The chatbot agency Umni’ team is also involved in the fight against the virus. The startup announced that it will provide free of charge production, implementation and months of support until September 01’20 on a basic hotel chat, in Bulgarian or English, to all new customers within the company’s potential capacity.
Umni is focused on creating, maintaining and training AI virtual assistants for hotels and other businesses. Last year, the company received the Best Hotel and Restaurant Software 2019 award from Smartourism.bg and became known for making the first city tourist chat in Bulgaria, Plovdiv City Concierge. Umni’s CEO, Elitza Stoilova, entered the technology world after 22 years in the tourism industry, holding positions as General Manager and Director of Sales and Marketing at hotels and a tour operator, and have the unique view on both the tourism industry and the need for technology in the industry.
Question: According to World Travel and Tourism Council, 1 million people worldwide are losing their jobs in the tourism industry daily because of the Covid-19. What will happen as a result of it? Process optimization, cost cutting, including downsizing, closing businesses?
Answer: Each of these options would happen in stages in the businesses as a measure of survival, depending on how long the crisis will last. In all cases, however, we need to think about our life, work and business after the crisis, after 3, 4, 6 … 12 months, 2 years. Five years. Where do we want to be? As bad as this virus is and the economic crisis it causes, history has shown it many times: they will pass, we will survive it.
If it is for each of us, we need to invest in education, training, learning new things – we will need this knowledge to be in a better place tomorrow, to be more competitive and to live better in the post-crisis world.
If it is for a business, now is the time to analyze all operations, products and services, find everything that is subject to optimization, digitalization and automation, and implement the necessary technologies. Competition after the crisis will be aggressive – for customers, for maintaining the business place in the market and for new markets, for experienced staff, and those who are mobile, online, flexible and fast, and there whenever customers need them – in just a second – will be successful businesses. This cannot happen the old way of doing business – “because that’s how we are used to do it.” Maximum use of technology and investment in innovation and in educated people will be needed.
Question: Why you think the chatbot would be helpful to the hotels?
Answer: Someone has to work, accept requests and respond to customers 24/7 even when no one is in the office, when the business is temporarily closed. This can be done by chatbot. The crisis will pass, and customers will return. First, domestic tourism will begin to recover – we see it now in China, and historically it has been like that after other crises, but not at such a speed that businesses can quickly return to their normal levels of work and business models. Businesses will have to rely for months on a very small team to provide customer service for the customers, which will be not enough for picking up. Chatbot can fill in the gaps, take on tasks and communication, and help the hotel optimize the work of available staff for greater business and customer benefits, with less cost.
Also, customers after COVID-19 will be much more comfortable with technologies and would look for self-service solutions when face-to-face communication is not necessarily due to social distancing and safety awareness.
Question: What the hotel chatbot does and why you choose to help hotels?
Answer: We have clients from different industries, but the hotels are predominant, and with them our team has the richest experience. We can’t help everyone, but we can help the hotels!
We will invest our time and work in as many hotels as we can in the coming months. What we offer are free configuration, implementation and months of support until September 01’20 of a basic hotel chatbot, in Bulgarian or English. Configuration time will depend on the number of requests.
Hotel Chatbot operates 24/7 on Facebook Messenger and the hotel site in 1 or more languages and can assist multiple clients at the same time. It helps with, directs and automates requests for hotel services, such as accommodation, massage, restaurant table, room service, transfer or other service. In addition, the chatbot automates frequently asked questions through a ‘conversational AI module’, saving staff’ and customers time and saving hotel resources.
Question: When is a good time for a hotel to implement a chatbot and how long it takes?
Answer: Creating a hotel chatbot depends on how quickly the hotel can provide the necessary information. With the fast response from the business, the implementation of a basic chatbot can occur within one month. We think now is a very good time for this activity because most or all of the hotel’s activities are paused and this situation will continue for at least 1-1.5 months, if there will be some season. It’s a good idea to have a chatbot already deployed and operational when the first customers start writing questions to the business and submitting their requests.
Question: Is there anything special about your hotel chatbots?
Answer: Umni’s Hotel Chatbot Management platform, MyBot allows the hotel to confirm or deny requests received through Messenger and processed by the chatbot, with 2-3 clicks, to create and offer promotions and service rates directly in the bot, to keep up-to-date chatbot replies about hotel services and territory, and receive up-to-date statistics about the consumer behavior for marketing and planning – all from one place. By the way the chatbot become also an assistant to new employees and help in their training by providing them with an answer on questions that are new to them.
The very special feature is the centralized database of frequently asked questions behind the conversational AI module. Our hotel chatbot’ database currently contains over 350 hotel topics with over 3,000 customer questions. By the end of 2020, we plan to exceed 1,000 recognizable hotel topics!
Question: How the hotel customers will find out about the hotel chatbot?
Answer: This is one of the good sides of this technology. The hotel chatbot and the individual request forms have their own URL link and QR code. This allows the hotel to direct customers to the chatbot or a request form from anywhere online and offline: email, social media post, SMS, brochure, menu, flyer and other collaterals – with 1 click for the client. Leave a QR code in a visible place in the room or elsewhere where the customers traffic is high, and customers can self-service themselves in booking a service with minimal intervention by the hotel staff.
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The newest version of a basic hotel chatbot you can see below: