Hannu Vahokoski – CEO and founder of Hotelway – had a few interesting things to say about the company and hospitality as a whole.
What drove you to create Hotelway?
We founded our company a couple of years ago to help hotels with their communication with their customers. We tried a few things and one of them was a universal mobile application. I still think it is a good idea. But the truth is that nobody wants to download new apps anymore or to register anywhere. While using it (some people did download it), we noticed that it is the answering, which is painful to hotels. When a guest asked something, it took hours for the hotel to respond. That is when we realized that This is what we need to do.
Then we evolved to provide chats. Simple technology, that has been available for decades, but it did not break through until 2018 in multiple industries. Hospitality is a bit behind, but we see chats popping in hotels as well. Very soon it will be a norm, like email.
Hotels still do not have time to answer, but that is where we step in.
AI-technology has now developed enough for companies to provide different bots (service bots and chatbots) for various industries. A good bot can successfully answer most questions the customers have in mind. And if it is an industry specific bot (e.g. for pharmaceuticals), it can be really superb.
By the way, you should always get an industry-specific bot, to give the best possible service in that particular industry. That means hotel-specific bot for hotels.
Why is Hotelway THE solution for hotels?
It is often a challenge in hospitality that there are bots available, but they are only software. It means that the bot company will sell you the tech and may even build the bot for you. But the actual teaching, developing, updating and maintaining is left for hotels to handle. And why should a hotel try to develop a Service bot, when they are swamped with other, more important tasks – like servicing their guests? Developing the bot should be left for professionals. – And if you did not know, ALL AI-bots still need a human to teach them. There are no self-learning bots in the true meaning of the sentence.
Now we are ready to present our Service Bot, Sam. It can work independently and keep all the conversations within. Or, some of the conversations can be forwarded to a human to answer. This may be handy if the hotel has an efficient sales team to answer e.g. sales related questions. But very importantly, if you plan to take the chats, then answer the chats. There is nothing worse than providing a chat where nobody responds. And the answers are needed in 45 seconds. (see this post)
We also have a fantastic Guest Care Team (all experienced hospitality professionals), who can answer some of the questions on behalf of the hotel.
We have piloted our service for a few months now and the feedback has been fantastic. The guests love it, the hoteliers want to continue, and the hotels are getting multiple times the revenue back they are paying for our services.
It is time for all hotels to make their guest communication easy – for their guests and their staff.