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Platforms Featured Global

Travel tech Vouch’s US$1.1m seed funding to mark EU market entry

Singapore – Vouch, a Singapore-based travel tech startup that offers its guest experience platform to hotels in various markets, has successfully closed its US$1.1m seed funding, to which they aim to target to open European operations, starting off with the setup of their operations in London, United Kingdom.

This marks the company’s third in-country branch along with its presence in Indonesia and South Korea, to which they will be looking to build on its new and existing partnerships with hotel chains in these markets for expansion.

Vouch provides AI-powered technology to the hospitality and travel segment, including attractions and malls, to enhance productivity, boost revenue and elevate the overall guest experience. The company firmly believes that with technology as an enabler, properties now have the freedom and the ability to focus on things that truly matter.

Said funding was led by Forge Ventures, and will be used for expansion and product development for a new category of technology for hotels: the guest experience platform.

The company’s guest experience platform allows guests to check-in, make room requests, order food and beverage and get instant answers to commonly asked questions, just by scanning a QR code on their mobile phones.

Furthermore, Vouch has seen wide adoption of its platform in Asia to improve productivity through the streamlining of hotel operations and providing round the clock services for hotel guests.

According to Joseph Ling, founder and CEO at Vouch, the company has rolled out its services and partnered with noteworthy hospitality brands in Asia and is now looking to expand globally. For instance, they have covered 25% of all rooms in Singapore under international groups such as Frasers Hospitality, Hyatt Hotels, Pan Pacific Hotels Group and the InterContinental Hotels Group.

“There is a genuine need for a solution that helps hotels improve manpower efficiency and the pandemic has accelerated this need. Our plan this year is to expand aggressively into new markets that will benefit most from a productivity platform like ours, namely Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and the United Kingdom,” Ling stated.

While travel and tourism have remained low across the world due to COVID-19, Vouch aims to help businesses and consumers in these sectors cope better in a pandemic.

“By incorporating Vouch into their operations, businesses can better plan for manpower requirements and avoid greater uncertainty associated with fluctuating pandemic intensity and accompanying social distancing requirements,” the company said in a press statement.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Communications agency Redhill to manage launch of new Kimpton Kitalay Samui resort in TH

Singapore – Redhill, the Singapore-headquartered public relations and communications agency, has recently won the account for the launch of Kimpton Kitalay Samui, the first resort in Thailand under IHG Hotels & Resorts’ luxury boutique brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

The remit entails the agency to plan and execute a full launch strategy. This is the second Kimpton hotel in Thailand following the brand’s debut in October 2020 of Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, which Redhill also managed the launch of.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Kimpton brand once again to further its distinctive hospitality concept in Thailand,” said Tavy Cussinel, managing director of Redhill. 

“Redhill and Kimpton Kitalay Samui have a shared interest in communicating a differentiated stay experience driven by the power of human connection,” added Cussinel. 

The resort’s name is derived from two Thai words, which are ‘kita’, meaning ‘song’ or ‘singing’, and ‘lay’, which translates to ‘sea’ and which tries to encapsulate the spirit of the local community. ‘Kitalay’, thus, is meant to stand for ‘a joyous ode’ by Kimpton celebrating the ‘siren song’ of the sea as well as ‘the warmth’ of human connection and community in an ‘idyllic escape’. This branding, the agency said, is woven into every aspect of the resort. 

The 138-key luxury boutique beachfront property on Choengmon Beach will open later this year. The resort features luxury pool villas with direct access to the beach and guestrooms with private access to the pool or the views over the Gulf of Thailand. 

This luxury boutique resort aims to conjure the romance of a village that is ‘intimately’ connected to the sea through a combination of contemporary design and traditional accents.

Michael Janssen, general manager of Kimpton Kitalay Samui, said, “Kimpton Kitalay Samui will be our take on the return of the Samui way of life, and celebrate adventure as well as a taste of village living through the resort experiences, four restaurants, and bars.”

On the new partnership, Janssen commented, “It was absolutely vital to us that we work with an agency that fully understands our dedication to thoughtful curation and meaningful, unscripted, and ridiculously personal guest experiences.” 

Last June, Redhill entered MARKETECH APAC’s top stories for its new senior appointments

In an exclusive interview, the agency’s CEO and Founder Jacob Puthenparambil shared how Redhill has always eyed for the global name despite starting out as a boutique agency. 

“We knew from day one that we didn’t want to be a boutique agency. We’re going to fight the big boys,” said Puthenparambil. 

Established in 2014, the agency is embedded in Southeast Asia, with a reach that extends to Northern Asia, Europe, Australia, UAE, and the US. The agency is currently present in 17 countries.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Agoda’s new HygienePlus feature answers to accommodation hygiene standards

Singapore – In response to customer feedback that hygiene plays a major role in the lookout for new accommodations, online travel agency Agoda recently announced HygienePlus, a new verification feature that shows how hotels and other accommodations maintain hygiene standards within their premises.

The feature provides an extensive checklist that accommodations have to follow in regards to sanitary and hygiene protocols which include safety protocol trainings, contactless check in/check out, temperature check, mandatory wearing of face masks, disinfection of rooms, sterilization of equipment, and signs to observe proper social distancing.

 According to Agoda’s latest survey, Asian travelers noted “Hygiene Standard Listings” as a top priority for checking in at accommodations. The survey also revealed “Daily Room Disinfection” and “Daily Disinfection of general areas” to be the most important hygiene measures travelers expect to be implemented by hotels and other accommodation providers.

“People are raring to travel again but need the reassurance that hygiene measures at their destination are rigorous. Hoteliers and accommodation providers need to regain the confidence of travelers and have been working hard to implement safety measures to do so. HygienePlus quickly and easily identifies hotels that are ensuring a safe and hygienic environment,” Omri Morgenstern, chief operating officer at Agoda stated.

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Technology Featured East Asia

India’s hospitality tech firm ViralOps pilots new tool at JW Marriott New Delhi AeroCity

Haryana, India – ViralOps, a global hospitality tech company has recently worked with JW Marriot Hotel New Delhi Aerocity to understand the grassroots level of operational concerns while on lockdown. 

ViralOps pilot-tested its utility tool Vserve Pro-Techt , a one of its kind “Contactless + Efficiency” Tool that digitizes every touchpoint including F&B, spa, housekeeping, and transportation services.

In a press release by ViralOps, the company said that Vserve Pro-Techt is only one-fifth of the cost of such a utility tool.  

After a rigorous certification process, Vserve Pro-Techt got its first approval from Marriott International hotels across Asia-Pacific. With more than 50 hotels being onboarded, ViralOps is still in the process of receiving numerous implementation requests from various hotels in the region.  

They are now servicing branded hotels in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Maldives.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

AirAsia partners with local hotels in Philippines to offer promo deals on new platform SNAP

Manila, Philippines – In its efforts to boost domestic tourism in the Philippines, AirAsia has partnered with local hotels in the country to launch SNAP, a new flight and hotel platform on airasia.com which offers convenient fly and stay packages.  

The airline will be offering an introductory SNAP promotion of up to 50% off on flights when consumers book a flight and hotel via the platform. This special promotional fare will be available on airasia.com from 21 to 27 September 2020, for travel from 21 September 2020 to 25 March 2021.

The airline assures in its press statement that it will be complying with advice and regulations from the local government, civil aviation authorities,  and global and local health agencies, including the World Health Organization. 

The company said that guests can expect enhanced safety measures throughout the entire journey, including pre-flight, in-flight, and arrival processes. These include the mandatory wearing of face masks to be permitted to travel, among others. Guests will also be advised to check and comply with measures implemented by local airport authorities for a smooth travel experience.

AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla said, “We are pleased to launch SNAP in the Philippines to be able to provide new and affordable offerings on airasia.com, especially for business travelers and those planning for their future getaways once leisure travel is permitted.”

Isla added, “Aside from developing airasia.com as Asia’s fastest-growing super app, this initiative has opened up opportunities to work with partner hotels, as we start to recover from the effects of the pandemic which have devastated the travel and tourism industry. We look forward to forming more partnerships with more hotels in the future.”