AirBnB chatbots are the 21st century version of really experienced, involved, and responsive concierges that are available to guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many industries are using conversational AI and hospitality is one of the last big industries to start deploying chatbot technologies to optimize their businesses.
So What exactly are chatbots?
Simply put, chatbots are computer programs that simulate and process human conversations allowing humans to interact with digital devices as if they are communicating with real people. More specifically, chatbots for AirBnBs are programs that use NLP/U (Natural Language Processing / Understanding) to figure out what guests are asking and give them the answers and information they want accurately and quickly.
Why chatbots are so important right now for AirBnB property managers
Over the last few years, instantaneous responses have become a huge part of what drives excellent guest experiences and customer satisfaction. Whether it’s e-commerce, airlines, travel, hotels, or vacation rentals, consumers are broadly expecting immediate responses. In fact, Hubspot, one of the leading CRMs estimates that 9 out of 10 consumers consider immediate response to be very important.
However, achieving instantaneous responses at scale is extremely difficult. Especially in hospitality where guest interactions happen 24/7 and the gap between peak demand and minimal demand is huge. There are times where 100% of your units will be booked and times where 10% of them will be booked. Quickly scaling up the number of customer service representatives for peak demand and letting them go weeks later when demand drops is impossible. This doesn’t even take into account events where you might have tons of cancellations or reservation changes like those brought on by a winter storm, hurricane, etc. Good like trying to add another 30 customer service reps on the same day to deal with the hundreds of calls and messages!
Many parts of the hospitality and travel industry are already adopting chatbots and conversational AI. Airlines were the first to do this in a big way to help travelers check in, check flight statuses, confirm bookings and reservations, and help them get to the gate on time through automated alerts and notifications. Three quarters of airline companies plan to adopt conversational AI and chatbots in the next couple of years.
Chatbots as a management tool for AirBnB hosts and property managers
Running and growing an AirBnB business requires constant contact with your guests, and as property managers scale, this becomes one of the biggest challenges they face. Building an effective customer service and guest engagement staff is enormously difficult and there are many factors to consider.
- You always need to be prepared for peak demand even if occupancy is really low. Rapidly scaling up the number of customer service representatives is almost impossible, and unless you’re prepared for high demand, your existing staff will get burned out very quickly.
- Customer service and guest engagements now happens across every channel imaginable. It also happens 24/7. This means you need staff to handle communications on channels like Instagram, AirBnB, text, facebook, whatsapp, and more at all hours of the day. Presence on all these channels increases demand for customer service.
- Onboarding effective customer service representatives takes a lot of time and is expensive. Keeping these people focused on crucial guest interactions is important and can be achieved by offloading the repetitive and easy to handle events.
Chatbots let you solve many of these challenges. First and foremost the ability to automate a large percentage of guest interactions is probably one of the most transformative things you can do from an efficiency perspective. But equally importantly, chatbots and conversational AI can go a long way towards improving the overall customer experience.
The majority of guest interactions are going to be repetitive and simple. Usually along the lines of check in time, check out time, address, lockbox code, etc. Human responses to these types of questions are complete overkill. And because it’s hard to filter these questions in real time, you quickly end up in a situation where qualified, trained, and professional guest experience and customer service personnel are, for the most part, dealing with things they are completely overqualified for. And this leads to poor employee satisfaction and rapid burnout.
By deploying chatbots and conversational AI to handle the simple questions and conversations, you free up staff to deal with the stuff they’re trained to deal with, and you avoid the repetitive work that leads to burnout. Staff can now focus on truly improving the guest experience and engaging with guests in a way that boosts loyalty, repeat visits, retention, and more 5-star reviews.
Growing AirBnB businesses through automated customer experience
Chatbots and conversational AI are also powerful tools which hosts and property managers can use to boost revenues. The majority of travelers feel like the hotels they visit and the rentals they travel to should tailor their experience to them based on information they already have. Things like food preferences, pillow preferences, and other small things that have an oversized impact on ratings and reviews.
Conversational AI can be used to achieve this in multiple different ways. For example, an AirBnB host could deploy an AI concierge to chat with guests before they arrive to get as much information as possible about their preferences. They can then use these preferences to tailor the stay and leverage the importance guests place on personalized stays.
Conversational AI / chatbots can also be used to drive more revenue. You can automatically engage with guests to see if they’d like to upgrade their room or rental. Or see if they’d like to extend a night or two. Or even keep them in the loop about deals, promotions, and special incentives offered to your most loyal and satisfied guests.
(There’s a lot to write about for this so we’ll be doing so in another blog post shortly)
Due to the decentralized nature of AirBnB and vacation rentals, and due to the massive explosion and consolidation within the industry, hosts and property managers need to be adopting the most up-to-date tools and technologies. Whether it’s to boost efficiency or supercharge guest experiences, the advances in conversational AI go a long way towards making hosting as fun and as profitable as possible.