IHG launches AI-powered rooms in Greater China

The high-tech suites will fully embrace voice control technology to deliver a more natural human-computer interactive experience. Photo credit: InterContinental Hotels Group

Artificial intelligence is moving from buzzword to functional reality in the hotel industry. The technology is making inroads in a variety of ways, from  personalizing experiences and optimizing rate and occupancy to reputation management, and now InterContinental Hotels Group has created smart rooms fueled by artificial intelligence.

The company has teamed up with Baidu on the rooms, which go beyond offering voice assistants that require specific instructions. Guests can do things like tell their room they are “going to sleep,” and the room will recognize the phrase and know what to do with the information, such closing the curtains and turning off the lights. A total of 100 AI powered Club InterContinental suites will be available at InterContinental hotels in gateway cities and key destinations across China within the year.

Customized for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, the AI solution is developed by Baidu’s DuerOS Platform. It integrates AI technology with hotel operations, and this is supported by hardware upgrade and cloud service. The AI smart room will use voice-control technology to deliver a more natural human-computer interactive experience. For instance, guests will be able to freely switch settings between work and leisure modes, and enjoy a more convenient and seamless roomservice experience. This solution will also further fine-tune the current backstage-management system, including customizing information and resetting devices, making hotel management a simpler task.

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“Millennials are particularly sensitive to technology, often seeking new things to try,” Lin Wang, VP of marketing, IHG Greater China, said in a statement.  “The AI Smart Room will undoubtedly be extremely attractive for them, paving the way for a new level of modernization and consumer satisfaction. We will continue to make use of cutting-edge technology in hotel service and facilities in the future, and we hope this will further strengthen customer awareness and appreciation of smart technology. Meanwhile, we will provide more efficient operation and management services to our hotel owners.”

IHG and Baidu inked a strategic partnership on AI development last November. The application of AI has gone beyond smart homes and automatic driving, and now marks a new milestone in the hospitality industry. IHG and Baidu will continue the exploration and innovation in intelligent hospitality solutions, creating more smart options and experiences for guests.

InterContinental isn’t the only brand rushing to embrace technology in the hopes of wowing business travelers and wooing millennials. Marriott International is piloting a new facial recognition check-in program in China, and IBM Watson Advertising and Best Western have teamed up to create a new interactive ad powered by artificial intelligence. The ad personalizes vacation planning by providing consumers with travel tips and tricks, recommendations for local accommodations, and special offers based on their travel preferences.

In addition, Japanese hotelier Fujita Kanko is implementing a multilingual chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to handle guest inquiries on the websites for some of its Japanese-based properties. Website visitors can use the chatbot in Japanese, English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese or Korean to receive 24/7 assistance.