Customers’ evaluation of mechanical artificial intelligence in hospitality services: a study using online reviews analytics

Published on Aug 17, 2021in International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
· DOI :10.1108/IJCHM-06-2020-0622
Marcello M. Mariani22
Estimated H-index: 22
Matteo Borghi6
Estimated H-index: 6
Purpose This paper aims to analyze if and to what extent mechanical artificial intelligence (AI)-embedded in hotel service robots-influences customers’ evaluation of AI-enabled hotel service interactions. This study deploys online reviews (ORs) analytics to understand if the presence of mechanical AI-related text in ORs influences customers’ OR valence across 19 leading international hotels that have integrated mechanical AI – in the guise of service robots – into their operations. Design/methodology/approach First, the authors identified the 19 leading hotels across three continents that have pioneered the adoption of service robots. Second, by deploying big data techniques, the authors gathered the entire population of ORs hosted on TripAdvisor (almost 50,000 ORs) and generated OR analytics. Subsequently, the authors used ordered logistic regressions analyses to understand if and to what extent AI-enabled hospitality service interactions are evaluated by service customers. Findings The presence of mechanical AI-related text (text related to service robots) in ORs influences positively electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) valence. Hotel guests writing ORs explicitly mentioning their interactions with the service robots are more prone to associate high online ratings to their ORs. The presence of the robot’s proper name (e.g., Alina, Wally) in the OR moderates positively the positive effect of mechanical AI-related text on ORs ratings. Research limitations/implications Hospitality practitioners should evaluate the possibility to introduce service robots into their operations and develop tailored strategies to name their robots (such as using human-like and short names). Moreover, hotel managers should communicate more explicitly their initiatives and investments in AI, monitor AI-related e-WOM and invest in educating their non-tech-savvy customers to understand and appreciate AI technology. Platform developers might create a robotic tag to be attached to ORs mentioning service robots to signal the presence of this specific element and might design and develop an additional service attribute that might be tentatively named “service robots.” Originality/value The current study represents the first attempt to understand if and to what extent mechanical AI in the guise of hotel service robots influences customers’ evaluation of AI-enabled hospitality service interactions.
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