Around one month ago Google launched its “Interpreter mode”, available on Google Assistant. Although the tool isn’t ideal yet, it heralds a future change which is probably as important as the explosion of low-cost flights or guest houses.
I believe that it will be extremely positive for the hospitality sector. Here’s my view on the subject. Of course, you can send me an email or write in the comments section to tell me your opinion on this innovation.
The receptionist of tomorrow
Nowadays hotel receptionists shouldn’t have to deal with administrative tasks. A hotel is supposed to be equipped with connected solutions which reduce the admin time for a receptionist almost to zero. So what’s the point of this role? Should we be getting rid of reception staff?
Over the last ten or so years the hotel profession has developed significantly: it is now orientated around the guest experience. In 4 years, the interest in the quality of experience has multiplied by 5: the demand has become extremely high. Reception tasks have progressed in response.
The role of a receptionist is no longer limited to handing over keys and taking payments. The receptionist has a true customer service support role. It is their duty to understand their customers’ needs and to help them on different levels. They advise on what to do and guide them to make the most of their stay.
Receptionists are now responsible for recommending good restaurants, providing maps and informing guests of certain activities.
All of this work has become possible as a result of certain connected tools: ticketing, chat, CRM, e-concierge, etc.
But how can these tasks be carried out when you are faced with a guest who speaks none of your languages?
Google Assistant “interpreter mode”
This short video shows how this tool resolves the problem (at least in part):
As can be seen, the tool is far from perfect, and takes a lot of time to analyse your voice and then translate what has been said. It is, however, a promising first step which has the advantage of really trying to improve the hotel profession through technology.
A new type of traveller
According to the site https://www.statista.com, in 2017 we reached the figure of 1.32 billion travellers annually:
Number of arrivals of international tourists for the whole world between 1996 and 2017 (in millions)
Without entering into any debate on the “consumer society” and other connected subjects, we must recognise the phenomenon developing over recent decades: namely new methods of “consumption” aimed at other audience groups.
- There has been an internet explosion enabling everybody to plan the trip of their dreams without visiting a travel agent;
- We’ve seen the rise of low-cost flights which have opened the doors of travel and tourism to a new segment of the population;
- More recently, the great AirBnB wave has created a new market for families;
All these developments have affected the hotel sector per se, but on a more general level they also offer the option for other types of travellers to become international customers.
This is where the question becomes relevant: how many people around the world don’t travel internationally because their native language isn’t spoken elsewhere? I personally know several people who will never leave France as they would be unable to get by outside its borders, so you’ll agree there’s a new market to be explored.
I really think the idea contained in this innovative tool from Google is excellent. However, certain progress needs to be made to make this into a practical and enjoyable tool. All the same, let’s not base our final judgement on this necessary experimental stage. Look at how the world of science fiction from our childhood is becoming reality every day, at an incredible speed.
Currently, this is precisely the type of investment which will prove to your clients how much you really care for their well-being and how much you are ready to implement to provide a flawless service for each one of them.
Who knows – the next stage may be an earpiece version of Google interpreter, functioning on a continuous basis in quasi-real time?