Specially designed for the hospitality industry, Aiello Voice Assistant was launched in 2019 by the AI start-up company, Aiello. Through Aiello Voice Assistant, hotel guests can not only play music in the room, but also control lights, air conditioners and TVs, and request room services such as water and meal delivery without calling the front desk. Once the guest gives voice instructions to it, the service staff will deliver the required items within five minutes, and the total time that the service process takes is less than ten minutes.
So far, more than 50 hotels in Taiwan have deployed Aiello Voice Assistant to empower their businesses, including five-star hotels such as Le Meridien Taipei, Silks Place Tainan, Fleur de Chine, and InterContinental Kaohsiung. Since the establishment of Aiello, the company has received an investment of approximately 200 million NTD, and its investors even include the well-known venture capital firms such as ColoplNext and Cornerstone Ventures, just to name a few. Investors are interested in Aiello’s technology and are quite optimistic about its application to the metaverse in the future.
You might be curious why a start-up company is able to enter the Taiwan hotel market and attract domestic and foreign funds that fast, especially when tech giants like Google and Amazon have similar products to Aiello Voice Assistant. “Google does have the resources, but it’s not necessarily suitable to do this.” said Vic Shen, the 46-year-old founder and CEO of Aiello, in an exclusive interview with Business Today.
Back in 2016, when Google Home was released, hotel groups such as Marriott International and Shangri-La took the initiative to ask whether they could launch a hotel version of such a product. However, Google’s business model is based on home applications at home and the proposal of developing additional systems for hotels and hotel guests is not efficient and ultimately did not materialize. Then, Vic Shen, who who was in charge of Google Home and Google assistants at the time, saw an opportunity in the hotel market. He reckons that by 2028, the market for natural language processing (NLP), which allows computers to understand human language, will be worth 46 billion USD. If a large amount of voice data can be accumulated, there is an opportunity to improve the accuracy of natural semantic understanding to meet various business needs. To realize that vision, a hotel where various travelers stay every day is the best location to collect different kinds of voice data.
Shen left Google in 2018 and founded Aiello. He spent a year visiting many hotels in Taiwan to understand the hospitality industry with his team of more than ten people from Qualcomm, HTC, etc. Exploiting voice AI technology, the team developed an Aiello Voice Assistant that integrates information about hotel facilities, nearby attractions, functions of room equipment control, and digital backend systems. In addition to the initial setup fee, each hotelier only needs to pay a monthly fee of about 500 NTD per room, so that guests can experience the convenient service of Aiello Voice Assistant during the stay. Despite the fact that Aiello Voice Assistant is a well-rounded device, the acceptance of technology products by Taiwanese hoteliers is generally low, which makes Shen’s entrepreneurial journey even more challenging.
The domestic travel fever caused by the pandemic at the end of 2020 and the labor shortage at the end of 2021 have become a turning point for Aiello. For five-star hotels, avoiding customer complaints and maintaining service standards and quality are of importance. “After the deployment of Aiello Voice Assistant, guests’ voice demands can be recorded into text on the system platform, and guests do not have to wait on the telephone.” said Rebecca Lee, general manager of Silks Place Tainan. According to statistics, Aiello Voice Assistant can help reduce the number of inquiries received by the front desk by 60% every day, which greatly reduces the working hours spent on the service process. “Aiello Voice Assistant eases the burden on the service staff, allowing them to spend time on something more meaningful.” said Shen.
Apart from multilingual support, Aiello Voice Assistant can also customize the functions or information displayed on the spot, meeting expectations of hoteliers who want to improve the guest experience. As Elaine Chang, vice general manager of L’Hotel de Chine Corporation, says, Aiello Voice Assistant is definitely a device worth investing in.
“We believe that Aiello Voice Assistant will become common in a hotel in the future,” said Shen confidently. In the past year, Aiello has accumulated more than 12 million sets of voice data, with an average accuracy of 95%, higher than other similar products. Nevertheless, Shen and his team are not satisfied with it, they rely on their advanced insight and devote themselves to collecting more sets of voice data to train the model and enhance the effectiveness of machine learning. Aiello aims to create the largest voice AI system for the hospitality industry of Asia. For the next step, Aiello will start its business expansion overseas. Soon in this year, there will be Japanese hotels deploying Aiello Voice Assistant. Southeast Asian markets such as Malaysia, Singapore as well as Thailand are also the targets, and it is expected that Aiello’s revenue will exceed 100 million NTD this year.
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