B2C messaging platform Zingle will use a new $11 million funding round to triple its engineering and product team with a goal of capturing more business in the hospitality space. PeakSpan Capital led the round.
Hospitality has been just one of several verticals Zingle has served since it launched in 2009 (it’s been Hyatt’s global guest messaging platform since 2016), but its fall 2018 acquisition of Presto AI has spurred even more concentration in that area.
Presto AI is a hospitality-focused computational linguistics and data science team, and Zingle founder Ford Blakely says the combination of that acquisition and this funding will allow it to accelerate innovation for hotels and resorts.
“A lot of companies use outsourced artificial intelligence. This is our space. We want to own this end-to-end,” Blakely says.
“Our philosophy is truly the best software companies own what their respective core competency is, and they stay in their lane and they iterate, iterate, iterate and they integrate with others.”
Zingle began as a simple one-to-one text solution but has evolved to combine AI with human engagement to power both manual and automated responses to guests.
“In our opinion we think artificial intelligence can be overplayed,” he says.
“There is a lot of noise that we’re in this age of robots where AI will be the end all, be all and will be the only thing you’ll communicate with. We have a different point of view - yes artificial intelligence will get there, yes there will be an evolution that can automate more and more, but we believe the human plays an incredibly important role at the interaction of those two. A lot of the AI chatbots are automated FAQs and that’s not really what the centerpiece of the guest experience should be about.”
Zingle integrates with products such as Oracle OPERA, Amadeus’ HotSOS and Springer-Miller property management software.
Through Zingle, guests can send requests and questions using text messaging, Messenger, LINE, WeChat and other channels. The system also accommodates more than 90 languages, translating a guest’s message into a language hotel staff can understand and then translating the response back into the guest’s language.
Blakely says hotels are using the platform to communicate with guests before, during and after their stays, rather than communicating with guests through a variety of disconnected channels.
“We can interact with pre-arrival messaging to start engaging with guests via text or Facebook Messenger or whatever they prefer,” he says.
“And they have the same messaging thread to interact with the hotel staff when they are on property, [for example] asking for reservations to the spa, what time is late checkout. And then post-stay we integrate with a lot of the feedback survey companies. We can send links to all sorts of things after stay.”
The company says to date clients such as Hyatt, The Broadmoor and Great Wolf Resorts have exchanged more than 120 million messages with guests on the Zingle platform.
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