Hotel executives say artificial intelligence will provide efficiencies, not replace the human element.

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NEW YORK — As the hotel industry stresses how and where to use artificial intelligence for greater efficiency, hotel executives say human-to-human interactions will be prioritized in the industry. Will be at the forefront.

Speaking at the “Aligning Stakeholder Objectives for Power Performance” session at the 2024 NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, Joseph Bojanowski, president of PM Hotel Group, said technology is taking more mundane tasks off the plate of hotel employees. will play a key role in giving

“Whether the technology is robotics, machine learning or artificial intelligence, our first target is highly repetitive tasks or transactions to move them into technology,” he said.

For now, at least, MCR Hotels chairman and CEO Tyler Morris said artificial intelligence is all the talk.

“No one is actually using it,” he said. “Everyone has been on ChatGPT and checked it out, and it was supposed to be a fun parlor game. But it's not actually being implemented or implemented in hotels. We're a people-oriented business. Most of our team members are consumers. Talking to.”

But Greg Friedman, managing principal and CEO of Peachtree Group, said hotels will have to use AI to manage labor costs.

“I hear Tyler's comment because this is a people business, too, but at some level, we can find efficiencies in the staff and really provide a better guest experience,” he said. “When you look at the future, AI is going to be here much sooner than 10 or 20 years. All these tech companies are going to invest and find ways to disrupt services and deliver software more efficiently. are doing.”

Warren Fields, president and CEO of Pyramid Hotel Group, said hoteliers may not let AI take over their business in a big way, but it will have a clear place in practices like accounting and billing.

“Anything where you have data input by a human, you should be able to do that with some kind of technology,” he said. Fields added that the guest-facing side of a business should always be built around human-to-human interaction.

Ambridge Hospitality CEO Craig Smith said he rolls his eyes when he hears the implication that “AI is the solution to everything in the hotel industry,” but he believes there are clear use cases. .

“You think [online training] Or predictive modeling for predictive scheduling, I think that's going to improve over time,” he said. “I think with revenue management, as much as we think we're doing revenue management. As an industry, I think we have a thousand miles to go. , and I think AI — maybe not the AI ​​you'll see with Apple but a more JV version of AI — is going to help with that.”

Making a point about how small hotel companies sometimes misunderstand the power of brands and how customers relate to them, Morris sparked a direct conflict among the panelists when he said “ At the end of the day, the asset we're all selling is a bed and a shower.”

Fields took exception to this, saying the hotel industry is increasingly focused on selling experiences and that hotel stays are meaningful opportunities for many guests.

“These are the kinds of things we're in this business for,” he said. “It's not for selling beds and showers. We're selling for fun.”

Morris said he disagrees, but feels like the hotel industry sometimes values ​​style over substance.

“Lifestyle hotels are like taking a pair of jeans, cutting a hole in them, putting some paint on them and saying they're not pants anymore,” he said. “They're still pants. They just have a hole in them.”

Fields said the two would “have to agree to disagree.”

“All the lifestyle hotels we have are great,” he said. “We have everything. [sorts of experiences]. We have tree houses. They're not just pants.”

Read more news on Hotel News.

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