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.”
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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
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.