Q&A: How Hotels Can Leverage AI and Digital Marketing to Win the Direct Booking Race

Bennett: Firstly, AI and machine learning help hotels understand customer insights and behavior. For example, if a customer consistently browses golf pages on a hotel’s website, the hotel’s website should tailor its offerings to feature its golf packages rather than its spa offerings. The industry has long struggled to leverage such data effectively.

AI-driven marketing across platforms like Google and Meta can also optimize ad reach by targeting specific audiences and creating look-alike models to attract similar potential guests. This strategy has become smarter, faster, and more accessible for hotels of all sizes, not just those with large budgets.

There’s also a missed opportunity in how hotels communicate with guests at check-in and check-out, capture feedback in real-time, and react to it. This feedback should be integrated into the guest’s profile for a personalized experience in both in-stay and future interactions. 

Markowitz: One of the smartest ways hotels can leverage AI is by analyzing reviews and feedback to identify key themes. This can provide actionable insights for hotels to make informed changes. It’s a shift in culture towards leveraging technology to improve decision-making and guest satisfaction.

A great example of this is in call center applications. AI can manage straightforward, simple, customer requests and questions so hotel staff can focus their time on more detailed conversations by phone and in person. The AI technologies we’ve seen doing this are very sophisticated — a customer often thinks they’re speaking to a real person, and they’re saving hoteliers an immense amount of time and labor cost.