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TradFit: Contactless Concierge Applications to Boost Productivity
Operating 365 days a year, the tourism and accommodation industry is a tough one to run. Among other services industries, its job separation rate is one of the highest. There are chronic personnel shortages and aspects of coping with languages, increased personnel costs, and operational efficiency issues. According to data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan on the job separation rate, the hiring rate is almost equal to the turnover rate. Regarding languages, the accommodation facilities are unable to cope with multiple languages, leading to lost opportunities. In addition to a shortage of labour, especially ones qualified in understanding various languages, it is also costly to allocate staff who can serve foreign customers.
Japan-based TradFit addresses these challenges by developing concierge applications that use AI speakers with graphics to support various guest requests to improve accommodation facilities’ profitability. The company provides a way to lower costs for hospitalities by delegating specific tasks to the AI, which saves time for employees and streamlines fulfilling guest requests. “TradFit is a service that utilizes voice, AI, IoT technologies, and more to improve the operation of accommodation facilities and the experience of travelers,” says Yoshiki Toda, CEO of TradFit.
TradFit offers a service that allows facilities to provide hospitality to the guest requests given by voice commands without being overwhelmed by inquiries from guest rooms. For example, the company can provide recommendations for facilities, tenants, and services inside and outside the accommodation and room service and borrow items. These functions benefit the guests by providing prompt services. There will be no waiting on the phone line or having to stop by the front desk.In addition to contactless voice operation, TradFit’s chat system, combining AI with human response, enables integrated management that includes guests’ special requests. By analyzing the accumulated big data, the company can visualize the guests’ requests both at peak and off-peak times, leading to further improvements in operations, services, and marketing. “As clients adopt our system, they can reduce costs such as PBX or phone installation while expecting an ROI even during the first year,” says Toda. Besides, TradFit is currently working on its Property Management System (PMS) that will be able to improve further operations, services, and marketing of group assets tailored to various types of attributes without identifying personal information. “This will allow us to provide even more finely tuned guest services,” says Toda.
TradFit’s AI helps hospitality clients streamline their services, freeing up employees’ time resulting in an enhanced work-life balance. At the same time, the company enables significant cost savings in reducing labour and eliminating unnecessary equipment. For example, a hotel with 200 guest rooms no longer requires a VoD system that costs around 4.4 million yen and saves approximately 4.7 million yen for the replacement of guest room equipment (clocks and high-class speakers) together with phones. “We calculated the cost reductions to be 15.2 million yen in the first year and 50.4 million yen by the fifth year.”
Especially in today’s times when the hospitality industry uses trial and error to try and hold down even small expenditures, TradFit allows revision of unnecessary expenses. These unnecessary costs could be contributed towards the raise of employee wages. Clients choose TradFit’s service as it can be managed remotely by small numbers of people that protect employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic as they need not get in touch with any of the guests. “Our services help provide safety and reassurance to guests and to staff of accommodation facilities,” says Toda.
As clients adopt our system, they can reduce costs such as PBX or phone installation while expecting an ROI even during the first year
The Inception and Powerhouse of Creative Ideas
Interestingly, what acted as the stimulus behind TradFit’s inception was Toda’s love for travel and sightseeing that gave him raw insights into language communication difficulties outside English-speaking countries. The passion for travel coupled with the determination to the national policy of tourism led to the inception of TradFit. “Our current services were developed from this, combined with the potential for using natural voice-operated services.”
Today, TradFit’s services are powered by a versatile team of industry experts, formerly from Google and Apple, who have expertise in speech recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning, to strengthen its products. “Under our inspiring and creative company culture, engineers are encouraged to handle cutting-edge technologies such as voice interfaces, natural language understanding solutions, human-computer interaction technologies, and more to make SaaS products of excellence,” says Toda. TradFit’s multicultural flat international team with diverse backgrounds promoting a diverse culture prevents them from having a one-sided view. TradFit has continually rolled out better services and business insights by analyzing various big data using machine learning and artificial intelligence. Also, by attending different types of orders and FAQs from accommodation guests and providing recommendations inside and outside the accommodation facilities, TradFit can raise the accommodation facilities’ unit price and improve guests’ experiences, allowing the facilities to function as a hub of local activity.
Branching Out for the Good
TradFit has multiple patents already related to voice assistant devices, including all AI speaker devices and more. These patents cover all the main systems that hotels use in Japan, other Asian countries, EU and the U.S. “We have built up dominance through acquisition of several patents for business, development, data volumes, and other core areas,” says Toda. By accumulating large volumes of data, the company has rapidly improved its services and quickly undertaken intellectual property strategies, creating a dominant position that makes it difficult for other companies to gain access. “By having those patents, other competitors cannot provide the services with any similarity on our AI speaker and other voice assistant devices. Also, we have easy access to decision-makers in hotels via an advisors’ network and they have valuable internal information that other competitors cannot get,” says Toda.
As Japan’s working population decreases, TradFit’s ability to provide services operated naturally by voice has led to inquiries from the accommodation and tourism industry and many other industries. The company already holds a large track record of implementation of its services, and with inbound tourism expected to return in the future, it is receiving more inquiries from business operators in each of the prefectures of Japan and other countries. “We will begin to bring our business to other countries and aim toward an IPO. We are building our business realistically without pursuing easy money by openly collaborating with our partners to solve problems based on the ‘three goods’ principle good for the seller, good for the buyer, and good for society and the concepts of the SDGs and ESG,” says Today.
Simultaneously, the company is steadily working on its business and various partner companies and the prefectural governments’ policies, focusing on solutions to social issues in Japan. “Our vision is to ‘solve inequalities and disparities throughout the world.’ As well as ensuring that the hospitality industry becomes a more attractive industry. There are always issues to be tackled in any age, but we hope to contribute in our way with our partners to solve the problems that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed.”