The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic may have struck a major blow to the hospitality industry
and made the idea of staying in a hotel room unfathomable to some people, but a new guest experience management platform by Israeli startup Wishbox, should offer some relief for even the most germaphobic travelers.
Rapidly identifying the emerging needs of the hospitality sector for reducing guest-employee contact, the Tel Aviv based traveltech company has taken its automatization platform to the next level, all but eliminating the need for hotel guests to encounter other people if they don’t wish to.
“The pandemic created a significant change for our clients, which are mostly independent hotels, hostels and vacation rentals,” Wishbox CEO David Mezuman told CTech in an interview. “Our system is no longer just a tool to improve the guests’ experience. It is a regulatory requirement to uphold certain standards to keep guests safe.”
Mezuman explained that what has essentially happened to his business in recent months was that it transformed from being a “nice to have” service hotels could offer to improve their guest experience to an essential feature that anyone wanting to re-open needs to consider, arguing that Covid-19 has drastically changed what it means to be hospitable.
“Hotel operators can’t abide by having a long line at the check-in counter,” he said. “No guest is going to be willing to stand in line next to a bunch of strangers in order to check-in and sign forms or touch documents or advertising material previously used by other guests. It all has to be available on their phones.”
Mezuman said that by using Wishbox’s platforms the entire check-in and information transfer procedure, which would have taken 10 minutes, is shortened to a mere 30 seconds.
Wishbox’s platform enables comprehensive and automatic management of the guest experience from the initial booking, to online check-in prior to arrival, smart and timely messages to guests by email, SMS, and WhatsApp, offering additional attractions and services in and around the hotel, shuttle services, room upgrade options, early check-in and other value suggestions. In addition, the system includes automatic sending and filling out a health questionnaire before guests arrive at the hotel, and coordination of meals during their stay.
The Wishbox platform interacts with existing hotel management systems as well as booking engines such as Booking.com to attract bookings, and from there manages all guest communications with the hotel's own personalized branding. For hotels, automation has the added benefit of enabling them to optimize their personnel expenses and the platform’s embedded e-commerce system enables new revenue streams for the hotel and local businesses. The system offers guests the possibility to purchase the hotel services and also recommends external activities like organized tours, workshops, and other local attractions.
“We came at this primarily from a guest’s perspective. Customers in 2020 expect all information to be available to them at a click of a button from anywhere, in their own language and prefer instant booking over conversing with a representative or waiting for confirmations,” Mezuman said. “We have been in touch with hotels from countries that have re-opened or are about to reopen. Our system is fully customizable, so it can be adapted to specific countries’ regulations and is easy and quick to set up.”
Founded in 2016, Wishbox is in the enviable position of having completed an investment round just prior to the coronavirus outbreak, raising $2.5 million at the beginning of the year from BNF Capital, which brought its total funds raised to date to $3.5 million.
“It means that at the moment we are focused on growth and not on fundraising, even being able to offer discounts to clients, all of whom are struggling after being shut down for weeks or months,” said Mezuman. “There is no doubt that the hospitality industry suffered a blow, but it is famous for its ability to bounce back and I believe that in 6-12 months things will be back to normal.”