Integrating AI With Your PMS to Improve Guest Communication

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In this podcast, Liam and Sam discuss AI's role in business, focusing on its application in property management and short-term rentals. Sam, co-founder of Besty AI, describes how their app streamlines guest communications and operational tasks for hosts. The app integrates with property management systems, automating responses and enabling hosts to manage tasks efficiently. Sam's background spans property management and AI development, emphasizing the time-saving benefits of AI in business operations. 

Besty AI's key feature, “co-pilot,” allows users to manage property listings through simple conversational commands, facilitating tasks like fee adjustments. This integration significantly reduces manual workload. Sam addresses AI skepticism, advocating for its practical benefits in improving guest experiences and operational efficiency in the hospitality industry.

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Timestamps (audio)


[00:00:00] Liam: I don't think AI is for me. I just don't like it within my business. What would you say to those people?

[00:00:05] Sam: Yeah, I would say there's one metric, um, that we're obsessed about and that's like time to value. So if you're evaluating any AI tool measured by how many minutes do I have to invest in this, plugging this thing in and playing around with it.

[00:00:19] Until I see the first very measurable ROIs

[00:00:22] Liam: having a blast. Gonna get it on

[00:00:24] Sam: the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you'd better put it directly. Here are the words in the podcast.

[00:00:37] That's what comes next.

What is Besty AI

[00:00:39] Liam: Welcome back to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives you the listener, the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence so you can go out there and get yourself direct bookends. I love to do a mini-series on this podcast where we talk about services and businesses that you need to know about as an operator, and as a host.

[00:00:56] And today we're talking about AI. I know AI is. Buzzing in the communities and we get to see it on the Facebook groups and things like that. Today, we're diving in with a co-founder of an awesome business that you need to know about, something which is going to be awesome, especially for 2024. So let me welcome you along.

[00:01:16] We've got Sam Dundas. And as I say, he's a co-founder. The company itself is called Bestie AI, and we're going to dive into all their services. We're going to talk about AI and you're going to get some good value on this podcast. Welcome along, Sam. Thank you for joining me today. Thanks for having me. So Sam, can you give an elevator pitch?

[00:01:34] What is Besty AI

[00:01:36] Sam: Yeah so, um, at the core we're a guest communications app, uh, plugs in directly with any of your property management systems, and then gives. Any operator has the option of turning on autopilot. So anytime a guest message comes in, how best do you automatically respond based on everything it knows about that listing?

[00:01:53] So past conversation, save replies, amenities, descriptions, and then give instant answers to guests in your tone without you having to do anything. And on the other end, we give the host the option to have some controls. So, instead of it going off and just taking the keys and handling guest conversations, you can just draft messages directly.

[00:02:13] In your PMS inbox without having to add another app or another 3rd party inbox all directly within your PMS just to speed up the communication process. And then that's the guest communication side. Then we built an entire suite of operating tools to use as the foundation will do things like generate extra bookings for gap nights, monetize early check-in late checkout and all of those quick wins that you may do manually right now, all powered with these large language models where you just kind of set it and forget it and let it.

[00:02:41] Um, and, uh, that's, uh, that's a good one.

Why solve this problem?

[00:02:43] Liam: So I know a lot of AI businesses, uh, are quite new in general, but can you talk us through why you decided to solve this problem for the industry and the history of the business?

[00:02:54] Sam: Yeah. So we're pretty new. Um, so I have a little bit of backstory. I've been a property manager myself for about two years.

[00:03:00] Um, most like similar to most people started with a few, um, met a few people along the way and started managing their properties. So I have a portfolio of 35 properties across funny enough, Germany. Randomly, which was a whole other story. And then in Canada, um, my co-founder and I, worked at a different AI startup before in the e-commerce space, working with big brands like Peloton and and helping them optimize the product photos that they sell that they use to sell online.

[00:03:25] Obviously, photos for a big part of the buying journey. And so we were leveraging a lot of the same AI that people are using in this industry, but for e-commerce. And then about six months ago, um, as uh, my property management business was growing, we found that there was a huge opportunity to apply the same kind of AI into the STR space.

[00:03:41] So basically in August, we decided to pivot businesses completely. Uh, in the first month, we signed up about 2000 listings around the world just with a scrappy, early version of the product. And then we've been working closely with them. You know, our average user has anywhere between 50 to 150 properties, so targeting professional users.

[00:03:57] But of course, we have users that have. 5 to 15 to 20 as well. Um, and that's kind of what dovetailed into that. So we're about six months into the business now, just over 10, 000 listings in the platform, uh, and they're all using it for a variety of use cases. Like I said, either the guest messaging front or just the operations.

[00:04:13] Cause some people say, you know, AI is great, but I'm all set high touch communications I want to do with humans, but then there's a lot of quick wins. They can leverage our automation. Uh, some things that you wish were just in your PMS, but they're not. And that's where we kind of do them for you.

What AI can I put in my business?

[00:04:27] Liam: One of the questions is what AI can I put in my business? How can I save myself time or save myself potentially my first hire? And AI is a great way that everybody listening to this right now should be thinking, well, Am I implementing AI into my business currently? If not, then how am I best to do that?

[00:04:45] And of course, this is what your product solves. So at the moment, when it comes down to how it helps hosts, obviously I know we've touched on a lot. So what, what does a host physically have to do? How much work is involved in, in kind of onboarding and that side of things?

[00:05:00] Sam: Yeah, so, uh, a core tenant to our business is that there's so much information provided through the property management system through their pretty robust APIs that our whole goal is that you can just get signed up in, like, 1 minute.

[00:05:12] So the traditional hook up your API key. And then what happens is our system will go through each listing and generate a knowledge base. So it gets up to speed quickly with all of your listings, all of your communications, your tone, everything you can think of. If you were to just hand your PMS to a person and tell them, learn everything about my operation, that's what we do on the back end.

[00:05:32] And then, you know, if you have 2 or 300 listings, it can take up to 24 hours to 1st sync up, you get an email and say, you're off to the races and then you go in and start adding some of the automation. Um, that we have, and I can dive into a bit more of those features, but the best way of thinking about us is that you have 2 buckets.

[00:05:48] You know, 1 bucket is all the things you're currently doing that are time-consuming. So, guest messaging, updating listings, like, things that you do all the time that just take a lot of human interaction. Um, and then all the things that you're just not doing, because they're cost-prohibitive. So, you know, we have, we've built a lot of our automation around things that would just be.

[00:06:06] Way too much time, like, you're not going to get a staff member to go into your calendar every day and check at the availability and play Tetris with your listings. If you have multi-type listings which ones should go where should I send offers to these guests and which ones want to check in early things like that?

[00:06:20] So there's this whole other category of things that now you can leverage. These large language models do a lot of that heavy lifting. It unlocks a whole suite of new things that you're just not doing because you just don't have the time or it's too, you know, it's too repetitive or it's too inconsistent.

[00:06:33] Um, so that's kind of the 2 things generally speaking, but I'd love to dive in, you know, really specifically to some of those things. Because I do think there's this part in the industry where everybody rolls their eyes when they hear at this point, it was really exciting and there's a lot of exciting stuff happening and innovation.

[00:06:46] But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts, like, what can I do? Um, Um, and so I'd be happy to chat more about, you know,

For those unsure of AI

[00:06:52] Liam: what would you say to the people who have had a kind of experience where they go, you know, I don't think AI is for me. Um, I just don't like it within my business. What would you say to those people?

[00:07:04] Sam: Yeah, I would say there's one metric, um, that we're obsessed about and that's like time to value. So if you're evaluating any AI tool. Measured by how many minutes I had to invest in this, plugging this thing in and playing around with it until I saw the first very measurable ROI. So whether that's guest communications how fast am I starting to get those messages written up for me?

[00:07:27] You know, are they, are they good? You know, it's one thing to generate them, but you can see AI hallucinates. So how good are they? How fast does it take for this thing to generate an extra booking? And so, our core metric is time to value. And so I would just recommend anybody who's had maybe a negative experience or something.

[00:07:42] If you give us just like, you know, 10 minutes, you know, two minutes to sign up and then eight minutes to just chat through the platform, then we're pretty, uh, we're pretty adamant that you're going to see quick, um, you know, quick wins, um, that will elevate your business in a bunch of different ways.

Some of the features

[00:07:57] Liam: Talk us through some of these features that you've mentioned. Um, talks through how they work.

[00:08:02] Sam: Yeah, so the one we're most excited about, uh, which I think makes us a lot different than I think this large wave of AI communication apps, which seems to be like the low hanging fruit, kind of obvious use case for AI.

[00:08:13] Um, a big thing that's happening in other industries that are starting to come into the short-term rental space is that because these property management systems already, everyone knows they connect through APIs and there are all these things happening in the back end. Even, we don't fully understand the extent of how everything works.

[00:08:29] We just know if we plug this in, it'll talk to each other. You know, my breezeway is talking to my PMS or my price labs are talking to my calendar, but they just do something in the back end. Um, so the one thing that we're, uh, most excited about is, is co-pilot. So the idea with co-pilot is that we've trained a GPT model.

[00:08:47] So just chat, GPT, and then hooked it up to all of those API points. In your property management system. So what you can do is instead of going into, let's say, you want to change a cleaning fee on 50 listings. Your current solution is to go into the PMS, click on a listing, go through all the feeds, add it, adjust it, whatever you'll just be able to talk to our chatbot internally, our copilot chatbot and say, hey, for all of my listings in Los Angeles, please adjust the cleaning fee to 200.

[00:09:14] It's going to run, it's going to actually write code to the API, complete the task, and then send you a message saying, hey, that's done. So that's a really simple example, but we can go kind of off the deep end of some of the crazy stuff that it can do. And that's, we think that generally speaking, when I talk to a lot of property managers, and they think, Okay.

[00:09:29] How can I, for example, booking direct is a huge term for people to get that extra margin on direct bookings and build a better direct relationship. We're talking about like, marginal improvements, like, between getting a bit of extra money on bookings. But I think, like, the most exciting thing in the industry right now is that when you start connecting these really intelligent and large language models directly to your behind-the-scenes.

[00:09:51] PMS API, you're going to be able to talk to it to do anything, you know, whether it's cleaning, changing cleaning fees, whether it's writing listing descriptions. Well, hey, Airbnb came out with a new amenity. Looks like you have this, but you didn't think to click it on. We're going to find that. We're going to click it off for you or, you know, update titles.

[00:10:08] There's a lot of things that anything you can do directly to PMS. You'll be able to do this basically by talking to a chatbot. Um, so that's our core, um, a foundational feature that I think makes us much different, but I can speak to some of the other stuff that we have on the go as

[00:10:20] Liam: well. Gonna

[00:10:21] Sam: get it on the Boosley podcast.

[00:10:23] Bosley is like Bruce Lee, cause it's so hard and the T is loose. Making up those rhymes, don't write it, just do it loosely.