Anyone who’s spent a time on social networks recently knows that getting travel and trip recommendations is no longer limited to conversations with travel agents and hotel staff. One of the companies that is set on perfecting travel recommendations by way of virtual chatbot is Gooster, which have developed a smart Chatbot that in a sense can be compared to a hotel’s concierge, offering personalized guest recommendations.
With a database of over than 50,000 tips, Gooster is now available in Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Berlin and will quickly be available in additional cities worldwide. I caught up with Ardon Wesly, CEO and Co-Founder at Gooster to find out more about their venture, and how chatbots are taking over the travel industry.
Gooster is for hotels that do not have a physical concierge service, including boutique hotels and even hostels. It plans to target even larger hotel chains in the future. The company was founded in August 2016 by Amit Ben Dor and Ardon Wesly.
For those who are still unaware of Gooster, share a little more about it.
Gooster is an artificial intelligence powered concierge service, helping hotels increase (and personalize) engagement with their guests, increasing revenue and being able to give their guests that unforgettable urban experience, keeping them under the umbrella of the hotel’s brand.
Additionally, from an end user’s perspective, Gooster gives guests amazing tips and recommendations about what to see and do, also being able to purchase tickets for tours, events and attractions, while the hotel can proactively communicate with their guests and bring additional hotel services and offerings to their awareness.
Essentially, we’re helping hotels rediscover their guests, while they discover the city, through Messaging.
We’re seeing a major shift in the travel, especially the hotel industry. Guest satisfaction and high revenues are still the most important, but we’re seeing much innovation in a pretty outdated and old school industry
Why do you think the travel industry needs a solution like Gooster?
Hotels need to be creative about making sure that the guests journey is optimized. In urban hotels, 90% of the guests’ stay, they are not in the hotel. What usually happens is, the front desk gives them a physical map, draws some points and circles about the area, and that’s it. The guest leaves the property and the hotel has no idea what happens to them outside. With Gooster, the hotel gets a fully branded service, instantly accessible via messaging platforms, without having to download anything or use any hardware, that gives them insights about what happens to guests outside of the hotel, while being able to communicate with them during their trip.
Let’s talk Chatbots in general. What are the major challenges and opportunities that Chatbots bring to the travel industry?
Chatbots have been around for a while, people just don’t know it. Many of today’s biggest corporations have chatbots to assist in customer support and have successfully done so. We see chatbots popping up in the travel industry as well, where major companies such as Kayak, Hipmunk, Skyscanner are all using chatbots to help customers book flights and accommodation, by simply chatting. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, where we see that people are getting more and more comfortable communicating with businesses through chatbots, even feeling positive about getting recommendations and even purchase services through chatbots.
The major challenges are of course educating people about the simplicity and effectiveness, and convincing them that speaking to a robot through chat can be as beneficial as speaking to a human. Of course, we haven’t seen many or any chatbots that have successfully done so.
What do you think are the biggest trends happening in travel today?
The biggest trends are obviously personalization (in basically every aspect of travel) and “saving money”. The big travel corporate see the inevitable need for innovation and are doing this from the outside in, acquiring startups in a relatively early stage, that all have built amazing solutions to offer more effective and efficient business processes, as well as making the traveler’s life so much easier. Travel has literally become accessible to almost the entire population, something that was non-existent 15-20 years ago.
How do you see Gooster evolving, and what’s your long-term strategy?
We were a B2C company, helping urban travelers discover the city in a more special and memorable way. Since recently we’ve pivoted to a B2B2C strategy, in the first stage targeting hotels. The long-term strategy also contains online travel agencies, airlines and other travel related companies, that all want to increase customer lifetime value and brand awareness.
Have you raised funds, or is Gooster self-funded?
We have raised a pre-seed round a bit over a year ago and are now in the process of raising a seed round. We’ve raised 250K USD and are now raising 600K USD.
We participated in several accelerators and programs, helping us steer the company in the right direction. Currently we’re in the process of closing several pilots and raising our seed round.
The Wrap Up
Will Gooster come out on top as the dominate Chatbot travel companion? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, the team behind Gooster is determined to make a dent in the way we travel, and TravelTechReport will be there to share their story every step of the way!
Working on an awesome Travel Tech venture? We’d love to hear about it. Contact us and share your news with our readers.