One of the founders of Hotelbuddy is Hannes, who has been running an IT company PRO IT for over 12 years. PRO IT is an company that provides a list of IT solutions and support for many corporate clients, including around 50+ hotels in Estonia and Latvia. Throughout their experience in the hospitality field they often witnessed hotels struggling with different technologies. The main problems were caused by the poor integrations of the many different systems and lack of support by the providers. There were not very good reliable solutions with a good value for money out on the market and the hoteliers were clearly frustrated about the situation and were wishing for a working solution, that would help them manage their resources and help them to offer a better service for their guests.
The first idea of creating a new hotel technology came to Hannes already a few years ago, but during that time the IOT technology was not yet on the level where it is today and the tasks such as opening the door locks, casting the personal devices and setting up all the necessary integrations seemed much more difficult than today. Back then he figured that he could just find the best technologies from the market and combine them and offer these as a part of a service package, but when he did he research on the market he found out that actually it is still way too complicated. The problems with combining different technologies were following:
- Pricing- combining a lot of different technologies added up to significant price tags.
- Lack of features. There was still a large void of necessary features available on the market, or they were simply not efficient enough, not integrated enough or way too expensive.
- Integrations of more and more systems could lead to a series of new challenges.
- Many technologies were extremely advanced, but the hotels would only really need to use just 5-10% of the system features.
It became clear then that the right solution would be creating a system on it’s own, which would include all the necessary features that the hotels actually need and would use. Once the vision was set then Hannes started to discuss the project with hoteliers. It was very obvious from the beginning that it was something that the hotels had been long waiting for and he received a lot of positive and encouraging feedback from the hoteliers which was a strong motivation to keep on going. So HotelBuddy was created. A system that is not just about digitalizing the guest journey, but also about automatizing the hotel operations and making the life of a hotelier easier.
1. Which problems are you helping the hotels to solve?
Our main goal is to create a completely new customer service experience for the hotels without compromising the guest satisfaction and optimizing the hotel operations and creating efficiency in terms of time and money to the hotels. If we look around us then you can do everything with your phone- buy stuff, visit cinema, theaters, museums, travel, vote, pay etc. You don’t even think about going to check in desk at the airport as you naturally would have your boarding pass ready in your phone and just walk through the gates with your carry-on. In most of the hotels however you would still need to go to the reception desk, fill in a registration card and get the keys from the staff. The customer expectations have also changed so much with time. Nowadays guests really don’t want to watch TV when they’re at the hotel. They want to cast their own content to TV and also just use their phones to interact with the hotel, book services and get the information they need. Hotelbuddy makes it possible- the guest will have everything they need in their phones, without having to install an app. They can open the hotel doors simply using their phones, cast their content to TV, order room service and chat with the reception.
2. What has been the most interesting challenge so far?
How to create a simple but efficient platform to our customers. It is easy to build difficult and hard-to-navigate systems, but creating a simple and intuitive system for the customers with the maximum amount of features and all the logics is not an easy task. Luckily we have the best team of UI and UX designers working on the project and we have included some of the best area expertise out there so we are quite certain that we have built a system with a great flow and great user experience.
3. Why is your system called “HotelBuddy”? How did you come up with that name?
Hotelbuddy is a digital assistant of the hotel. We are seeing it as he is part of your hotel team. As you are hiring different staff members to the hotel, you could also say that you have hired Hotelbuddy to help you with your operations and customer service. Hotelbuddy is also a friend of the hotel.