Why the scrambled eggs in the hotel don’t get any better – Economy

An extra orange juice, an upgrade the next time you book – such offers have often been on a sign on the hotel counter for several years, with the request “Please rate us at …”. An important, because business-critical wish that drives many hoteliers insane at the same time. Three stars here, a moan there, an unflattering photo of the lobby, the customer is a harsh judge. But brand and advertising experts unanimously recommend reacting quickly at all times.

More and more hoteliers are now using an artificial intelligence-based software called Mara. The program was fed with existing responses to customer reviews. When someone writes a review, it suggests an automatic reply, but also learns from the changes the hotel employee makes before posting the reply. In the almost three years since the company was founded, the software has been used for product evaluations, among other things. But what was good for detergent and face cream can obviously not be bad for a luxury hotel. In any case, hotels belonging to the Steigenberger and Westin chains, among others, use the program. It went down so well in the test phase, says one of the founders, that sales went straight to it. 100 replies per month cost about 30 euros.

Of course, the advantages are obvious: answers are guaranteed without typos and “3 times faster,” the company advertises (currently it’s an average of six minutes), you can give feedback in a wide variety of languages, create more reactions and thus have a better one Reputation on the Internet, which is known to be the most important today.

But the point of customer reviews is actually that you can complain about details with a personal impression or, that should also happen: please – the scrambled eggs too dry, the mattress too hard, the shower jet too soft or just “super nice staff, wink smiley”. What makes people happy or unhappy is individual. At best, such comments are constructive and linked to a desire to change things for the better on the part of both the sender and the recipient.

Ratings are ratings

For the hotel industry in particular and for guests in general, however, one learns several things from the success of the program: Anyone hoping to find scrambled eggs with a different consistency or a powerful shower next time thanks to two offended stars is wrong. The purpose of ratings are ratings, as many as possible, tending to be good rather than bad, ideally with one answer. Second: the customer is not as individual as he likes to think. In conversation with the founders, it turns out that the software is mainly used to give differently formulated answers to the same evaluations over and over again. Thirdly, the actual uniqueness of the customer doesn’t matter – more important is how unique they feel.

Or as the user report of a general manager of Halbersbacher Hospitality on the Mara website puts it so beautifully: “With a mouse click I can create individual answers to reviews in any language. That saves so much time and the guests feel more valued.” But the real question is what it says about a hotelier when an AI gets a feeling for the customer faster than he does.

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