Everything is going digital including restaurant reservations and guest management. Amazon.com’s Alexa Fund thinks voice can lend itself to the hospitality industry too, particularly restaurants, and as a result recently made its first investment ever in a software as a service company geared toward that industry.
Called SevenRooms, the startup provides restaurant owners with an all-in-one reservation, seating and guest management platform. With the funding, the amount of which was undisclosed, SevenRooms will roll out voice enabled technology for the industry. SevenRooms also plans to integrate Alexa, the voice-activated digital assistant of Amazon, into restaurant operations and its guest relationship management SaaS platform.
“Much like Amazon itself, SevenRooms is a company that understands the importance of an incredible customer experience. By deploying their technology, restaurant operators can make smarter decisions on marketing, guest relationship management, staffing, and more, and ultimately present dining guests with a more enjoyable experience,” said Paul Bernard, Director of the Alexa Fund at Amazon in a press release announcing the investment. “We have been impressed by the company’s growth over the past year, and we are eager to see more restaurants begin to adopt SevenRooms and utilize Alexa as a way to interact with its service.”
SevenRooms To Integrate With Alexa
With the funding, SevenRooms plans to use Alexa Skills Kit to build skills that let restaurant operators use voice commands for everyday services. In one example laid out by SevenRooms Alexa could ask guests at a particular table if they have any food allergies. The idea is to create a more personalized dining experience for the customers in which they don’t have to do anything to obtain it. Through data, in theory, they could know if a repeat customer has a favorite beverage, temperature for his or her food or any dietary restrictions. “Voice-powered technology is already impacting every industry, and continues to play a central role in the daily lives of consumers and the businesses they interact with,” said Joel Montaniel, Founder and CEO of SevenRooms. “At SevenRooms we are always looking at ways our technology can streamline operations while personalizing and humanizing the guest experience.” The investment comes on the heels of an $8 million Series A funding round which happened in December of 2017 and was led by Comcast Ventures.
Amazon Isn’t Getting Complacent With Alexa
While Amazon’s Alexa is by far the most popular voice-activated digital assistant, finding its way into all sorts of applications beyond its line of Echo speakers, it isn’t getting complacent. The Alexa Fund, which provides up to $200 million in venture funding, is aimed at boosting usages for its technology. The investments the fund makes are geared toward those companies that can further drive innovation around its digital assistant. It is looking to invest in hardware products, skills that deliver new abilities to Alexa-enabled devices and new contributions to the science behind voice technology, including text to speech, natural language understanding, automatic speech recognition, and artificial intelligence. The Alexa Fund has made investments in a variety of companies including Ring, which it acquired this year and Musaic to name two. The fund was launched in November of 2017. This past summer Amazon announced it was expanding the fellowship program within the fund to 18 universities.