How AI Technology Can Solve the Hospitality Industry’s Greatest Challenges

In the last two years, the hospitality industry has gone through a series of unprecedented changes that have forever altered the business. After overcoming the seemingly biggest threat to travel in recent memory, we are left with a new lasting challenge—a serious labor shortage.

While travel was not the only industry affected by these turbulent times, the labor shortages have dealt a critical blow to the way hotels operate. Now hotels face everything from short-staffed reservation departments to underperforming front desks staff and beyond. The current labor shortage is, without a doubt, affecting the way most hotels operate. But it doesn’t have to.

In 2022, we now have technology that can convert leads to reservations, answer FAQs, and communicate across any language without further burdening hotel staff. No longer do hotels need to rely solely on overworked reservations departments or live receptionists who are often busy handling other tasks.

To understand how technology can be harnessed to solve the greatest modern threat to the hospitality industry—labor shortages—we must first understand how today’s labor shortages affect the day-to-day operations of hotels.

Reservations – the revenue generators of your hotel.

When your reservation department falls victim to labor shortages, calls get dropped, guests are left frustrated, and sale leads fail to convert. When a customer calls your reservation line, they expect to be immediately put in contact with a helpful and knowledgeable hotel representative that can quickly book their stay.

Instead, when a customer calls an understaffed reservation department, they’re forced to jump through hoops and blindly follow cyclical call bot patterns for longer than they care to. The result, as you can imagine, is a significant loss in business.

Whether your reservation department is critically understaffed during these turbulent times, or they are depending on outdated IVR systems to handle the large call volumes associated with the recent travel rebound, chances are they’re falling to effectively convert leads to reservations.

In our most recent article (Does Artificial Intelligence Have a Place in The Travel Industry?), old-fashioned IVR systems create more problems for the customer than they solve. If you’re depending on IVR to handle your large reservation call volume, your callers are more likely to have a frustrating call experience that could result in a missed opportunity to book a reservation with a new customer or even the loss of business from a would-be returning guest.

Hotel Operations – your guest’s first, best, and last impression of your hotel.

Not only can labor shortages affect your reservation department, but they can have a serious impact on the day-to-day operations of your hotel.

Staff shortages across all departments in the hospitality industry can negatively impact your guests’ experience at your hotel. For instance, if your front desk is short-staffed, guests are left waiting in long lines to check in, ask simple questions, or get the concierge’s help. Staff shortages in other departments, like housekeeping, can leave your hotel struggling to keep up with modern standards of cleanliness and leave guests frustrated.

Across the board, labor shortages in the hospitality industry will lead to a decrease in reservations and guest satisfaction. This, in turn, will lead to bad reviews, which will only further decrease the likelihood of future reservations.

Modern problems require modern solutions.

Given the extent of today’s labor shortages, the hospitality industry must find a cost-effective solution to combat labor shortages while still meeting the increasing demands of travelers in 2022 and beyond.

In today’s current economic climate, attempting to meet your hotel’s staffing demands the old fashion way could cripple your business. Instead, look for a technological solution to help your hotel meet the intense reservation demands of the current travel rebound. Annette™, The Virtual Hotel Agent, aims to be the modern technological solution to today’s complex hospitality industry problems.

Unlike traditional IVR systems that leave customers frustrated with cyclical call redirecting, Annette™ represents the next generation of artificial intelligence technology that can hold multi-turn, sophisticated conversations.

The Technology Behind the Solution.

Annette™, the first AI-powered virtual agent dedicated to hotel guest service, is specially designed for use in the hospitality industry. Unlike outdated IVR call systems, Annette™ understands what callers say, no matter how they say it.

Annette™ is engineered as a voice first platform, designed to answer your guest’s question. When callers interact with Annette™, they get a near-human personal experience that cannot be replicated by any other call bot. That’s because Annette™ boasts a sophisticated Natural Language Understanding system (ConveRT) specially designed for customer service use. This helps Annette™ achieve best in class caller engagement by accurately understanding any customer’s request, even when they speak in long-winded sentences. Callers can interrupt, digress, and even change subjects without Annette™ missing a step.

Numerous other features and abilities are available as well. Annette™ can handle call routing, create a personalized experience using local accents, offer transfer options at any time, communicate in any language, send follow-up text, accommodate frequent updates and changes, handle restaurant calls, and more.

The results that speak for themselves.

According to Kimberly Berry, Director of Digital Business Development at Travel Outlook, “With Annette™, you can expect as much as 60% of the calls now being handled by the front desk to be handled by Annette™. This will result in an 87% reduction in call center service call volume and a 30% agent utilization decrease.”

When your hotel encounters the complex problems of a changing world, Annette™ offers a technological solution to help your business adapt. As the next generation of customer service-specific artificial intelligence technology, Annette™ will bring the hospitality industry into the future.

Looking for ways to addresses hiring and staffing challenges and control front desk labor expenses?

Learn more about Annette™, the first AI-powered virtual agent dedicated to hotel guest service.

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John Smallwood, President

About John Smallwood, President of Travel Outlook

A veteran in the hospitality industry, John has owned, developed, and managed hotels for many years. After earning a BBA from New Mexico State University, he started his career with AT&T, gaining invaluable insight and experience in the early years of the data revolution. His experience in technology and hospitality merged in his development of Travel Outlook, the world-class hospitality contact center. More recently, he has branched out with the creation of ExpressRez, the premier contact center for the Bed and Breakfast industry, and with the creation of Annette, the first AI-powered voice bot for the hotel industry.

About Travel Outlook

Given its progressive approach to the voice channel – in terms of performance, training, transparency, testing and the tools used to measure performance – Travel Outlook Premium Hotel Call Center has become the premier voice reservations team in hospitality. Travel Outlook’s valued client list includes Viceroy Hotel Group, Outrigger, KSL Resorts, Proper Hospitality Group, Pacific Hospitality Group, Highgate Hotels, The Irvine Company, Catalina Island and many others. Travel Outlook’s team and approach increases sales conversion and helps to create more effective voice communication between hotels and their guests, resulting in improved social scores in addition to increased voice channel revenue. For more information, visit

About Annette™, The Virtual Hotel Agent™:

Annette is an AI powered virtual call center agent that represents the next generation of voice bots designed specifically for the Hospitality industry. Annette has been programmed using a breakthrough approach to voice bots, a system built from human conversations. Using social media, chat forums, and movie dialogue, Annette learns from billions of casual human conversations to understand human inflections and multi-turn queries. This revolutionary approach means Annette understands callers no matter what they say, when they say it, or how they speak. Annette can answer FAQs specific to your property, understand multiple languages, route calls, send follow up texts, and more.

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