May 9, 2019
By Holly Zoba, CHDM, Vice President of Technology Resources, Hospitality Digital Marketing, and a member of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board, and D.C. Becker, Principal, Titan Group of New York, and a member of HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board
Artificial intelligence was a primary focus of HSMAI’s Spring Curate 2019 program, and a recent conference call for HSMAI’s Sales Advisory Board (SAB) continued the conversation with a discussion of AI with guest expert, Larry Nipon, founder and CEO of Zer0Frixion. Most simply defined, AI is a machine’s ability to learn the way that we do — by experience. The only difference is that it takes the machine seconds what it takes humans years to learn. Then AI uses that information to predict outcomes and change its behavior.
Of course, we’ve all been through technological advances, and it’s always a struggle to avoid getting so immersed in the technology that it gets in the way of why we’re here in the first place. What those of us in hospitality sales want to know is how we can get the most from AI without it becoming an obstacle to our selling process.
“We’ve created our own monster, to the point that we are now working for the system instead of having the system work for us,” Nipon told the SAB. “Seventy percent of the activities of sales execs and sales management is being invested in non-sales-related activity. The ripple effect of that amounts to billions of dollars, because 53 percent of sales execs and pros aren’t meeting their quotas. As the percentage is getting worse, it’s directly correlated to the amount of data we have to work with. The bigger the data gets, the more disruptive it becomes.”
But many hospitality salespeople are not great at data input, meaning much of what they collect isn’t trustworthy — yet we still make decisions based on that data and then get bad results from it. The end result is that we’re not producing more sales. AI should be able to help us by better classifying and organizing data, analyzing it for anomalies, and determining how to proceed.
As a case study and example of how to make AI work for us, Nipon walked the Sales Advisory Board through a new platform [Collective Intelligence (CI)] that gets data directly from a company’s systems and converts that information into machine language. The goal is to give companies more accurate information than they are currently getting, whether it’s on forecasting, pipeline predictions, headcount productivity, assessments, etc.
The AI involved is designed to bring opportunities to the surface quickly and efficiently.. “Currently, we’ve got expensive employees performing mundane tasks they shouldn’t have to invest time in,” Nipon said. “Managers are working on historical information instead of forward-looking information. The knowledge, the data, is siloed.
“All we’re selling has been rules-based, meaning they’re fixed rules that don’t change with behavior. With AI, we can change that. Employees can spend more time on revenue-producing activities, and managers can be forward looking, coaching as opposed to looking at data.”
This is just one example of how to integrate AI into hospitality sales. Even if it’s not for you or your organization, it should get you thinking about this important topic — which is only going to get even more important.