Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Japan's struggle continues to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers for the increasing number of tourists. Unsurprisingly, one of the top complaints from the tourists is the communication difficulty with the locals, especially outside the major cities. To respond to such challenges, Tokyo-based Bespoke, Inc. is launching Japan's first artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot concierge BEBOT in two historical hotels of the Aomori prefecture: Tsuta Onsen and Hotel Jogakura.
The innovative chatbot works through a combination of human chat services and AI that presents information for all of Japan from its many exclusive databases. This way, tourists needing help or inspiration are never left completely to their own devices. Inspiration for such services came while traveling to Bespoke, Inc.'s founder and CEO Akemi Tsunagawa. Her travel experiences differed dramatically whether she had a local friend or not. "BEBOT can act like your friend in Japan," she says. Perhaps as close to a virtual friend as you can get. When the AI cannot answer, an English-speaking human is available to answer the question in real time.
From the hotel side, however, BEBOT is a never resting multilingual employee. On top of the local recommendations, BEBOT is uniquely tailored to each of the exclusive hotels to answer frequently asked questions (FAQ) – e.g. check out time – or make simple requests to the front desk. All one needs to do is check in at one of the select hotels, and receive the token to activate the personalized concierge.
BEBOT is on the leading edge among the increasingly popular hotel chatbots. It is neither a human-only or purely text-messaging app, and does not require constant human support. Benefits are felt for both users - access via existing Facebook accounts, option to leave quick reviews - and hotels alike - quickly customizable for each establishment within an hour, sourcing Bespoke databases, and collecting valuable user data for cross-sales opportunities. Any size of hotel is eligible. After inaugural launch in Aomori, BEBOT is scheduled for release in major hotel chains from the US and Singapore.
The new BEBOT concierge offers a more care-free experience exploring local areas to travelers. With BEBOT, Bespoke, Inc. aims to enable authentic local experiences by bringing people the top recommendations as rated by locals, or hidden-gems only those living nearby would know. With options such as getting directions, checking restaurant reviews and immediately booking restaurants without ever leaving the chat screen, BEBOT takes the planning – and communication – hassle away. This way both travelers and hotels can spend more time on what truly matters – enjoying the amazing local experiences and providing services that only humans can.
Tokyo-based Bespoke Inc. provides data and AI-driven services for travel. Having raised seed capital from Archetype Ventures in September 2016, Bespoke Inc. has also been selected by IBM as one of five companies inducted into the third phase of the IBM BlueHub Incubation program that aims to support Japan's long-term growth and competitiveness. Current products include BEBOT, the AI chat concierge and LEVART travel site with users from over 100 countries.