With the progress artificial intelligence and machine learning has made, combined with the growing attention from the media, the related field of voice recognition is also on its way in the daily life.
This report was prepared to evaluate technology trends in the hotel industry, trends for voice recognition and the combination of both fields. In this context the report discusses a voice enabled artificial assistant to create a better experience for hotel guests of Hilton Hotels & Resorts.It is based on literature, various online sources and studies conducted by several consulting companies.
Hotel industry technology trends
Next to hostels, motels, private rented rooms and other accommodation providers, hotels are a crucial part of the hospitality industry ecosystem. In this ecosystem the current technology trends impact the hotel in several different ways. As a global operator of full-service hotels Hilton Hotels & Resorts (Hilton) is affected by the trends in the hospitality industry (Hilton 2018a). New competitors like AirBnB have emerged and compete for a market share. Existing competitors in the hotel industry are Innovating to gain an advantage. And last, the customer behaviour is influenced by new technologies.
In this business report the following definition for hotels is used: An establishment providing accommodation, meals, and other services for travellers and tourists (Oxford University Press 2018). This broad definition emphasises the challenge for hotels to keep their unique position amongst the other market players. To expand on this definition a second definition will be used. Hotel chains are Hotels like Hilton, managing a number of different hotels and are able to set all kinds of standards (e.g. technology) for all of their hotels. Therefore Hilton has competition on the whole hospitality market and in the hotel industry competition is executed by companies showing huge similarities to Hilton.
AirBnB and other less known companies brought two new trends to the hospitality industry. They combine the principles of sharing economy and scalability of a platform business (Aznar, Claveria, Sayeras & Segarra 2018, p. 1-2). Platform businesses (Amazon, EBay, and AirBnB) only became feasible after technological advances in the last two decades. These peer-to-peer platforms pressure the hotel industry by applying lower prices and by offering a high degree of personalization (Oskam & Boswijk 2016, p. 35; Aznar et al. p.9).
Within the hotel industry certain technology standards have been set. It can be differentiated between information technology (IT) services impacting the hotel infrastructure (e.g. replace existing paper based systems), enhance operational effectiveness and improve customer services (Law & Jogaratnam 2005, p. 172). Here the focus will be on the customer services. Internet access, Wi-Fi, television, radio, telephones and video on demand are the standard for most hotel rooms in hotel-chains using Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham Worldwide (No. 1 hotel-chain by rooms) as example (Hilton Honors 2018; Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific 2018 ). Competitors like Marriot international are experimenting with new technologies, especially in the service sector, trying to create competitive advantages (Hotel Management 2018). It has been shown, that service innovation has a positive impact on guests choosing their hotel (Victorino, Verma, Plaschka & Dev 2005).
Over time customer behaviour is always bound to change and every industry has to react to it. In the recent time for the hotel industry a big prompt to change customer behaviour is online marketing. Particularly metasearch engines like booking.com or trivago.com enabled the customers to easily compare, rate and pick their favourite accommodation for the best price.
Voice recognition in the hotel industry
In this business report speech recognition, a sub-field of voice recognition will be examined. Voice recognition is the ability of computer software to identify the speaker (Macmillan education 2018; WebFinance Inc. 2018). In contrast speech recognition is defined as the ability to process spoken commands and respond to them. To formulate a response the software will split the input in its smallest parts and will analyse those, while referring to the given context as well (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2018). Amazons Alexa and Apples Siri are just two well known examples. If voice or speech recognition is mentioned in the context of this report, then always the speech recognition abilities of the technology should be considered.
IT applications can improve many areas in the hotel infrastructure. Front office applications and guest-related interface applications are the areas where speech recognition can be of great use (Anil Bilgihan et al 2011, p. 141-143). Categories in these areas, where speech recognition can be applied are: room service, housekeeping management, In-house guest information functions, guest-operated devices, auxiliary guest services and more.
The hotel industry is constantly evolving to match customer needs and new trends. Regarding the service section a spectrum of used technologies can be seen. On one side competitors are experimenting how to implement voice based technologies in their service portfolio. On the other side hotels still exist where every service has to be booked personally via phone calls or at the reception. Currently Hilton is positioned between the middle ground and the innovators. As an anchor in the digital world Hilton has the Hilton Honor App. The app offers functions for booking, check-in, navigation, as a key and more (Hilton Honors 2018b).
Online marketing is another application for voice or speech recognition in the hotel industry, which will not be subject of this report, but is still important to mention. Search via speech recognition shows strong growth in general (Statista 2018). This also impacts the hospitality industry and is in process to change how marketing works in the industry (Hotel-Online 2018).