Home Hospitality Drinking Games, Garfield and the Future of AI

Drinking Games, Garfield and the Future of AI

I literally can’t turn on my computer anymore without another pop-up company, telling me they’re going to ‘revolutionize the travel planning ecosystem with deeply integrated generative AI architecture’. What they actually mean is that they’re going to clumsily write “how to organize trip to miami” into ChatGPT’s API, and then present the result on screen. Truly revolutionary!

With all the hype surrounding AI, it’s easy to think that this will just be another flash-in-the-pan tech idea that’ll blow over in a few months – remember how game-changing the metaverse was going to be for us all? At HITEC this year, we heard one well-known management group discussing a new idea for a drinking game; take a shot everytime someone mentions AI. Agree to this, and you’d be pretty drunk before finishing the long walk to the exhibition floor – not a great sign for an industry that’s traditionally slightly late to the party with adopting new technologies.

I’m currently reading a lot about how AI is going to impact the future of hospitality … and that’s nonsense. It’s impacting it now, today, used by people who understand how it can free them from time-consuming tasks that don’t always need a spark of human creativity to complete. When I talk about AI in this context, I’m specifically referring to generative technologies such as ChatGPT, Bard and Claude … but there’s a growing place for technologies like Midjourney, DALL-E and Runway in the industry. There’s a number of places where you can find more technical information on these models, and how they work, but that’s not what I want to focus on right now.

A great deal of talk around AI adoption in the hotel industry has been at a very high-level. There’s talk of how it can influence everything from guest check-in to AI-driven robots cleaning your room, but most of this potential may still be some way off – and that’s before we consider the customer’s response to it.

But what about its potential, right now?

What can AI do for your hotel today?

At three&six we wanted to focus on what generative AI-based tools are available for you to use today and how you can use these in your everyday hotel operations.

-Guest Review Management-

We all know the importance of responding to guest reviews, both good and bad, but it is still a time consuming task that falls to already overburdened hotel staff. With our platform, Henry, we have designed a valuable resource designed to assist hotel operations staff to effectively engage with guest reviews in a fraction of the time it takes to write manually. From scanning the review to discover the sentiment to pulling out the finer details, Henry will craft detail-rich and conversational responses for you to use as they are, or build on in more detail. And, because you can’t please everyone all the time, it even crafts responses to negative reviews … without admitting liability for any loss, damage or injury that might have been sustained.

You can try a completely free version that allows you to generate a single response at a time, here.

-Hotel Rate Marketing-

Revenue Management is an art form in itself, but marketing each expertly created rate plan often falls outside a Revenue Manager’s area of comfort. As a result, rate plan copy on websites and booking engines is minimal, and it’s often followed by a long list of uninviting terms and conditions. RateMate has been designed to help Revenue Managers and sales professionals produce compelling copy in a fraction of the time it would take to write manually. Simply enter in a couple of details about the rate, and off the tool goes, saving you time on yet another repetitive task.

The next version of the tool will provide suggested alternative names for your rate plans. You’ll soon have no excuse to “Fall Into Winter Savings” or “Linger Longer”. No excuse.

You can use this tool, free forever, at this link.

The Garfield Test

With great power comes great efforts to try and get it to do something stupid or dangerous. We should probably talk a little more about security. Where there are certain guardrails built into the direct models themselves, companies might want them to be a little tighter with some of the tools they develop. But sometimes they don’t always get it right.

Take the case of a well-known European tour operator, who enthusiastically launched a chatbot to help its customers on resort book excursions … which was quickly convinced to give a recipe for napalm when given a few instructions. Even some of our own industry publications’ new chatbots, designed to only speak about the business of travel, could be convinced to provide a recipe for lasagna after a short interaction. And yes, whilst that second piece of software failed what we’ve called ‘The Garfield Test’ in other companies it may highlight the weaknesses in protections against prompt-injections or wider security issues. Whenever we locate a weakness in an AI-powered tool, we always reach out as quickly as possible to help them plug the gap.

So, is AI here to stay?

If you want the TL;DR – yes, it absolutely is.

But once the initial boom has passed, I think you’ll be less and less likely to notice where it’s being used. As companies get better and better at using it, and we drop our initial skepticism of the robots taking over, ideally it will slot into place as a co-pilot of productivity, freeing up humans to create, relate and ideate. Are positions going to be eliminated? Yes, they are – but this is a by-product of progression throughout history. New jobs will be created, existing jobs will get easier, and our industry stands poised to benefit in such a powerful way. So, instead of raising a glass every time AI is mentioned, perhaps it’s time to toast to a future that is already here?

Ben Hanley

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