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ALICE Here’s the story of a lovely mobile app ALICE, Expedia are much more than a hunch and team up to create a blended family of mobile app solutions W hen a guest checks into your hotel, she is most likely unaware about what is going on in the back end of operations to get her checked in. All the guest cares about is having her needs met with as little fuss – and wait – as possible. ALICE is a tech startup that understands the customer- service proposition. Three years ago, the New York City company launched a guest-facing mobile app that in actuality helps management streamline its processes on the back-end. ALICE stands for A Life Improving Customer Experience, but the young entrepreneurs also named it after the all-effi cient housekeeper on “The Brady Bunch” TV sitcom, said Alexander Shashou, 26, co-founder and president. Today, it is tightly knit with Expedia Inc. as both enterprises strive to create an all-purpose solution that meets the needs of both hotels and guests. ALICE technology allows guests to communicate with the hotel via their smartphones after downloading the ALICE app, a white label on which the hotel can position its name. The software is integrated with the hotel’s operating system and allows management to centralize all of its communications across all parties – the departments’ staff, the concierge desk and guests. The startup was jet-fueled in January by a $9.5 million venture capital fund raiser in which Expedia Inc. took the lead. Additional investors are Laconia Ventures, 645 Ventures and Neuehouse Venture Capital, which also gave ALICE $3 million in seed money a year before. ‘Completely redesigned’ Shashou, talking to Asian Hospitality at HITEC in June, said the Series A funds were used to hire skilled programmers and software designers. “We have completely redesigned ALICE,” he said. “We have rebuilt the staff, guest and concierge programming. It is the most holistic program in the market.” Using ALICE, guests can communicate with the hotel any way they want – SMS texting, web-based chat bot, online chat, on an iOS or android device. Guests can ask for information, request service, order food and beverage, check in and check out. “It moves the customer along the journey,” Shashou said. ALICE’s major contribution, however, is that it caters to the front and back offi ces. “We have built out the concierge solution heavily,” Shashou said. The software creates a “black book” of local merchants. “All the concierge has to do is type in a restaurant’s name, for instance, and ALICE scrapes the web for all of the information, including street address, phone number, website address, directions, hours of operation and the menu. It curates itself because it understands the area around the hotel.” Concierge tools include a calendar where the hotel can schedule a request months before a guest’s arrival and not forget to come through. In the back offi ce, the ALICE team made the technology more mobile, getting rid of “clunky” handheld radio devices that don’t store data and enabling management to communicate with staff via smartphones. “It’s much faster now,” Shashou said. “A guest can text the front desk and ask for housekeeping to clean the room, and the digital request is sent in three seconds.” The general manager can see how long it took for staff to respond to a guest request. If a bottleneck occurs and the response is too slow or a request is not fulfilled, the manager can identify the kinks in the process. “Managers can understand the hotel’s operations a lot better,” Shashou said. When the workflow is well managed, the guest has a better experience, which ultimately leads to positive reviews and greater revenue earnings. Customer focused ALICE is a mobile app provider for the hospitality industry 34 AH_Editorial 32 - 64.indd 34 Asian Hospitality Expedia Inc. has an app of its own and engages with customers who book on one of its online sites. Last year, Expedia rolled out Real Time Feedback, which follows up with the customer after check-in to make sure he’s happy with the hotel’s service. If there is a complaint, Expedia September 2016 9/16/2016 12:47:41 PM