2022 is the year of chatbots and conversational AI. The technologies and developments in this space have been incredible in the last few years, but most hosts and property managers aren’t even aware that these technologies are available!
What is a chatbot?
Simply put, a chatbot is a computer program that simulates and processes human conversations allowing humans to interact with digital devices as if they are communicating with real people.
Chatbots and conversational AI can be used by AirBnB hosts to automate the majority of their communications with guests, and depending on what types of integrations an AirBnB chatbot has, it can take over conversations even during the pre-booking and booking phase!
The Artificial Intelligence used by AirBnB chatbots allow these programs to understand what guests are talking about, and the context in which they’re saying it in. And the best ones can look at previous conversations to pull relevant information and learn in real time, giving guests pretty much whatever information they’d want without ever having to involve a host.
Here are 10 reasons why every AirBnB hosts needs to use a chatbot.
1 - Instant Responses
Getting responses back to guests in a timely manner is hugely important. According to Hubspot, 90% of customers consider an immediate response to be an extremely important metric for customer service queries. Mosts hosts and property managers, however, are unable to get back to their guests the moment they send a message.
More often than not, guests are left hanging for 10, 15, or even 30 minutes before they get an answer about trivia questions like WiFi, Air Conditioning, or Parking. Being able to automatically answer the vast majority of a guests questions in under a second is a huge boost for the guest experience.
2 - 'Round the clock 24/7 customer support
Much as AirBnB hosts would love to be awake 24 hours a day to respond to guests and be in touch with them, the reality is that during busy daytime hours and most nighttime hours, the ability for hosts to respond to guests is really really limited.
By deploying chatbots in AirBnBs, guests can get responses to all sorts of questions instantaneously, 24 hours a day. Restaurant recommendations at 10:00pm? No problem! Booking questions at 3 in the morning? No problem! Cleaning supplies and trash bags after a party at 5:00am? No problem!
3 - Optimized guest support and customer service experience
Not only do chatbots provide your guests with 24/7 support, they also give you the ability to optimize your entire customer service and guest support experience as well. This type of optimization is most pronounced while potential guests are making a booking decision. The vast majority of people who are looking at short term rental and vacation rental listings are not going to book. But many of these people reach out to ask questions about the rental.
Things like how far away it is from the beach. Is the pool open. Is the rental pet friendly. And so on. These conversations take up a lot of time, and handling them promptly is an excellent way to increase the probability of a booking. However, you can only increase this probability so much. At the end of the day, 80% of the conversations you have will result in zero revenue, meaning you’ve spent all this time for nothing! If you can automate the vast majority of your booking conversations, you’re immediately eliminating the negative impact of spending time on non revenue generating events.
And most importantly, your guests can ask whatever questions they want and get the information they need to make a booking decision before they get impatient and look at other options.
4 - Reduce your staff costs dramatically
Right now, the average guest support professional can support 25-30 units. This means that even the smallest property managers will be spending at least $40,000 on guest support every year. Property managers with 150 rentals or more often see a large percentage of their overhead being devoted just to guest support and service!
Using chatbots gives AirBnB hosts / property managers the ability to deploy customer service professionals in a much more thorough way because a) they don’t have to employ as many and b) the remaining customer support staff will have much more time and bandwidth.
5 - Increase direct bookings
More and more hosts are relying on personalized websites and direct bookings to drive a large percentage of their revenue. Especially large scale hosts with hundreds, if not thousands of properties. Because so many of these bookings are coming through their own sites, they need a good way to keep guests interested and make sure that they book with them.
Embedded chatbots that can answer questions about the rental in real time and guide guests through the booking process are a fantastic way to boost revenues.
6 - Upsell opportunities
Efficiency is a hugely important benefit of chatbots and conversational AI, but it’s not nearly the only one. Another big impact that chatbots can have on an AirBnB’s bottom line is the increased opportunity to upsell and drive more revenue. Presenting guests with upsells for additional nights, additional services, and upgraded rooms and amenities can be done in a natural, conversational, and easygoing way.
You can partner with local restaurants and places of interest to increase their exposure to your guests and give your guests the best deals possible. You can also upsell during the booking process by offering them bigger rooms and more amenities and using chat to make it easy for them to change their booking.
7 - Personalized experiences and guidance
According to Google, 57% of travelers would like to see their interactions personalized to them based on their personal preferences and past experiences and behaviors. Chatbots and conversational AI systems can look through previous interactions that a guest has had and make sure their future experiences are tailored to their specific needs.
They can also engage with guests before they arrive in a conversational way to get all the information needed to ensure guests have the best experience possible. Food restrictions, room service time preferences, what color sheets they’d like, basically anything that would help a guests stay be a 5-star experience every single time.
8 - Personalized Marketing
There’s no getting around the fact that most marketing materials and emails never get read or reacted to. This is because most marketing emails aren’t personalized at all and never really resonate with guests.
Text messages, on-site messages, and messages through platforms like Facebook and Instagram that are tailored to who your guests are, are much more effective at getting them to return, refer, and avoid the generic interactions that usually happen in hospitality marketing.
9 - Automatic translation and multi-language support
In today’s connected world, being able to communicate effectively with guests from all over the place is absolutely critical. However, hosts aren’t sometimes going to find themselves in situations where they’re not able to understand their guests and vice versa. By using a conversation AI platform, translation can happen automatically and seamlessly!
10 - Building long-lasting relationships with your guests
Repeat visitors and referrals can account for a HUGE percentage of an AirBnB hosts revenue. And the best way to ensure you get as many of these repeat guests as possible is to develop a relationship with them and keep them in your ecosystem.
Conversational AI and chatbots allow you to stay in touch with your guests in a personalized and interactive way. By keeping the conversation going and keeping them in the loop about promotions, deals, and whatever else you’d like them to know, you’ve made sure that your rentals and your brand are top of mind for them.
Where's the technology now?
Conversational AI technology has improved rapidly over the past few years and has reached the point where many, many brands have either deployed or are seriously considering deploying conversational AI and chatbots to augment their existing customer support and service operations. Given how receptive to these technologies people are and how useful they are to vacation rentals, adopting chatbots in AirBnBs is a must.