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Tue, 15 August 2023

Ascott Launches AI-Powered Chatbot Named Cubby

(15/08/23)  Ascott has launched an AI-powered chatbot designed to enhance the planning and booking stages of a guest's journey.

Named after Ascott’s mascot, Cubby, the chatbot is equipped to provide destination highlights, accommodation recommendations, must-visit attractions, suggestions for shopping and adventure activities, as well as the best ‘Instagram-worthy’ spots, to name but a few.

The ChatGPT-fuelled chatbot is built on Microsoft OpenAI and Azure Services, and leverages real-time data from Bing search, Azure Map (Nearby API), Azure Map (Weather API), and other Azure services, alongside data and insights accessed via Ascott’s global website.

Currently in its test-bedding stage where learnings are still key, this transformative initiative is part of Ascott’s mindful adoption of AI-driven guest-centric innovations to support its rapid growth trajectory.

Studio at Ascott Orchard Singapore. Click to enlarge.
Studio at Ascott Orchard Singapore

“An exciting quest of learning and discovery begins as Ascott takes its first step into the future of personalised travel exploration with the pilot launch of Cubby, where innovation meets warm and cuddly hospitality,” said Ms Tan Bee Leng, Ascott’s Managing Director for Brand & Marketing. “Cubby, with its AI prowess, taps into a vast treasure trove of data, enabling fast analysis of travel preferences, trends, and recommendations; from suggesting hidden gems to tailoring itineraries that match specific areas of interests. As we journey alongside our valued guests in this shared adventure of experimentation, every interaction with Cubby is set to unlock a realm of limitless possibilities in AI-driven travel planning. Ascott is dedicated to nurturing Cubby's growth, empowering it to deliver more personalised and engaging experiences with each interaction.”

For a start, Cubby will be supporting Ascott’s live chat agents, so that the agents can focus on responding to more complex inquiries which require deeper and more thorough engagement with guests.

For guests who enjoy having an AI travel buddy that is online 24-7, Cubby has the ability to generate personalised itineraries according to user input. The itineraries can be customised and amended according to the destination(s) selected, length of stay, travel preferences, and other criteria.

Travel tips as well as health and safety information alongside advice on visa requirements, travel budgets and packing checklists are some of the added knowledge Cubby is able to share.

Supporting the booking stage of the guest journey, recommendation of accommodation options and assistance with booking of preferred properties via deep link into the website booking engine are some of the many tasks Cubby has been taught to deliver on as well.

In anticipation of evolving guest expectations, Cubby will become multichannel in its later phase, seamlessly integrating with different applications for greater convenience.

Improved language capabilities will also be implemented, allowing Cubby to respond instantly across channels, using the guest’s preferred language and platform while handling an immense volume of guest inquiries simultaneously and consistently.

In Singapore, Ascott is piloting the use of self-check-in kiosks equipped with facial recognition technology that harnesses computer vision AI at several properties, with plans for global roll-out. Speedy and secure, the kiosks map out facial features and compare them to passport photographs. The process is streamlined to allow guests to check-in faster, and to free up time for employees manning the front desk to have more meaningful engagements with guests.

Ascott also plans to implement natural language processing AI for advanced sentiment analysis by deciphering nuanced language. The tool will be test-bedded in selected geographies before global deployment. This AI innovation will generate specific and constructive suggestions for each Ascott property to elevate guest satisfaction and provide strategic insights for the hospitality group in designing new properties.

“From computer vision to natural language processing, Ascott recognises the pivotal role of AI technology in shaping the future of travel experiences. The adoption of generative AI tools to create advertising campaigns has provided us a shorter time-to-market, and the development of a chatbot has deepened our level of engagement with guests,” added Ms Tan. “Our commitment to equipping our associates with knowledge and expertise in AI is not merely an investment; it's a pledge to futureproof Ascott and create a new paradigm of personalised engagement with our valued guests. Embracing AI humbles us in the face of technology's vast possibilities, empowering Ascott to learn, adapt, and evolve with the times, so that heartfelt hospitality and cutting-edge innovation can harmoniously intertwine.”

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