Hoteliers embrace AI, but lagging tech holds them back, says Cloudbeds CEO

Hoteliers embrace AI, but lagging tech holds them back, says Cloudbeds CEO

Interview highlights challenges and opportunities in hospitality's AI adoption

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming industries, hoteliers are struggling to embrace it, despite rapid industry growth.  

In a recent interview with hospitality expert, Paula Carreirao, Cloudbed's CEO Adam Harris explored this disconnect, highlighting both the potential and the roadblocks to AI adoption in hospitality.

Harris acknowledged the confusion surrounding AI's complexity, hype, and potential risks – and that this stands in the way of adoption for hotels. 

While some advancements are happening in travel planning (think AI-powered itineraries), the hospitality industry itself hasn't seen a breakout moment yet.

“Hoteliers wonder if it’s as good as people are saying,” said Harris. However, he believes collaboration between hoteliers and platforms like Cloudbeds can bridge the gap. 

Cloudbeds has been using ML for the past 10 years in areas such as distribution, application scalability and behind-the-scenes technology, and is now taking those learnings and applying them to solutions such as advertising, online positioning, and reputation management.

Despite its size, the hospitality industry "lags behind in technology adoption". This is particularly concerning with the projected surge in hotel stays by 2030, he said.

“Every hotel is an art – the artist is the owner, and they have a style and a concept, so they have to provide a service to match that. 

"They have to build their systems around this, and AI can help.  The challenge lies in balancing a hotel's unique character with efficient service.  

"AI can help navigate this balance, but requires a willingness to pass some control to “robots”.  That can be scary.

“To do AI and data in the right way, everything that happens needs to go into one single source – and that’s where AI can help.  

"However, the industry must prioritize education around AI before diving into complex AI solutions. 

"The fact that we have, on average, 20 systems powering the hotel landscape creates too much opportunity for data integrity loss. Data sits in too many places to make it actionable.”

“Consider the digital door lock – we have the capability to control these locks remotely via our phones.  But despite being around for a decade, only 13% of hotels utilize this technology today.  If basic tech adoption is low, widespread AI adoption seems like a distant future.  I think the industry is afraid of change, not AI.  If we are going to get technical with AI, we need to look at the less technical items first, as these will otherwise stand in the way of AI.”

Harris advised by focusing on foundational tech adoption before diving into AI, the hospitality industry can position itself for a future powered by intelligent solutions.

The interview closed with the importance of working with a technology partner who listens. He said: “If we’re not listening to our customers, we’re dead in the water.

“Every year, our product and research teams spend thousands of hours talking to and listening to our customers, and I believe that differentiates us from our competitors. 

"You’ll see some fun things come out of our camp in the near future… I won’t say anymore now, but watch this space.”