Welcome to Trendline, a bi-monthly newsletter created in partnership between The Gettys Group and TrendWatching. Here, we will examine TrendWatching’s global insights into numerous industries through the lens of hospitality, considering the possible implications and applications to our industry.
In each issue, we will focus on one of TrendWatching’s sixteen Mega-Trends—their comprehensive list of the ways in which human needs and expectations are changing while defining modern consumerism.
In this issue, we will examine Joyning—the core instinct to connect with others—another keystone of hospitality. These are connection between team members, with guests and between guests.
Hotels have always been environments that facilitate and support the interactions and connections that occur between guests—but why is this more relevant than ever today?
Call it “the Airbnb effect”: the expectation that there will be a connection between the “guest” and “host” (such as communication and an offer of assistance).
Credit Pine & Gilmore’s book The Experience Economy in setting expectations that hotels will provide experiences that can be shared—thereby facilitating the connections between those sharing them, whether physically or virtually.
We are interacting with, relying upon and forming relationships with virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence (AI), leading to a new form of connection.
We have more platforms than ever before upon which to connect—arguably too many. We are also more reliant upon technology to provide information and guidance than ever before. TrendWatching’s 2018 Trend Report examines how the evolution of these two trends has created another: AI-powered, virtual assistants are making the leap from assistants to companions.
Consumers who are deeply accustomed to digital assistants, chatbots and name-brand entities like Siri and Alexa are now looking for the next evolution of their digital interactions; they are seeking out virtual personalities that have the power to entertain, educate, befriend and heal.
One example of a Virtual Companion comes from U.S.-based Luka; called Replika, their free app chatbot uses AI to befriend and support users, like a virtual best friend asking great questions and generating conversation.
What could this mean for the future of hospitality? Could hotel brands be companions? As always, we discussed this with TrendWatching’s Max Luthy, Director of Trends & Insights.
Your AI Friend—Grow Your Own: Replika keeps the conversation going while you are on the run, offering encouragement and companionship.
The Gettys Group: There seems to be an interesting opportunity here for the hospitality industry. Hotel brands—particularly ones with more personality—can develop a next-gen interactive bot that can respond to guest requests with a combination of personal responses—like a request for more pillows—and with AI-assisted responses—like restaurant recommendations in the area based on a deeper knowledge of the user.
TrendWatching: Absolutely, there is a great opportunity to integrate virtual assistants into the hotel guestroom environments. Some hotels, like the Wynn Las Vegas, have put Amazon Echos into suites and guestrooms to open curtains, turn on the lights or the TV, play music and more. But this is just the beginning; giving the assistant the “voice and personality of the brand” would be a great build on that technology.
Extending Their Care During Your Stay: Dutch airline KLM introduced the KLM Care Tag, a GPS-enabled device that works without an internet connection to provide Amsterdam-specific insights and recommendations.
TrendWatching: But this technology doesn’t have to be confined to the guestroom, of course. As KLM proved with their Care Tag wearable, these hotels could provide walking tours, and even customize them to match the desires of the guests. It would be similar to taking the concierge with you on your journey.
The Gettys Group: Sure, and with a geolocated, interactive AI app like Replika, you could talk to your virtual companion as you experience the guided tour or recommended restaurant, offering valuable feedback for the hotel’s future recommendations to you and others.
Google recently—and eerily—demonstrated a virtual companion called Google Duplex that communicates with deceiving humanity, complete with “ums,” “mhmms” and “gotchas.” The evolution of AI is happening at—well—the speed of Google, which is leading to new ways of interacting with these virtual companions, providing more and more information and support.
Hotels are just beginning to experiment with applications of the available technologies. We see fascinating possibilities on the horizon that will bring the personalities and brand promises of each hotel brand to life as virtual assistants and companions.
For a complete list of Mega-Trends and more examples of trends being spotted around the world, please visit trendwatching.com.
Trendline Issue 01 / Helpfull
Innovations that make life easier will always be welcomed. Now, they are becoming expectations from customers accustomed to ongoing, post-transaction support from product and service providers. How can hospitality brands respond to this trend in consumer behavior?