AI & The UAE
Is utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) within your business a key priority? There is massive potential for new technology like artificial intelligence to be used by the Hospitality and Foodservice sector. In 2017, hospitality and tourism were identified as one of the priority sectors in the UAE for AI to be utilized in, alongside logistics, transportation, healthcare and cybersecurity. AI can be used to improve customer services, assess government performance and increase living standards.
It is part of the UAE's ambition to be at the forefront of the global technological revolution. The country is looking forward to becoming a testing ground for the worldwide development of AI technology. The UAE appointed Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama as their first Minister of AI and it is the world’s first and only country with such a position.
The hospitality sector in the UAE is competitive. Technology can be a key weapon in the arsenal for players in the industry to create a commercial edge. The challenge for hotels within the region is to leverage technology to remain ahead of the competition and increase profits. This blog talks about the different ways hoteliers in the UAE are using new technology to improve the guest experience and increase profits.
Utilizing AI technology in Hospitality
Hotels are in the business of customizing the guest experience. With the use of AI, hoteliers can see exactly what the customer prefers and tailor the guest experience to the customer. AI can also be used to make the entire experience seamless for the guests. The impact of new technology on travel and tourism is multi-dimensional, ranging from voice and facial recognition, chatbots and beacon technology to virtual reality, blockchain and robot concierge.
Atlantis Hotels in partnership with Digital Ecosystem are on the lookout for AI technology that can help them capture guest feedback and suggest additional on-site activities for these guests to be a part of, based on their responses and previous activity. Atlantis Dubai has already rolled out a blockchain system that gives guests a wristband or a digital wallet to charge all their services during their stay. This technology also supports their loyalty program.
The Shangri-La Hotel, Abu Dhabi, spread across 214 rooms, has successfully implemented a state-of-the-art Guest Automation System. When the hotel reservation system switches to “Occupied” status from being “Vacant”, the room temperature is automatically adjusted to an ideal level as guests head towards their room. The system also provides valuable operational data such as staff response to the guest call, energy saving data, room occupancy status, etc., and reduces manual errors by the hotel staff significantly.
Emaar Entertainment, a subsidiary of Emaar Properties has opened a VR Park combining Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (VR), providing rides and games. Emaar Hospitality Group is also on the lookout for startups utilizing AR and VR in ways that can showcase and assist in the visualization of past, present, and future Dubai tourist attractions and sites.
Emaar Hospitality has partnered with Winnow to bring Winnow Vision, an artificial intelligence tool, that helps chefs run more profitable and sustainable kitchens by cutting food waste in half. It allows kitchens to automatically track food waste. It uses computer vision (a form of artificial intelligence) to help chefs easily pinpoint waste, cut costs and save time.
Another fantastic example of AI already being used in the hospitality sector is of Marriott Hotels. Their mobile app Marriott Bonvoy allows guests to check in via the app and get a notification when their room is ready, with physical keys not required to open the room as the app does the trick. Guests can chat with a chatbot and also request any of the hotel’s services through the app before, after or during their stay.
As you can see from these examples using AI in hospitality doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating the personal touch. Hospitality is always going to be an industry that needs and benefits from human contact. Implementing new technology in the business is more about eliminating friction points and creating a more customized experience for the guest.
AI is a major part of UAE Centennial 2071 - a five-decade government plan to prepare the nation for future generations by investing in technology and innovation among other things. In April 2019, the UAE launched a national strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) with the aim of positioning the UAE as a global leader in artificial intelligence by 2031.
What the research shows
Currently, 18 percent of businesses in the UAE believe that AI is their most important digital priority, and this number is only rising. 94 percent of all the companies in the UAE have reported AI involvement in their executive management level.
According to research conducted by Colliers International, personalization Artificial Intelligence (AI) could increase hotel revenues by over 10% and reduce costs by more than 15%. Hotel operators can expect technology such as voice and facial recognition, virtual reality, and biometrics to be mainstream by 2025.
The research also estimates that 73% of manual activities in the hospitality industry have the technical potential for automation, with many global hotel operators including Marriott, Hilton, and Accor already investing in automating elements of their human resources. We are at the brink of the next Industrial Revolution, powered by technology like artificial intelligence. These technologies are quickly maturing, the hospitality and travel and tourism industry must prepare for a wave of disruption in order to reap the overall benefits of these technologies. If we do not move with the times we risk getting left behind.