As confinement ends and citizens embrace the new normal, would families feel safe to rent a cosy apartment, a rural house or a small independent hotel? Would a business traveller feel secure to rent a cool studio or book on a boutique hotel to attend a Congress?
In Europe, more than 70 per cent of hotels are independent. On the other hand, legal alternative accommodations (rural houses, villas, condos, apartments, etc..), a growing category, in most of the cases are operated directly by the owners or by mid-size Property Managers. Both, small independents hotels and alternative accommodations, struggle to keep pace with the large travel players as technology evolves. This problem is even worse in rural environments.
Now they have to face the additional challenge to offer the same health and safety standards that we citizens have at our homes and the large travel players will be offering, as professional cleaning or the avoidance of any physical interaction which could be digitalized (check-in/out, access to the rooms or apartments, customer service and customer satisfation, individual transfers)
SmartDigitalPlug platform offers to them an affordable, easy and fast to implement answer to that challenge.
The Solution: SmartDigitalPlug
We have put together a platform that enables alternative accommodations and small independent hotels to deliver a digital customer experience that is safer for both, the customer and the property´s employees. It eliminates physical interactions combining 6 digital services that the Property can easily handle from a single one-stop-shop.
Once the Property is registered in the SmartDigitalPlug site, all the services can be enabled for the Property (named The Apartment, for demo purposes):
- Automated Registration: The Property can check-in/out their customers, automate their registration and generate the official documentation with a web dashboard and mobile app. The Property can review occupation or who has not arrived as planned and contact them if needed. SmartDigitalPlug is using the technology of Checkin, which is already adapted to all touristic compliance regulations across the EU.
- Automated Guest Access: SmartDigitalPlug enables the travellers to access the property (both building and rooms) with their mobile phones with both NFC or smart mobile key, even providing a 24h Virtual Reception, using the technology of STAYmyway.
- Automated Electricity Saving: SmartDigitalPlug enables the Property to drastically reduce the electricity consumption with sensors that detect the presence of the guests, turning off the lights remotely as the customer goes out, using the technology of STAYmyway.
- Certified Professional Cleaning: SmartDigitalPlug enables the Property to automatically schedule and engage services that ensure guest-ready apartments done by professional providers, using the technology of Doinn, an online platform that integrates cleaning, linen & towel rental, laundry and final inspection services (once the final customer has checked out),
- Private Shuttle Services: SmartDigitalPlug enables the Property to offer their clients online bookable options of a private transfer to/from the Property to/from near airport and stations, using the technology of Servantrip.
- Automated Customer Service: SmartDigitalPlug enables the Property to answer to all the questions of the traveller in any phase of the trip using a chatbot on WhatsApp or Messenger (including obviously all the services provided by SmartDigitalPlug), deploying the technology of Visor.ai.
- Automated Customer Satisfaction Monitoring: SmartDigitalPlug enables the Property to monitor the satisfaction of the traveller before/during/after the stay in real time, deploying the technology of myHotel.
How we did it
During the 2020 EUvsVirus hackathon, Travel Tech 1 Venture Capital coordinated the efforts of 6 traveltech startups to design an integrated platform of the key services required by a small independent hotel or an alternative accommodation would need to cope with the requirements of the travellers that COVID19 has brought to stay. The 6 companies have worked together to combine their know-how and technology and create the SmartDigitalPlug platform.
Impact during and after the crisis
The impact of SmartDigitalPlug during the crisis is evident because it will allow those alternative accommodations and small independent hotels using it to have clients and not remain closed or even disappear because travellers are afraid to go to them due to the risk of contagion.
The value of the SmartDigitalPlug after the crisis would be enormous because it will have allowed small independent hotels and alternative accommodations to be completely digitalized and professionalized in a simple and inexpensive way and adapted to the trends that travellers demand after COVID19, guaranteeing their survival, since they respond to their demands and, on the other hand, they achieve a great reduction in their operating costs, which facilitates their survival. Likewise, the digitalization provided by SmartDigitalPlug is positive for climate change, since it involves the control of electricity consumption and the elimination of paper.
In order to carry on and complete and launch the platform, there are several lines of activity that need to be completed and would require additional funds and a full time dedicated team. Main lines of activity are:
- Design and development of a unified user interface across the platform translated to all EU languages.
- Define and seamlessly integrate the 6 subsolutions to enable data sharing and single sign-on. All of them are operational and have a significant client base on their own.
- Define and agree on the pricing model and the commercial strategy.
- Build up an operations team for SmartDigitalPlug, a brand owned by the six startups behind the project: Chekin, Doinn, myHotel, Servantrip, Staymyway and Visor.ai
Few industries have been hit by COVID-19 as hard as Travel and Tourism. SmartDigitalPlug will allow the opening of thousands of small independent hotels and alternative accommodations (apartments, condos, villas, rural houses et…) that otherwise would have been closed temporarily or even permanently as citizens are afraid to go to anyplace lacking the same health and safety standards they feel they have at their own home or probably in large hotel chains.
It is a simple and affordable solution for alternative accommodations and small independent hotels to digitalise their operations and provide a first-class digital experience that:
- Meets the health and safety standards required by the travellers in the “new normal”.
- Catches up with the large travel players which have access to bigger resources, and the latest technological advances.
- Keeps up with the environmental agenda, avoiding paper-based transactions, unnecessary commutes and reducing energy consumption.