Startup Stage Saba Hospitality

Saba Hospitality

Saba Hospitality is building solutions for the hospitality
industry using artificial intelligence and scalable chatbot technology. 

The company’s first product is a multi-language chatbot that
can handle all guest inquiries, both pre-stay and in-room, including food and
beverage ordering.

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
startup.

Our business builds fit-for-purpose solutions specifically
for the hospitality industry. While technological advancement occurs rapidly in
many industries, hospitality tends to lag, leading to a disconnect between how
modern travelers would like to engage with hospitality businesses and how they
are able to. We build solutions that focus on bridging this gap in order to
provide guests with experiences that align with their needs and expectations,
while keeping in mind ROI for operators considering current trends in both the
hospitality and technology markets.

Our initial offering, SABAGuest, is an artificial
intelligence-driven chatbot, which automates communication in order to
eliminate the dissatisfaction experienced by guests due to antiquated
communication methods that are inefficient, costly and no longer meet the needs
and wants of modern travelers.

A 360-degree solution providing a centralized communication
platform, SABAGuest not only enhances the guest experience, but improves hotel
efficiency, decreases labor costs, drives hotel revenue and frees up staff to
engage in truly meaningful guest interactions. The solution is capable of
managing all guest questions and requests, gathering real-time guest sentiment,
making recommendations, presenting the latest hotel offers and driving food and
beverage revenue via our digital ordering platform. It can be customized to
meet the needs of each individual property, while maintaining a consistent
brand language across an entire group.

But best of all, it allows any guest, from any country, to
chat with a hotel in their own native language, truly breaking down the
language barriers that modern travel has brought. And it can be deployed into a
single property, or an entire group, in less than one week.

Website

www.sabahospitality.com/

Twitter

www.twitter.com/SabaHospitality

What inspired you to
create this company?

After a combined 50 years in the hotel industry, the
founders saw trends within the industry that current solutions were failing to
address. With strong backgrounds in both operations and hotel technology, they
saw an opportunity to create solutions that would solve these problems and
create real impact for both travelers and operators alike.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.

  • Strengths
    • Executive team has strong backgrounds in hospitality and
      understands the barriers to implementing a product into the operational
      environment of a hotel.
    • The founders have strong and well-established relationships
      within the industry that can assist in getting in front of the decision makers
      at a property or at corporate level.
    • Our operational experience has allowed us to develop a
      product that considers both guests desires and operational necessity when
      making a successful integration. This has allowed us to recognize what features
      to develop in order to increase guest uptake and maximize the products appeal
      to operators.
    • The company sits in Macau, which is a low taxing environment
      and enjoys preferential customer bases over foreign companies.
    • The company and product development is self-funded and 100%
      owned by the founders.
  • Weaknesses
    • First time to build and found a start-up at this scale
    • Lack of sales and marketing experience as well as budget
      restraints in rolling out a marketing and sales strategy.
    • Founders reside in different locations (Macau, Sydney,
      Adelaide) – communication channels not ideal.
    • Our website design and traffic is not currently reaching its
      potential.
  • Opportunities 
    • Chatbots in hospitality rapidly gaining traction
    • Very few current competitors (especially in the target
      markets of Asia and Australia.
    • Current competitors appear to be targeting larger hotel
      groups (corporates) and have put little focus on developing the solution for
      smaller properties or private rentals.
  • Threats 
    • Multiple chatbot developers join the market and confuse the
      market. Hoteliers not enough knowledge to compare solutions apple to apple.
    • Some competitors have better funding in place, which may
      allow them to gain quick market share.
    • Large hotel groups have their own means to develop chatbots,
      although they are no experts in Hospitality AI.

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate
from both the customer and the industry perspective?

  • Customer pain points
    • Rising labor costs
    • Inconsistent service quality
    • Poor product knowledge
    • Different communication channels at each stage of the guest
      journey
    • Difficulties arising from language barriers
    • Inefficiency resulting from staff having to continually
      engage in low-value repetitive interactions
  • Industry pain points (Travelers)
    • Overcoming the anxiety caused by language barriers when
      traveling in foreign countries
    • Allowing guests to communicate with a property via their
      preferred method (messaging)
    • Eliminating the need to wait for simple answers to simple
      questions

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of
customers?

Thus far we have gained customers via attending trade shows,
researching and approaching independent hotels and smaller groups who we
believe would benefit from our solution and contributing to industry
publications to raise awareness. Moving forward, we would like to implement a
targeted and far-reaching marketing campaign that includes: advertising in
industry magazines, establishing strong relationships with influential and
effective re-sellers in the different regions, continued integration into other
technologies that would open up new markets, internet marketing optimization
and continued product developments that would see our product as the market
leader in automated communication within hospitality.

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

Over 50 years combined experience in hotel operations
allowed us to identify a need in the market for our solution. Additionally,
there are alternative providers that supplied automated communication solutions
to the market that had already established a demand for such products in the
United States.

With over 300,000 hotels worldwide, and over six million
private rentals, the size of the market gives us confidence that we can
continue to expand and developed the business into a valuable asset.

How and when will you make money?

We have implemented a SaaS model where hotels or
accommodation providers are charged on a per room subscription basis each
month. We are already generating revenue following our product release in April
this year.

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?

Three of the four founders have over 50 years combined
experience in hotel operations and technology. Each have held senior leadership
positions in some of the world’s largest and most prestigious hotels and
integrated resorts, with our Chief Technology officer being recognized with the
China Hotel Awards “Technology Leader of the Year” award in 2015. Two co-founders
have previously run successful business, with one continuing to hold part
ownership of the highest-rated dessert offering in Bali, Indonesia.

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business
so far?

Prioritizing where our limited amount of capital would best
be utilized has been our greatest challenge. To date, the company has been fully
self-funded, with the majority of capital being used on product development and
tradeshows. Each co-founder has been working full-time within the business for
over a year to without drawing a salary or any profit. We have also experienced
challenges in educating hospitality operators about the efficacy of technology
that for many is very new. Many operators are reluctant to be the first to
adopt new technology, especially from a company in its relative infancy.

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making
an impact – so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

Because we are an operations company with a passion for
technology, not a technology company. This gives us unique insight into the
operational requirements to successfully integrate a solution into not only a
single hotel, but across an entire group. It is difficult for providers who
lack this ground-level operational experience to account for all the
operational considerations that must be accounted for to create real long-term
value.

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