AI platform translates hotel guests’ speech into actionable data and insights


The adoption of artificial intelligence in
both travel and hospitality isn’t particularly new – many tech platforms and
service providers have been utilizing AI behind the scenes for years. But
the emergence and rapid evolution of generative AI and sophisticated language
models have allowed many travel tech players to finally address gaps in the
market that previously required such technologies.

This has, inevitably, created a robust yet
crowded sub-pocket within the hospitality sector. 

No stranger to AI and language models is Aiello, a company that was
launched in 2019 and is carving a niche with its AI-driven technology tailored
for the hospitality sector. 

Speaking to WiT, Aiello CEO and founder Vic
Shen discussed the market gap Aiello aims to fill, the focus of their
Intelligent Voice Assistant and the distinctive features that set Aiello apart
in a competitive AI landscape.

Language barriers and labor shortages

Aiello’s journey began with a vision to
address challenges faced by labor-intensive industries, particularly in
hospitality. Shen, drawing on his experience at Google, identified the need for
language models in providing high-quality, multilingual services. He emphasized
the impact on heavy labor industries, stating, “Hotels and hospitality are
definitely the one thing which we can address.”

He added, “Most hotels actually hire 50% to
60% interns and temporary staff, because they cannot hire full-time during peak
hours [due to staff shortages]. But they need to deliver the same quality of
service during those peak hours. How do you train interns and students to match
the same quality of senior staff?”

The focus on labor-intensive sectors extends
beyond cost reduction. Shen emphasized the aim to ensure consistent service
quality during peak hours and labor shortages, stating, “That’s why you have
language technology coming to fill in the labor shortage gap, which is helping
hotels to reduce costs.”

Shen further explained, “If you have 100
rooms, the staff-to-room ratio is usually two-to-one or three-to-one, which
means you need to hire 200 people. However, if we can reduce that number of
staff-to-room ratio, they can change the business model and profit sooner.”

While Aiello’s platform is a pivotal part of
its workflow, data is at the core of its service. The two-way platform
translates voice-prompts into actions using advanced language models, and it
also stores that data for filing and future use. The aim, Shen said, is to cut
the entire process short for efficiency. 

“Customers send emails, they make calls to the
hotel, they have conversations with staff – all that becomes raw data,” explained
Shen. “And when you have so much raw data, you need to spend a lot of time
putting it into a CRM [customer relationship management system]. Larger language models address that problem.”

Data, insights and lengthy conversations

Aiello’s technology is not a one-size-fits-all
solution. Shen detailed the three components of its product suite: AVA, the
voice assistant; TMS, the Task Management System; and Vocol, designed for
handling and transcribing voice conversations to text with complicated language
metrics. 

These components work in tandem, providing an
integrated solution that aims to “understand” hotel guests the way a human
staff member would.

Vocol, in particular, can transcribe,
summarize, identify key topics of the calls, interviews, meetings, podcasts
and online courses.

“AVA is a conversation engine,” Shen said.
“TMS is very similar to recommendation systems or help desk systems, but the
difference is in the average request from AVA, they can use AI to understand
what the user is asking and send a ticket into our Task Management System.”

He added, “You can design the process flow –
what kind of ticket should the system create, who should take the ticket, how
long before the ticket is escalated?”

“For Vocol – this product is actually helping
you record and create transcripts, and then file the actionable item. And it
can analyze audio, video calls, texts and even emails and PDFs.”

The goal, according to Shen, is for the Aiello
suite to capture the tone, meaning, inflection and objectives of lengthy
conversations via Vocol’s large language model. Unlike transcription services, Shen
explained that the way people say things matters as much as what is said. These
parameters are converted into text-based data and insights. 

“Larger language models are very different
from previous models. They try to find out as much information as you want
because the language model has been reading billions of data points.”

Finding an edge in a crowded AI market

The real value in Aiello’s workflow, as Shen
highlighted, is in transforming raw data into actionable insights for hotel
operations, customer preferences and streamlining tasks. This, he believes,
sets Aiello apart from standard data analytics tools.

With the surge in AI players post-ChatGPT, Shen
also acknowledged the competitive landscape. He stressed, “We provide the
entire platform that hotels need, rather than just provide software.”

Aiello’s strategy is vertical integration,
focusing on the hospitality sector, making their solution more tailored for
industry-specific needs. Shen anticipates that as the market evolves, Aiello’s
solution will become a standard reference for upcoming players.

“AI is just a buzzword, right?” Shen asked. “It’s
just a software and the software is helping you do the operations, software is
helping you to upsell, but we got to have people who are willing to start using
that software.

“AI is just a component of the software. But
application is the most important.”

Still, selling an AI-driven service isn’t
without its challenges, no matter how buzzy the word may be at the moment. Shen
explained, “Hotels come from an industry with a long-running history,
right? The first thing they have to do is accept it (AI), and someone needs to
be really willing to start using AI more.”

“They all have SOPs [standard operating procedures]. And when you have your
own process, and you want to plug something new in, you have to be able to make
sure your staff is trained too. And are they willing to adopt this technology.
That’s the main challenge with putting AI into the industry.”

Growing in 2024

Shen discussed the year ahead, stating, “2024
will be very critical for us for growth.” Having laid the groundwork in Taiwan,
Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, Aiello is now poised for expansion. Vic sees
2024 as a pivotal year to capitalize on the initial successes and establish
Aiello as a key player in the global hospitality tech scene.

“This is the moment for us to start growth,”
said Vic. “I think that growth will be very, very important for us in the next
year.”

*This
article originally appeared in WebinTravel
.


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