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Photo by Farragutful [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

I’m sitting in a hotel lobby, watching as people check in. It’s such a varied set of emotions and I can imagine how it changes throughout the day. On a weeknight, you’ll get the business traveller who just wants to get to their bed. On a weekend, the family, kids running around as the clerk collects a credit card and ID.

Here, there are people who are visiting from out of town for Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. There are people who haven’t likely been to a hotel in a long time and are thrown off by what to do to check in. There are those that are looking for a last minute stay. Others are ready with ID and payment in hand. Others are here for a romantic rendezvous.

This is where I think AI will still have a way to come. The front desk agent has to be very flexible to deal with a wide range of customer inquiries, needs to be emotionally intelligent, and quick thinking. At least at this hotel, it’s likely harder to predict and model the customer.

Or is it?

The whole point of machine learning is to make sense of a complex set of data. It’s supposed to pick out patterns that are harder for us to spot.

So what could it do?

Alert the clerk to fraud, look for preferences of the guest, suggest upsell items, make a suggestion for room choice.

Yes, the front desk staff will still need to be smart and attentive, but what if they could also be augmented with insider knowledge?

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