Hotel Kiosk Project
The first outbreak of the COVID pandemic in Mar 2020 has put Malaysian hotel businesses to a halt. The first Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed to contain the outbreak. However, while the MCO contained the outbreak, it also hampered all the business activities.
In the next twelve months after Mar 2020 (the first MCO), I learned all the bad news - hotels shutting down, hoteliers getting laid off, experienced hotel veterans retiring earlier (VSS, volunteering separation scheme), etc. My fellow friends who used to travel before the COVID to attend expos tried to stay connected with tons of online seminars and panel sessions. I remembered watching those video footages on the news showing empty streets and logo of familiar hotel brands with headlines - "Another hotel shutting down".
In the office, at Softinn, worried looms. Though I appeared calm from the outside, I believe internally, I'm stressed. Caren (my wife) noticed the "uneasiness" in my sleep while I notice only a lil difference. Stress that goes unnoticed is the one that is deadly.
Softinn can't do well if our customers (the hotels) are not doing well. The shareholders' meetings seem like soul searching discussions (occasionally debates) that lead to no solution. We have no idea what we need to do with our business - pivot? hibernate? shutting it down?
While some of the industry players chose to pivot into the food delivery business, groceries delivery business, online seminar, training business etc, Softinn hunkered down. We're trying to keep the business afloat (without laying off) while trying to look for the next lifebuoy. We had a few discussions. We don't know what we were doing.
Based on our discussions (and occasionally debates), we choose the path of either we survive or we die. Instead of looking for another stream of revenue, we choose to develop our solution further for the hotel industry. This is a bid. If the COVID extended, we ran out of business; the business die. If we survive, our solution will help the industry to resume its business and thrive after the pandemic. Shareholders raised their concern about the cost of the RnD and wonder if we have the financial support to do this. We tried asking for a government grant, no success. We have to somehow figure it out ourself. No additional financial support. That's how we started the Hotel Kiosk Projet, full of uncertainties and yet determined.
Today (13.Apr.2022), I'm glad that we're still here. I can only say that humans are resilient, and the business can only be as resilient as those who work in it. In this case, the Softinn team did it together. We're grateful to our customers, partners, and family members who supported us during this trying period.
Our bid seems to be working. The hotel industry is recovering, the inquiries for the hotel kiosk have gone up and the number of hotels with kiosk installations has also grown. On top of that, the transactions over the kiosk are also on an uptrend. Some of our customers (e.g GG Hotel Sunway and Kavy Hotel Cameron Highlands) went all the way to the unmanned hotel concept. They entirely rely on the kiosk to serve the guest.
Here are some of the photos taken during this period.