ALICE Gets $9.5M From Expedia, Others for Hospitality Ops Platform
Room service can save time when you’re staying at a hotel, but what if the food never arrives?
That is the kind of problem New York-based ALICE wants to help hoteliers tackle with a software platform that manages their operations. On Tuesday, the company said it raised $9.5 million in a Series A round led by Expedia, with Laconia, 645 Ventures, and founders of Neuehouse participating.
Hoteliers can use ALICE’s software to handle requests from guests or its own staffers for such tasks as room service and repairs. Co-founder Alex Shashou says ALICE developed its software in response to the frustrations travelers sometimes face. “From the guest’s perspective, it seems so easy to make a request and for it to be fulfilled,” he says.
But those requests can get lost or delayed because of archaic communications systems within hotels, as well as different staff departments that operate in isolation. Housekeeping may function separately from maintenance, for example.
When hotels use the ALICE platform, their guests can access an app that lets them reach out for services and see how far along their requests have gotten. “You’re giving guests the luxury of choice for how they make the request, but you’re giving the staff one system to manage them,” Shashou says.
The company wants to grow its customer base, he says, particularly with hotels in New York, San Francisco, Miami, and other major tourist cities across the country. ALICE’s primary clientele are boutique and independent hotels with 50 to 350 rooms. “They want to find a competitive advantage with Airbnb and the sharing economy encroaching on their space,” he says.
In addition to speaking to grievances travelers may have, development of ALICE’s software also drew upon Shashou’s experience growing up and working in the hotel industry. He also worked at Goldman Sachs in equity sales before ALICE’s founding. He says the idea for ALICE took shape in 2012, and in 2013 the startup’s co-founders raised a friends and family funding round. That same year, the first version of ALICE launched in beta.
A seed round followed, Shashou says, with the original goal of raising $750,000—but the company brought in nearly $3 million when the round closed at the end of 2014.
The Series A round, he says, will be used to build up the company’s sales team and expand its engineering presence in New York. “We have a lot of our product team sitting in Kiev, Rio de Janeiro, and Moscow,” Shashou says. “We’re trying to get visas for one of our senior engineers in Rio de Janeiro to come up here.” The company currently has a staff of 27 with plans for at least 15 more hires, he says.