As vice president of marketing, Tammy is always looking to improve the customer experience at Best Western Hotels & Resorts. Among her many projects during her more than 15 years with the company, she led a structural overhaul and rebranding of Best Western Rewards, the chain’s loyalty program. Under her leadership, Best Western Rewards doubled its membership and revenue to member properties in less than five years. Her latest mission: partnering with IBM on the use of AI to build relationships with customers, encourage brand engagement and give guests a better sense of Best Western’s hotel amenities and rewards program.

Please tell us about your project and how you’re using IBM Watson in your business.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts has used Watson since 2018, and this strong partnership has enabled us to evolve our Watson applications as products and offerings develop. We were the first hospitality brand to leverage Watson’s cognitive dialogue capabilities to target and assist different groups of travelers, such as road trippers and leisure travelers—strengthening brand consideration and enhancing engagement. The Best Western Watson Ad, which ran across the Weather Channel app and website, increased brand awareness by providing personalized information on amenities, special offers and travel tips. The ad also allowed for voice feedback, allowing users to speak questions and answers.

What has your company achieved with Watson?
In the past, travelers were limited to in-person or over-the-phone interactions. Now, customers have a new and dynamic way to learn about the benefits of staying at one of our properties. Our Watson Ads chatbot drove close to 3,000 meaningful conversations, enticing customers to spend nearly twice as much time with our brand experience than if we had used a competing advertising model. In one example, travelers were 51% more likely to visit a Best Western location within a week of being exposed to our Watson chatbot.

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
Having women taking a stronger lead in the conception, build and execution of customer-enabled platforms helps to ensure diverse perspectives are heard. It’s equally important for young women to see other women excelling in spaces that have historically been dominated by men, like technology. More representation teaches future generations the value of different perspectives, both male and female, and the importance of looking at technology from a gender-agnostic lens.

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