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Hospitality Host Co has brought Book Me Bob (BMB), an AI chatbot founded in New Zealand, to Asia to help hoteliers here sharpen their customer service amid manpower strains.

Created in 2019, BMB facilitates direct bookings for hotels and addresses guest enquiries at all times of the day. It is said to be suitable for all types of properties, and is presently supporting 80 clients.

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Book Me Bob’s chatbot facilitates direct bookings for hotels and addresses guest enquiries throughout the day

Winnie Chui, managing director of Hospitality Host Co, said she has seen a spike in AI product interest among Asian hoteliers over the past three months, driven by the need to cope with returning international travellers while staffing constraints remain.

“Customers want instant communication,” Chui noted, adding that BMB can help with that.

BMB is part of Microsoft’s Highway for 100 Unicorn programme in 2021. Its knowledge brain has more than 400,000 intents/questions that are related to hotels and resorts, and is continuously learning. It is programmed with 15 different languages, and can determine the local language based on the customer’s IP address.

BMB can make bookings, take payments, provide an e-commerce gift system, and suggest experiences to help the end-user select hotel rooms.

Hospitality Host Co offers hoteliers a 30-day renewable contract, with the flexibility to cancel anytime. Hoteliers need only to fork out a one-off setup fee and a monthly maintenance fee that is based on the hotel’s star offering and room inventory.

According to Chui, the cost of deploying BMB is just 10 per cent of an average staff salary and takes seven to 10 days to set up.

Hoteliers also have the flexibility to pair BMB with a human staff who will take over the final stretch of the purchase process to close the sale.

Communications are enhanced with BMB’s connection to services such as Facebook, Google Business, WeChat, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

As a sales conversion tool, BMB has been able to turn five to 10 per cent of AI chatbot conversations into bookings. As a “new channel for bookings”, Chui said BMB provides the quick response that travellers want.

Case studies conducted by Hospitality Host Co found that both front- and back-of-house operations have benefitted from BMB deployment. With telephone enquires cut by 20 to 30 per cent, staff can be freed up to handle other essential duties.

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