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Tech traveller: Hotel chatbots

Like a hotel with a personal touch? Move over simpering concierge, these days the little extras are often generated by efficient little chatbots

Tech traveller: Hotel chatbots
Image: Getty

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Chatbots are becoming increasingly commonplace — before long, we’ll spend more time talking to them than we do to our spouses. You might think I’m joking but that’s an actual prediction by analytics firm Gartner. The hospitality industry has embraced artificial intelligence, with numerous hotels now deploying chatbots that act as a digital concierge; always online and ready to serve, no matter how demanding a guest might be.

Bebot is a company providing this service to hotels in Japan, with Holiday Inn the latest to sign up. Guests receive a registration code to access the bot, which provides everything from travel advice to sightseeing tips and restaurant recommendations. Bots interact using everyday language, so technophobes needn’t fear robotic responses; it feels just like you’re chatting to the front desk.

Gooster, meanwhile, is a service provider that enables hotels to self-brand the chatbot in a widget or run it through Facebook Messenger. Such is the number of hotel groups now using this technology, you’ll probably find it offered the next time you make a reservation.

But if you prefer that human touch, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has recently deployed a digital concierge service that lets guests chat with hotel staff via Facebook Messenger, WeChat, KakaoTalk or SMS. The chain says 95% of messages are answered in under five minutes.

Get the gadget: G-Ro smart carry-on

The stylish G-Ro has large wheels set into the sides to make it easy to pull across rough terrain — without sacrificing capacity. A 10,000mAh power bank that fuels dual USB ports means you’ll have enough power to charge a phone up to four times. Plus, if you have to check your G-Ro into the hold, the battery can easily be detached and carried into the cabin. It also features a Bluetooth luggage tracker. For an extra £60 you can upgrade this to the GSM-GPRS tracking system. Alternatively, of course, you could simply pop an old smartphone with ‘find my phone’ activated into the bag to locate it anywhere around the globe (providing the phone still has battery life).
RRP: £499.

Kate Russell is a technology reporter for @BBCClick and author of Working the Cloud

Published in the April 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)