Examples of innovations like phone-as-key-cards, mobile self-check-in, mobile booking, self-service check-in kiosks, electronic luggage tags, bring your own device, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, smartphone boarding passes, hotel service optimization systems, wearable devices to identify guests, tablet menus and table reservation systems, mobile applications, cognitive technologies, robotics, CRM, internet of things may take place in the frontline of a service where customers observe the innovation or they may operate in the backend and be “invisible to consumer”.
As a result of continuous innovation we have seen the birth of companies like Air BnB, that have literally made travelling easy and convenient. Service firms have also improved the quality of their service and offer a more customized experience. This is accomplished by predicting customer needs and wants, increasing loyalty through various programs, expanding customer base while reducing unused capacities and increasing efficiency and productivity.
We sought out some companies in the hospitality industry that have modified their way of doing business innovatively. We have since put together a list of companies, take a look and let us know what you think
EatOut is an online and mobile platform that puts the local dining scene in the palm of your hand. Users to browse, discover and get access to discount and offers at hundreds of restaurants in the East Africa.
In the mood for Japanese, Chinese, African or eve Mexican cuisine? EatOut gets to show you the closest restaurant to just get that. Users can search for restaurants based on location, cuisine or budget and get comprehensive information including contact details, menus, maps, opening hours, photos, reviews and much more.
Apart from that, EatOut also publishes Yummy, a food and beverage lifestyle magazine and runs the annual Nairobi Burger Festival, which is a week long celebration that takes place from 27th July to 5th August with 2 for 1 burger deals at the best burger restaurants in town. This year over 100 restaurants participated in the festival.
Zomato is an Indian restaurant search and discovery service founded in 2008. It currently operates in 24 countries. The company made it to our list because of its unique way of doing business.
Unique aspect about the platform is that both the website and app are available in Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Indonesian and English languages. In 2015, the company also acquired a Seattle-based food portal Urbanspoon marking the firm’s entry into the United States, Canada and Australia, and brought it into direct competition with Yelp, Zagat and OpenTable.
In February 2017, Zomato was in the innovation forefront and launched Zomato Infrastructure Services (ZIS), a cloud computing platform that the company plans to work with current restaurant owners to expand their business to more locations without incurring any fixed cost. The infrastructure as a service platform could be delivery-only food courts without any take-out or dine-in facilities.
The company first launched a print version of the website content named, “Citibank Zomato Restaurant Guide”, in collaboration with Citibank in May 2012, but it has since been discontinued. The company also made it to the news sometime back after its site was hacked and large amounts of customer data accessed, however they were able to fix the situation.
Travelstart is an African online travel booking website, offering flights, hotel bookings, car rental, vacation packages and other travel services through their online booking engine.
As of February 2016, the company had its operations in about 16 countries. The website uses global distribution systems such as Amadeus IT Group and Travelfusion for flights, and CarTrawler for online car hire bookings.
Most of the company’s revenue is generated from Pay per click (PPC) advertising, as well as an extensive affiliate network. All Travelstart websites use Thawte to secure online payments.
Jumia Travel was founded in 2013 by the E-commerce platform Africa Internet Group (now Jumia) and is backed by MTN, Rocket Internet, Millicom, Orange, Axa and financial partners as Jovago.com . Jumia Travel operations were started in Nigeria first and have since expanded to other African countries starting with Kenya, then Senegal and Algeria.
In June 2016, the company was rebranded from Jovago.com to Jumia Travel, to join other companies in the Jumia ecosystem. The Jumia Travel website operates out of 10 local offices across Africa and 3 regional headquarters in its main African markets (Lagos, Nairobi and Dakar).
The website is available in English and French as well as in other African languages (Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa and Swahili), making Jumia Travel the first global travel agency to use local African languages on its website. The customer service provides support 24/7 out of its African offices.
In East Africa Jumia Travel offers both resident and non-resident rates to encourage people living in the region to travel to neighboring countries. Customers can pay using local payment options including mobile payment applications such as M-Pesa or MTN’s mobile money.
Jumia Travel uses mobile apps, Extranet, Progressive Web App and can provide customer support on tools like Whatsapp, Viber for Mobile, following the growing internet and smartphone penetration in Africa.
In 2015, the company won “Best Hotel Booking Portal”, “Leading Online Hotel Booking Company” and the “Best Use of Technology” in Nigeria
Quandoo is an application that connects diners with over 17,000 best restaurants around the world via a table reservation system that’s smart and always personalised. Quandoo is a convenient way for diners to discover new places to eat, book tables online, get exclusive deals and offers and review their experience afterwards. Founded in 2012, over 50 million diners already make up the Quandoo community of online restaurant booking
UberEats is a brand founded Uber. The company made its foray into food delivery in August, 2014 with the launch of the UberFRESH service in Santa Monica, California. In 2015, the platform was renamed to UberEATS, and the ordering software was released as its own application, separate from their app for Uber rides.
Since then UberEATS continued to expand and as of 2018, the service was at “…a $6 billion bookings run rate, growing over 200 percent.” UberEATS is now located in 250 cities with over 300 more locations needed to be equal to Uber.
Unlike most apps, UberEATS Users can read the menu, order, and pay for food from participating resturaunts using their device using a application on the iOS or Android platforms or through a web browser.
Users additionally have the option of giving a tip for delivery. The app detects the user’s location and displays restaurants open at the time separately from those that are closed. Payment is charged to a credit/debit card on file with Uber.
Meals are delivered by couriers using bikes mostly.] Upon ordering, the customer is notified of the total price combining delivery fee and meal price. Customers can also easily track the delivery status after the order is placed.
What is unique about the platform is that it also occasionally features food from local celebrity chefs wishing to increase their public visibility, including some who do not have physical restaurants.
Depending on the city, people can sign up to deliver food orders for Uber Eats using their car, bike, scooter, or on foot. Delivery partners earn money for each delivery trip based on number of trips and the distance between the restaurant and the dropoff location.
The Elewana Collection of 15 boutique lodges, camps and hotels is known for its unique accommodations in iconic locations across Kenya and Tanzania. Elewana crafts authentic and memorable safari experiences, providing the highest quality of luxury and comfort. Warm and genuine East African hospitality characterises a safari with Elewana, where guests are indulged with a luxurious and personalised stay.
The origin of the name Elewana is the Swahili word meaning “harmony”, a concept that underpins our company philosophy and influences the way we deliver unforgettable safari experiences. We continually strive to leave as little impact as possible on our surrounding environment, while creating a positive impact on local communities through our Land and Life Foundation.
The Land and Life Foundation is Elewana’s commitment to responsible tourism, ensuring future generations can enjoy the wonders of Africa and safari adventure. Land & Life believes that the sustainability of East Africa’s wildlife and habitats depends on four key actions: securing land for conservation, protecting species and their environment, providing tangible benefits to the people who live alongside wildlife, and educating the next generation of conservationists. Land & Life achieves this through four core programs – WildLife Warrior Program, School Support, Medical Support and Nature Conservation Program.
Hilton made it to our list since it is the first hotel worldwide to apply robotics technology. In 2016 Hilton Worldwide partnerd with IBM to pilot Connie – first Watson-enabled robot concierge in the hospitality industry. Connie draws on domain knowledge from Watson and WayBlazer to inform guests on local tourist attractions, dining recommendations and hotel features and amenities.
Connie will work side-by-side with Hilton’s Team Members to assist with visitor requests, personalize the guest experience and empower travelers with more information to help them plan their trips. Connie uses a combination of Watson APIs, including Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech and Natural Language Classifier, to enable it to greet guests upon arrival and to answer questions about hotel amenities, services and hours of operation.
Connie is powered by Watson, a cognitive computing technology platform that represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do – through senses, learning and experience.
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