Calling for room service is kind of annoying, though it's one of the most first world-type of problems one could have. But that's just to say the hotel industry is behind, technologically speaking.
Startup AavGo is trying to fix that by bringing iPads into hotels to enable hotel staff to communicate among themselves, as well as enable hotel guests to easily communicate with staff -- therefore getting rid of the need for room service phone calls and trips to the front desk.
This past week, AavGo's service between hotel guests and hotel staff officially launched at the five hotel brands at which it operates. Up until this point, AavGo only enabled communication between staff. That means guests at hotels like The Row Hotel and Hotel Strata can use the AavGo-provided tablet in their room to request things like food, toothpaste, extra pillows or maintenance.
"We're trying to eliminate the need of a phone call," AavGo co-founder Mrunal Desai told me. "And eliminate the need of going to the front desk. If the customer needs any kind of service from the hotel, you can request it from the tablet."
On the hotel side, not much is required, other than Wi-Fi. One competitor in this space is ALICE, which provides a system to run a hotel on a single platform and touts customers like Triumph Hotels, Sixty Hotels and Nylo Hotels. Last January, the startup raised a $9.5 million Series A round led by Expedia, which brought its total funding to $13 million.
The two services seem pretty similar, but Desai says a key differentiator is that AavGo is focused on more than just boutique hotels. Another key difference is that AavGo provides in-room tablets.
AavGo, which charges hotels $5 per room per month, aims to be live at 50 hotels by the end of this year. By December 2018, the goal is to hit 500 hotels. A couple of months ago, the startup closed a $1 million round of funding.