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18 & 19 SEPT 2019


The AI revolution steps up a notch

Let’s set the scene, in a prototype of the hotel of the future in Madrid, receptionists are replaced by mirrors and mattresses with sensors. Yes, that’s right, in a bid to benefit from lucrative personal data, the travel industry is embracing the emergence of never-before-seen technologies. 

The emergence of such novel technologies was brought to the fore at Madrid’s Fitur tourism fair, which served up a prototype of the hotel room of the future, featuring mirrors equipped with facial recognition in replace of receptionists, enabling guest to check in by themselves. 

Once the client is identified, the room adapts itself accordingly to meet the demands made at reservation by each of the guests, concerning the temperature, lighting, and whether the guest would rather Picasso or Van Gogh to appear in the digital frames hanging on the walls.  

''Technology will allow us to know what the client needs before he even knows he wants it," says Alvaro Carrillo de Albornoz, head of Spain's Hotel Technology Institute, which promotes innovation in the sector.

Notably, some hotels are already starting to tap into the complexities of the technologies showcased in the prototype, but it’s safe to say the room prototype put on show by French technology consultancy Altran, aimed at luxury hotels, is on a whole nother level Kitted out with ingenious speech-recognition technology,  guests are enabled, for instance, to order a pizza in 40 languages. 

Even the lock is intelligent -- it opens and closes via the WhatsApp application on the client's phone," says Carlos Mendez, head of innovation at Altran.

Perhaps most impressively, the showcase displayed a mattress equipped with sensors and records the movements of those sleeping, which could prompt hotel staff to offer them a coffee when they wake up.

In the wider scheme of things, hotels are generally looking to use artificial intelligence (AI) to get better knowledge of their clients via personal data provided on reservation or "beacon" technology used once the client is in the hotel or resort. Leveraging the beacon technology would entail placing one in the hotel, enabling it to detect customers’ smartphones, enabling hoteliers to establish how much time they spend in their rooms, for instance, or the time they head down to the pool. 

Having captured the data, AI algorithms will be able to determine the clients’ habits, enabling each hotel to offer a tailor-made experience which could serve to lure their guests to return.

If the algorithm "knows that when you come to the hotel with your wife, you don't eat at the restaurant but order room service, it will propose a special room menu with a bottle of champagne", says Carrillo.

"But if you come with your entire family, it will propose a reduction on kids' menus."

For Rodrigo Martinez, head of consultancy Hotel Servicers, these technological tools could also help improve hotels' operations and efficiency/

"All purchases can be made automatic," he says.

"For instance, if a huge number of Brits are coming, the system will know that it has to order more bacon."