Entrepreneur

No Queues, No Forms: This S'pore Startup Lets You Quickly Check In To Hotels With A Selfie

[Article has been updated on 15 July]

Hotel guests everywhere face a common predicament: long waiting lines to check-in.

In fact, a study from Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality found that just a five-minute wait at check-in causes guest satisfaction to drop by 50 per cent.

But what if there was a way to make the process quicker, easier, and leaner?

This is where GTRIIP comes in. It’s a local startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically verify photo IDs and owners, thereby significantly reducing the time taken to check in a guest by 70 per cent.

We speak to GTRIIP’s founder, Maxim Tint, on what inspired him to design a digital solution to eliminate time-consuming check-in processes and facilitate contactless check-ins during Covid-19.

How A Frequent Traveller Reinvented The Check-In Process

It was during his frequent work and leisure trips that sparked Maxim to develop a document-less check in system to get into places like hotels, offices and member clubs.

The self check-in process eliminates the need for paperwork at the hotel’s front desk and helps to reduce the check-in time to less than five minutes.

The Stanford University’s School of Business graduate shared that whenever he took a flight, he had a particular pain point: filling up the immigration form.

And when he arrived at his hotel, he had to go through the same process of filling in registration forms. Vexed with these manual processes, it prompted him to do something about it.

When we started, the problem we were trying to solve was very broad. We were fed up with paper forms and registration cards, and believed humans should be able to travel without physical documents.

– Maxim Tint, CEO and founder of GTRIIP

In fact, at that time, digital identity solutions were still new and unprecedented.

Fast forward six years later, GTRIIP is a leader in contactless check-in procedures for hotels.

With just a smartphone, a hotel guest can easily book a room, check in remotely and verify their identity with a selfie — matched against their passport image — upon arrival.

The app serves as a “pocket concierge” by allowing guests to skip the process of queuing and waiting at the hotel lobby to be issued physical key cards to their rooms.

A digital key will be presented to the guest through their phone, which they can immediately use to access the lift lobby and their respective room.

Image Credit: GTRIIP

Calling themselves a “digital identity platform for global citizens”, he added, “This was our vision while I was travelling and staying in hotels. This was also our inspiration to create a digital identity solution.”

GTRIIP does not provide a hotel with a property management system (PMS), but we complement how guests’ information is being populated from their smartphones into a PMS.

All the necessary information is sent directly from the guests’ smartphones to the hotel’s PMS, eliminating the need for any paperwork.

– Maxim Tint, CEO and founder of GTRIIP

As this no longer presents the need for the physical exchange of documents, this technology was especially essential when social distancing measures have to be observed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly, this product comes at an opportune time given that the world is lifting travel restrictions.

The GTRIIP Team / Image Credit: GTRIIP

Once inside the room, GTRIIP yet again provides digital smartphone access to a wide array of features.

Too cold? Adjust the temperature on your screen. Feeling hungry? Open the digital menu to order. Need more pillows? Tap on the e-concierge button. Have a burning question you need answered? Contact a staff member using GTRIIP’s chatbot function.

Decreases Check-In Time By 70 Per Cent

According to The Singapore Tourism Board, it takes around 10 minutes to complete a typical check-in — two minutes to verify the guest’s profile, three minutes to record the profile, two minutes to process payment, two minutes to assign a room, and one minute to issue a room key. And this is assuming there’s no check-in queue.

GTRIIP allows a check-in to happen in less than five minutes, without compromising on security, said Maxim.

“It is challenging for hotel front desk staff to tell the difference with good accuracy between people who look alike with their own naked eyes, or reject a check-in because of this uncertainty.”

“Having technology such as computer vision to consistently provide this level of accurate verification of guests in real time allows the hotels to automatically detect if a person attempts to check-in with a fraudulent passport,” he added.

Image Credit: GTRIIP

Maxim added that he views companies which provide physical kiosks as competition. However, he emphasises that the key differentiation that GTRIIP offers is affordability, sustainability and scalability.

“When we are rolling out the software that runs on your existing smartphone that you already own, it’s a much more affordable and sustainable solution, while at the same time being more easily scalable.

“That’s the reason we can roll out to 13,000 rooms in such a short time. It would have been an uphill battle if we were trying to do that with a physical kiosk,” he said.

Additionally, in a post Covid-19 world, physical kiosks are not practical and a contactless check-in process would be something that travellers will consider before they book a hotel room.

Facilitated Over 1 Million Check-Ins

GTRIIP has completed over 1 million check-ins globally, and currently serves over 25,000 hotel rooms and office access points.

It counts Park Hotel Group, Amara Holdings Limited, one of the top hotel casino groups in Macau among their clientele.

For conglomerate Park Hotel Group, they had done a test drive of GTRIIP at its Singapore’s Grand Park City Hall Hotel. Following that, the Group has already started discussions about rolling out GTRIIP’s contactless check-in solution to the rest of the group.

Another hotel chain Amara Singapore, is already using the GTRIIP solution at Tanjong Pagar. Currently, the group is also implementing this solution at Amara Sanctuary located in Sentosa island.

A major hotel casino group in Macau has implemented GTRIIP solution in all of their five properties.

Before employing the GTRIIP solution, guests used to take more than an hour to check-in at their properties. This has since been shortened to less than 10 minutes with GTRIIP’s contactless software.

Our hotel customers have chosen to adopt our contactless check-in software because it cuts down guest check-in time from an average of 10 minutes to two minutes.

With the optional mobile key feature for some hotels with smart locks, it could become as fast as 30 seconds, because we could even send their room key to the guest’s phone, even before arrival at the hotel. 

– Maxim Tint, CEO and founder of GTRIIP

The hotel casino group is also in the process of extending the contracts for all properties for the next five years.

Working With Government Agencies

As the technology and the very concept of binding biometrics to a human identity was still new when they first started, they had to work together with relevant parties — often government agencies — to ensure that this (GTRIIP’s digital solution) is safer, and more secure than paper documents, and make it fully compliant with regulatory frameworks.

This is a typical example of an innovation, just like ride-sharing or accommodation-sharing, that is ahead of regulations that are currently in place at the time. It took us two years to get to this stage.

– Maxim Tint, CEO and founder of GTRIIP

Fortunately, in Singapore, organisations like Singapore Hotel Association and Singapore Tourism Board were very supportive of innovations like this.

The GTRIIP Team / Image Credit: GTRIIP

Through them, GTRIIP was able to further their conversations with Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration Checkpoint Authority to ensure that their biometrics-based digital identity technology is secure and compliant with all the regulatory frameworks.

Taking initiative to engage with authorities early from research and prototyping stages of our product features was important, added Maxim.

Raised S$2.1 Million To Date

The company has raised a total of US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) in funding over two rounds, and an undisclosed amount in their third Series B funding round in early 2020.

In 2018, GTRIIP raised US$1 million in their Series A funding from connectivity solutions provider M1.

In early 2020, they secured their Series B funding round for an undisclosed amount. The latest investors to come onboard include Japanese VC firm Global Brain, through the KDDI Open Innovation Fund No. 3 (KOIF), which manages the investment portfolios of the major Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI Corporation.

Other investors include Kepventure Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Corporation, a Singaporean multi-business company focused on sustainable urbanisation and Accord Ventures, a Japanese VC firm.

GTRIIP projects that its revenue for 2019 will hit about US$2 million, and triple to US$6 million in 2020.

They are planning to raise their next round of funding potentially in 2021.

Implementing Contactless Check-Ins To More Hotels

With Covid-19, hotels across Europe reported single-digit occupancy rates in April. Singapore has also been hit, with occupancy rates plummeting by around 30 per cent in February.

In Singapore, GTRIIP’s customer hotels are enabled with the Singapore Tourism Board’s E-Visitor Authentication (EVA) system, reducing guest check-in time at the front desk by 70 percent.

GTRIIP’s Grand Park City Hall Hotel app / Image Credit: GTRIIP

Currently, with countries starting to lift travel restrictions, more hospitality providers are looking to reopen safely and win back consumers.

To make this possible, hotels are turning to contactless check-in technology to reduce direct contact between guests and staff. Due to this trend, there has been an increased demand for GTRIIP’s “contactless” check-in solution.

We are currently talking to five international hotel chains to roll out the GTRIIP contactless solution to all their properties. We have engaged them for more than one year and discussions are at an advanced stage.

We receive an average of 10 inquiries per week from the hotels that are looking to provide a “contactless solution” to their guests.

– Maxim Tint, CEO and founder of GTRIIP

Besides that, GTRIIP has also embarked on a robust Value-Added Reseller (VAR) program globally. The resellers are essentially GTRIIP’s extended teams in key markets. They will represent GTRIIP to sell and provide first level support to the hotel clients.

It also has plans to diversify its product lines into new verticals and launch specialised products for other commercial properties, such as tenant access and visitor access.

The company is set to onboard more developers, engineers, researchers, client success specialists and sales team members.

Currently, they are focused in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka markets.

Why Were Contactless Check-In Systems Not Widely In Place?

This COVID-19 crisis has forced the hospitality industry to recognise the challenges in this environment and relook into their ways of doing business.

As we gear up for country borders to reopen and travel to resume soon, travellers will still be very cautious about international travel.

Hoteliers have realised that they must implement a contactless check-in solution like GTRIIP immediately to welcome guests whilst adhering to social-distancing guidelines.

This also begs the question: Contactless check-in systems have been present before pandemic days, but why were many hotels still using physical check-in counters, kiosks and issuing physical room cards?

Authorities worldwide should enable the feasibility to relax existing rules and allow all hotels to adopt the facial recognition system as a means for guests to check-in.

This will ensure that they can continue to be in business as people seek to maintain social distancing from other people. One of the travel trends set to emerge after the Covid-19 pandemic is a shift towards private rental properties over crowded hotels.

In order to get guests to patronise them, hotels need to ensure that they take full responsibility for their guests’ safety.

Additionally, a digital check-in solution would also shorten the time taken for guests to check-in and allow hotel employees to “focus on higher value-added tasks”.

Featured Image Credit: GTRIIP

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