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AI that Impersonates a Host: Practical or Deceptive?

January 31, 2024
Some vacation rental hosts are using AI tools to provide guests responses as if an answer was coming from them, but without being involved. Is this a good idea?


In the realm of vacation rentals, we have seen technology transform hosting and help businesses scale. Among these innovations have been solutions to enhance the guest experience. Now, AI chatbots represent a pivotal development. Some hosts have begun using chatbot tools from startups that provide answers to guests on their behalf - without being involved. In the push toward ever-increasing operational efficiency, does this go too far?

The Temptation

AI technology is emerging in the vacation rental industry. It offers streamlined communication and speedy customer service. AI chatbots can handle property FAQs, provide local recommendations, and more. This can ease the burden on hosts and management companies. 

If the tech can do these things, it is tempting for hosts to offload those tasks, but then take credit as having provided the information themselves. And some startup vendors have been quick to provide the ability for hosts to do that. After all:

  • AI can respond to many guest questions at any time, providing instant assistance and information.
  • AI can provide a consistent level of service and information, regardless of the host's availability or personal circumstances.

What’s not to like?

The Problem

What happens when AI gets it wrong? After all, the tech is still early. Positioning AI answers as being straight from a human host can lead to misunderstandings or worse. The tool might fail to accurately interpret the context or nuances of a guest request. In particular, AI may struggle with guest inquiries that require human judgment. Obviously, when AI gets it wrong and the guest thinks they are messaging the host themselves, bad things can happen. 

What if AI gets it right and the guest had no idea the response did not come from the host? What did the host really achieve by using a solution that responded on their behalf? The argument could be made that the guest may feel they have stayed at a property run by the ultimate super-host. Available around the clock, the host is just waiting in front of a screen to instantly respond - is that reality? Do guests value an outcome that came at a personal cost to the host higher than if they knew the answer came from AI? The opposite may be true - conscientious guests might hesitate to ask questions if they think the host is having to respond to each one.

Transparency Wins

Thankfully, there are other options available where the AI is clearly positioned as representing the host and not being the host themself. An AI concierge is a self-help tool. Like its impersonating counterparts, these AI systems efficiently handle queries and offer consistent information. Guests get what they need, and they get it fast. There is no need to compromise between efficiency, ethical considerations, and guest satisfaction. An AI concierge for your vacation rental property can deliver real benefits. Guests will appreciate the convenience of self-help and use it without worrying about botheringing the host. That leads to greater use and greater value from your investment.