system in a screening setting needs further investigation.”

Chatbots and automated diagnosis can also play a role in mental health care. Many people are afraid to talk to their doctor, counsellor or a charity about issues, but are happy to discuss them with a chatbot. This opens up the possibility of them seeking further help, with the bot able to provide them with a direct contact who will already be able to understand the case thanks to the chat transcript.

A range of mental health chatbots are seeing positive results, helping people start that all important conversation about their issues While virtual nurses like Sensely’s Molly can guide patients through management of chronic conditions. Using a mix of machine learning, body recognition and speech understanding, Molly can provide patients with customized monitoring and follow-on advice.

Benefits and Concerns Across the Health Industry From AI Bots

Chatbots and virtual doctors are appearing across all parts of the healthcare market. From pre-primary apps and services like your.MD that provides personalised guidance to general health queries to Woebot who deals with mental health problems.

Whatever the bot or specialty, medical developers need to build bots that overcome the trust gap between many patients and automated services. Using friendly user interfaces, graphical menus for children and developing non-technical language options are all key to building trust with bots.

There is also the need to clearly explain privacy, security and legal issues surrounding any chat. Usually many pages long, these need to be succinctly paraphrased in a few sentences, with the option to email the full text for later review.

Beyond the simple chat, there is also the opportunity for ongoing conversations with bots that act as full-time caregivers. Apps are already available to let the likes of Alexa provide medicine reminders and can help those struggling with dementia or other degenerative conditions keep on top of their day.

Apple has also made headlines with its Apple Watch product providing health alerts through the optical heart sensor. This has helped people seek early diagnosis for serious problems like irregular heart rhythms.

All of these areas require bots and services that are smart, reliable and engaging with the patient or consumer. People will also want a single source of information, rather than one app for diet advice, one for exercise and another for health matters, likely creating a landscape that revolves around strong ecosystem players.

Drawing on these current experiences into the future, we envision full-scale bots as part of the household that provide elder care or disabled assistance, including lifting and bathing to improve quality of life for both the patient and family. All of these devices will require interactive digital concierge or virtual assistant services, linking to health professionals or digital advice on demand.

The ultimate cost of these AI services should be small compared to the savings in healthcare produced by better living, earlier diagnosis and access to good advice. Reducing the burden on the medical services, moving more care to the home and giving professionals more time to deal with acute cases, AI could make healthcare better and more affordable for all.

The 2020 AI and Chatbot Landscape for the Hospitality Sector

Hospitality continues to walk the line between the personal touch and the benefits offered by automation, AI services and chatbots or guest assistants. In 2020 and beyond, the pressure to automate and add value for customers or guests will grow.

The hospitality sector continues to make great use of AI assistants and chatbots. With steady growth in the market, with revenue of US$368,359m in 2019 expected to hit US$432,095m by 2023 for a CAGR of 4.1%, according to Statista, businesses need to boost customer satisfaction and operate more efficiently to maximise gains.

From improving the quality of service, adding extra in-room and beyond-the-foyer features to make a guest’s stay more of an experience, and passing off common queries to bots for a rapid answer with none of the lag of traditional services, hospitality is one of the leaders in the successful use of bots and AI, with proven value for the business.

Much has been made of the success of Rose the AI working 24/7 at The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas. Her track record shows guests that use her services spend some 30% more in the hotel than guests who don’t. They are also around one-third happier when they check out. More recently, Edwardian Hotels London has launched Edward a bot that has helped over 30,000 guests from 99 countries speaking 59 different languages, managing 69% of all guest requests in 2019 and saving staff approximately 95 working days, allowing them to work on more personal customer service related tasks, while boosting guest survey scores and reviews.

Yet, nothing stands still, and guests are already used to in-app room service, and hotel chains are looking at managing the customer relationship beyond their stay. Those hospitality venues that aren’t AI-enabled are fast moving to adoption, with Oracle’s recent survey showing 80% of hotels want a bot up and running for 2020.

Artificial Intelligence, Bots and the Internet of Things Changing Hotels

The Internet of Things is a key changer for hotels, allowing huge numbers of smart devices to be managed within one network. Smart rooms can provide additional comforts, from advanced personal climate controls to delivery services. While beacons can track guests and provide further services by the hotel pool or in the business suite to keep them happy.

Beacons, hotel tablet devices or on-screen menus can push sales and offers to customers or guests, while some hotels providing a tablet as a smarthome-like controller for every aspect of the room from lighting, mood settings, climate control and entertainment, with access to many extra internal and external services.

These devices provide plenty of data for the business to analyse using AI tools, with machine learning algorithms helping provide more accurate key metrics, satisfaction scores and enabling businesses to improve their decision-making capabilities.

Hotel chatbots provide the most personal link to the customer, helping them making bookings, accept orders during their stay and provide access to post-stay feedback, helping the company resolve any issues before they might post a public review on a hotel rating site. That data from a wide array of interactions and can help provide a better experience next time for the customer and help improve the overall service for all guests.

The more training and practical data a chatbot can access, the better it performs, improving customer service and we expect advanced deeper AI in 2020 and beyond to make them work even smarter. Bots will also be used as a revenue earner, helping happy customers spend more and helping resolve the issues of unhappy customers to get them in the right mood for upselling or other benefits.

Guest retention strategies and marketing based on customer data including purchase history, lead management, push notification responses and other areas will also help keep guests coming back. Oracle has a useful PDF on how AI can improve the guest experience for hotels. From the simple things like a call-a-taxi feature in the app or bot to booking cinema or opera tickets for a night out, AI and bots will be a key part of further service and feature integration.

The Future of AI In the Back Office

Hotel chains already rely on property management systems (PMS) to handle their customers and room management. The use of AI can be used in retention strategies and when planning what features to add during hotel refurbishments or future builds.

Even though the mainstays of bed-and-food with an alarm call remain unchanged, the ability of hotels to predict future trends through analytics and deep AI suggestions could play a pivotal role in leadership decisions in the new decade.

As the booking market becomes more competitive, booking and revenue management applications will be increasingly important with AI tools able to shift availability to sites with the best price for the business.

The New Wave of Technologies for Hotels

One further addition through new technology will be the arrival of private 5G networks that are cheaper to manage and offer a better service than traditional WiFi systems. These will play a key part in delivering Internet of Things management to larger hotels and chains, along with better energy efficiency management and helping to boost environmental credentials.

And, as automation improves, robots delivering towels, linen, breakfast and other needs will help provide service as robo-hotels become more common in the effort to improve employee time management and minimise working hours. Digital avatars as concierges will help in this effort with brands looking to build the perfect host in virtual form to maintain that personal touch while automating all parts of the stay.

Whatever the hotel from boutique to chain, there is always room for further efficiency behind the scenes, and at the front desk to in-room experience. AI, bots and in-room technology will all play a part in this progress and businesses resistant to it will look increasingly behind the times.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How have chatbots evolved, and what’s next?

Chatbots started out by sticking to a script, often replicating an existing help list of FAQ offering questions and simpler answers. Modern bots can better understand the user, identifying keywords in their input that guide the conversation. New and future bots accurately understand the whole syntax of a user’s input and can offer specific and relevant information to each part of a complex question. Sentiment analysis can monitor individual chats and the overall theme of all chats to help guide a business on how customers feel and what the company can do to improve or boost positivity.

What drives future chatbots?

A mix of natural language processing and understanding (NLP and NLU) are already found in AI chatbots. Natural language generation (NLG) allows bots to respond in a similar tone of voice to the user to build up a rapport. Features like mood tracking and a better understanding of the customer will also help them provide an improved service. Persistent bots will remember previous conversations and can compare them to guide options and user choices.

What can make our brand’s bot different?

Chatbots can increasingly be given a smart and adaptive personality that makes each chat unique more memorable. Bots can learn about their brand identity and use it in a chat to reinforce perceptions or offer new information. As bots evolve with voice and avatars, the personality can grow and evolve.

What are the business benefits of bots?

Chatbots started out as a simple replacement for basic customer service. They are now a critical part of many service operations working alongside higher-level support. Beyond customer support, bots appear in robotic process automation tasks (RPA), ERP and CRM suites to provide greater efficiency understanding and will feature in office and collaboration tools to help teams and departments function more smoothly.

Will lifelike-sounding conversations help or scare customers?

Most bots still fail the Turing Test, trying to replicate a human in conversation. However, that isn’t the point of most bots, and people are notably concerned about bots that try to imitate people (plus the legal ramifications if a company tries to pass off bot support as human). The business aim isn’t to replace people but to provide a service that makes them feel comfortable, and bots with limited personality and scope can perform this task admirably, with AI working in the background, not trying to “play” human.

Are AI chatbots a data risk?

As these new bots link to more services the risk of sharing identifying information grows, something that all developers have to watch out for. But, with strong compartmentalization and security techniques, bot chats should remain secure and private.