Here's How Best Western Hotels is Using Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to Augment the Travel Experience for Its Guests
Digital technology is at the forefront of almost all business these days, and Best Western Hotels is among those innovative companies employing artificial intelligence and big data to great effect.
Before the end of the Second World War, hotels were largely individual operations and didn't have much to do with one another. However, beginning in California, a handful of hotels struck up an unofficial relationship where they each would refer travelers to other hotels in the area when their own rooms were full. This informal network eventually grew to become the company known as Best Western Hotels, when the business was formalized by M.K. Guertin in 1946.
Today, Best Western has over 4,000 locations worldwide - with over 2,000 in the US alone. The company has revenue exceeding $370 million, making it one of the largest hotel businesses in the world.
Maintaining this position, however, has meant Best Western has had to stay on top of all modern trends and innovations and, in 2018, this means digital technology.
One of the ways in which Best Western is bringing digital technology into the day-to-day operations of its hotels is with artificial intelligence (AI) room assistants. There are many such devices on the market from manufacturers such as Google, but Best Western has opted for the Amazon Echo device, which is powered by its proprietary Alexa AI software.
Echo devices installed in each room will enable Great Western guests to get information without necessitating a call to the concierge's desk. Whether the guests are looking for ideas on local tourist attractions, restaurant recommendations, theatre listings, or more, they can simply ask the device in their room. Alexa can even perform actions such as booking an Uber for the customer.
Guests who feel uncomfortable with the idea of a piece of digital technology listening in on them while they're in their rooms can opt out of the service - and even those who don't are instructed on how to mute or disconnect the device.
The AI room assistant experiment is still in beta testing stage. However, Best Western Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Pohl has been pleasantly surprised at how few people have been put off by the initiative. "It really provides some great customer service as well as efficiencies, and it's the way many guests want to communicate today. So far, no Best Western guests have opted out of using the devices, and I think it's going to continue to be more and more a part of our life and how we do business in the future."
Another way Best Western is leveraging the power of digital technology to improve the way in which it delivers its services is with an innovative partnership with big data experts OTA Insight. OTA Insight specializes in helping its hospitality and property clients with streamlining their revenue management procedures.
The main function of the implementation of OTA Insight's software is it will allow Best Western to monitor rate fluctuations at the touch of a button - enabling it to achieve rate parity across its portfolio of hotel locations.
"We're looking forward to introducing our rate management tools to a globally recognized hotel group", said OTA Insight CEO and Founder Adriaan Coppens. "I am thrilled to be collaborating with Best Western to help deliver more profitable revenue strategies thanks to the support of our technology. Best Western Hotels & Resorts will benefit from our clever rate parity tool and brand-new parity dashboard to monitor live pricing, solve rate issues and execute pricing strategies accordingly."
The implementation of this innovative software and the insight gleaned from the data it generates will allow Best Western to remain competitive and agile in a rapidly shifting marketplace. Combine this ability with added-value digital technology - such as the Echo devices installed in guest rooms - augmenting the Best Western Hotel experience, and it's clear the company still has a lot of tricks up its sleeve.
The final word goes to Best Western Hotels & Resorts' Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Ron Pohl.
"Following an extensive search for a partner who could meet our needs, we determined that OTA Insight would provide us with a dynamic market-leading data analytics solution. The platform allows us to monitor data in real-time to stay ahead of competitors in this complex and fast-paced online distribution space. We're very excited about the potential of this partnership with OTA Insight as we strive to optimize distribution and deliver higher RevPAR [revenue parity] to our hotels."
You can hear Best Western Hotels' Vice President of Marketing, Tammy Lucas, speak at Digital Travel 2018 in April/May at the Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa, Nevada.
Download the agenda today for more insights and information.