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ChatGPT: Is automation the secret ingredient?

Op-Ed: Paul Hadida asks can Australia’s vibrant hospitality and accommodation industry leverage AI and automation to save time and money?

It’s easy to forget that ChatGPT is still less than a year old. Since launching in November 2022, the generative AI phenomenon has captured the world’s attention, becoming an incredibly useful – yet controversial – tool for individuals and businesses alike.

From writing blogs to assisting with copy for websites or proofreading and editing, over two billion are using the software and feeling the benefits every month.

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Every industry has opportunities to benefit from AI and automation. Australia’s hospitality and accommodation industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and while it has evolved, adapted and overcome, challenges remain. Increasing food prices, a cost of living crisis, and staff shortages mean businesses are attempting to do more with less. So, it begs the question, how can Australia’s vibrant hospitality and accommodation industry leverage AI and automation to save time and money?

ChatGPT: Unlocking time, efficiencies

Few things are more valuable for operators in the hospitality and accommodation industry than time. ChatGPT assists venues in saving valuable time and resources, by automating previously time-consuming and mundane tasks.

Content development, for example, is a crucial task for businesses as it improves SEO, social media, marketing and discoverability. However, it’s often an area that gets put on the back burner as priorities – like hosting guests, researching new recipes, or managing stock and supplier – take precedence. That’s where ChatGPT can help.

ChatGPT can analyse masses of data across the internet to suggest what a venue should say – based on either its own content, or that of other similar venues. It does so in seconds, rather than hours, days or even weeks, enabling venues to create the custom website page copy, blogs, social media posts and email marketing that are essential for targeting omnichannel consumers.

ChatGPT also has the capability to regionalise messages. For example, if you’re part of a global hospitality and accommodation group, ChatGPT can also localise content within different markets. For example, “takeout”, “fries” and “vacation” in North America would be tweaked to their Australian equivalents, “takeaway”, “hot chips” and “holiday”. And for businesses with diverse clientele, ChatGPT can translate content into different languages, so everyone receives personalised communications and experiences that incentivise loyalty.  Communication is key, after all.

Communication is key

Hospitality venues receive many emails and messages every week – from reviews to general questions. Depending on the size of a business, it could be hundreds, if not thousands. That is a drain on resources for any size business. Through ChatGPT, venues can automate responses entirely, or use templates that can be tweaked to specific enquiries. Not only does this save time for operators, but it looks like a human has personally responded to each request. This makes customers feel valued, which boosts loyalty.

With more people booking at or ordering from hospitality and accommodation venues via their website, ChatGPT can be integrated into a venue’s site in the form of a chatbot or message widget. For example, if a guest wants to know more about cancellation policies or special birthday requests, a chatbot could automate the answers to their questions through FAQs, saving them from making a phone call or sending an email.  It also allows venues to facilitate reservations, and even process orders online.

Ultimately, it frees up the time for staff to greet guests and provide meaningful face-to-face experiences that can’t be automated. And for the more novel, creative factor, ChatGPT can assist in developing menus, recipes and special occasion calendars and campaign ideas.

Embrace automation

For all the recent hype over ChatGPT, automation is not a new innovation. It’s been driving business efficiencies and growth for years and will continue to provide tangible, practical benefits for decades to come. Many of the industry-leading businesses in the hospitality and accommodation industries are already building their foundations and front-of-house excellence on automation and their technology stack behind the scenes.

With labour shortages and cost of living increases, venues, more than ever, need to leverage technology to automate time-consuming, mundane, and non-revenue-generating tasks that once required human involvement. Through tools like SevenRooms, venues can automate reservations and online orders, use QR codes to enable guests to order and pay, and even collect approved guest data that can be used to drive personalised automated marketing based on an individual guest’s needs and wants.

When businesses can automate previously time-consuming, manual processes – through ChatGPT or, more strategically, an integrated, automated technology stack – they’re better placed to overcome challenges and spend more time delivering the face-to-face, meaningful interactions that turn one-offs into regulars, and boost revenue and retention.

By Paul Hadida, General Manager APAC at SevenRooms

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