Every year, billions of people travel for work and pleasure to countries where their native language is not spoken. At the same time, hotels employ millions of staff from around the world whose native language may be different from the one spoken at the hotel. The hospitality world is an international one, and the communication barriers can be detrimental to the quality of hotel guests’ stay as well as a cultural and operational challenge faced by a diverse hotel team.
In an effort to facilitate foreign language communication between travelers and those that serve them, ALICE, a mobile service-on-demand platform for hospitality, today announced the launch of the industry’s first-ever app with real-time translation built into every interaction between hotel guests and staff.
“No matter where you come from or what language you speak, ALICE now enables guests and staff from different parts of the world to interact in real-time via our mobile technology,” said Alex Shashou, co-founder and president of ALICE. “This important functionality allows hotels to forge stronger connections with guests by allowing them to communicate in their language of choice. It also provides better service since nothing gets ‘lost in translation.'”
The traditional approach to translation is a manual process and applies only to static content – individual words and phrases – but ALICE sets out to blend real-time and manual translation in a seamless way. “Since we are focused on delivering a real-time, service-on-demand infrastructure, our language solution could not just support the static content like most solutions. We needed to translate the details of each request that’s placed, the special notes that guests provide, and the chat messaging that happens between guests and staff, all in real-time,” said Dmitry Koltunov, the company’s CTO. “This very ambitious project has taken the team nearly a year to complete. Our mission is to use technology to improve the way that services are delivered. Reducing the language barrier is a huge step towards achieving that.”
Traditional approaches to translation in hospitality leverage translators exclusively, making it expensive and ineffective for real-time interactions. To overcome these inefficiencies, ALICE has developed a solution that elegantly blends manual translation and machine automation, leveraging cutting-edge machine-learning technology to ensure constant improvement. The more the service is used, the “smarter” and stronger it will become. The service will be offered in 30 languages and is available across the entire ALICE suite, including its free-form text functionality. This means that a guest can send a message in German to an Italian-speaking hotelier, who, through the ALICE app, will receive the message in Italian. When he or she replies the message will be translated to German for the guest.
“This is not just a guest enabler,” added Shashou, “our multi-cultural hotel’s staff can use this among themselves just as practically, writing internal comments in any language with the translation becoming available in real-time. This is all done behind the scenes. The only thing that each staff member needs to do is set their language of choice. ALICE brings multiple departments into a single system, and with integrated translation, the interactions of the back-of-house allow for improved traceability, accountability and transparency.”
ALICE currently works with properties on three continents, from Shangri La’s Hotel Jen in Australia to the Setai in Miami. These hotels attract travelers from around the globe that rely on ALICE to help facilitate superior service, better understand their guests, and make improvements based on aggregated guest data.