Olive by Embassy’s Tech-Driven Evolution in the Post-COVID Era – Revolutionizing Hospitality

Kahraman Yigit, Co-founder & CEO, Olive by Embassy, Discusses Bridging Technology with Guest Satisfaction

In an industry as dynamic as hospitality, the integration of technology and customer-centric strategies is crucial for staying ahead. At Olive by Embassy, Co-founder and CEO Kahraman Yigit is leading a transformative journey, leveraging advanced technology to redefine guest experiences and operational efficiency. As the world navigates the post-COVID landscape, Olive by Embassy stands out by blending traditional hospitality with innovative tech solutions, setting new standards for the industry.

  1. Vision and Innovation: Mr. Yigit, could you elaborate on Olive by Embassy’s vision to institutionalise the accommodation market in India and how you’re leveraging innovative tech solutions to achieve this?

Olive’s vision is to revolutionise the hospitality industry through innovation, technology, and service excellence, and our mission is to provide exceptional living experiences, blend hospitality with cutting-edge technology, and cater to the diverse needs of our guests.  

We work towards these goals through: 

  • Continuously Innovating: We regularly update our offerings and integrate the latest technologies.
  • Guest-Centric Approach: We focus on creating memorable and personalised experiences for our guests.
  • Strategic Expansion: We aim to expand our footprints in key markets to increase accessibility.
  • Sustainability Initiatives: We implement eco-friendly practices and promote sustainable living.

Olive is all about using technology to enhance operational efficiency and the guest experience. We are among the first companies in the world to have developed our own remote operational system in partnership with Staqu, Zoom, and Hotelogix. This also includes integrating advanced hotel management systems, implementing AI and IoT applications in property management, and making it easy to connect with our guests through digital platforms. These innovations are aimed at streamlining our operations and creating a more seamless living experience.

  1. Post-COVID Hospitality Trends: How has the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the hospitality industry in India, and what trends are Olive by Embassy capitalising on to thrive in the post-pandemic landscape?

In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation. As the world has embraced a new normal, the hospitality industry has been quick to adapt, responding to the evolving needs and expectations of travellers. The growing influence of business-leisure travellers, the rise of the digital era, hyper-personalisation, and sustainable practices have shaped the future of the industry in this new era. Some of the major trends that are redefining the hospitality sector are:

  • Focus on Hygiene and Sanitization: Hygiene and sanitization have emerged as top priorities for hospitality businesses.
  • Rise of Contactless Technology: Contactless technology has witnessed widespread adoption in the hospitality industry. Mobile check-ins, digital payments, and virtual concierge services have become commonplace, minimising physical contact.
  • Accelerated Digital Transformation: The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the hospitality sector. Hotels and restaurants have invested in online booking platforms, digital marketing strategies, and virtual experiences to cater to changing consumer preferences and behaviours.
  • Flexibility as a guiding principle: The shift towards flexible stays is being propelled by evolving traveller preferences and requirements. Modern travellers are in pursuit of distinctive and tailor-made encounters that transcend conventional hotel services.
  • Where work meets wanderlust: The rise of remote work-friendly stays that seamlessly blend the comforts of a home with the efficiency of an office reflects the hospitality industry’s commitment to catering to both professional needs and personal aspirations.
  • Sustainability is shifting from a trend to a responsibility: A growing consciousness of our impact on the planet has spurred a shift towards eco-friendly accommodations and practices. Hotels are embracing renewable energy, reducing waste, and involving local communities in their endeavours.
  • Hybrid hospitality: The concept of hybrid hospitality aims to provide guests with accommodations that go beyond traditional hospitality, creating versatile spaces that blend the comforts of home, the functionality of an office, and the services typically found in hotels. This amalgamation is a holistic philosophy that envisions an accommodation as more than just a transient abode.

In 2023, Olive expanded into the domains of hybrid hospitality and leisure, introducing four distinctive brands designed to meet the diverse needs of today’s travellers. As a hybrid product, we endeavour to bridge the gap between short-term and long-stay accommodations. This preserves the flexibility and simplicity of booking, similar to reserving a hotel room—no deposit and no questions asked. Each one of our rooms has been designed with the functionality of a long-stay unit; our customers can stay at Olive for a day, a month, or even a year. Most of our common areas are multipurpose as well, and guests have the option to use them according to their requirements, including as a workspace or to enjoy time with friends.

  1. Technology’s Role: Olive is credited with developing its own remote operational system. Can you discuss the inception of this technology and its impact on your operational efficiency and customer experience?

We have embraced our identity as a hospitality tech operating platform, integrating several technological features to elevate both the guest experience and operational efficiency. Some of our key tech integrations include:

  • Zoom Rooms Virtual Receptionist: This allows remote check-ins and interactions with guests across different properties. When guests enter a lobby, they can converse with a virtual receptionist via a Zoom kiosk. This receptionist, located onsite or remotely, processes payment and facilitates guest entry, often providing instructions for obtaining a physical key from on-site security or sending access codes over a WhatsApp chatbot or email for a contactless experience.
  • Digital Door Locks: We’re currently testing digital door locks on our properties, enhancing the contactless entry experience.
  • Video Analytics with Staqu’s JARVIS: We have onboarded Staqu’s AI-powered video analytics tool, JARVIS, to streamline operations. JARVIS integrates with existing CCTV systems to monitor compliance with SOPs, detect intrusions in real-time, manage crowds, and ensure cleanliness. This not only facilitates remote property management but also improves our situational awareness and operational efficiency.
  • AI-Enabled Note-Taker from Zoom: This is a feature that transcribes customer conversations and allows Olive to analyse feedback and continually upgrade services. This tool helps identify guest pain points and augment the overall guest experience.
  1. Growth and Performance: Without divulging sensitive information, could you share insights into the company’s growth percentage, ROI, and revenue, especially in the context of your technological advancements?

Under our current umbrella, Olive operates 52 properties (some under construction or re-furbishment) with 2,579 keys, translating into 5,158 beds at present. Within the next 12 months, we have a pipeline of 5,926 keys in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Goa, while exploring new markets. 

At present, our annual top-line revenue ranges from Rs 50 to 60 crore, with a projected revenue of approximately Rs 135 crore based on secured or signed business in the pipeline. Our target is to achieve Rs 500 crore of turnover across our portfolio with the launch of new and signed projects in the upcoming pipeline.

  1. Design Philosophy: Design plays a pivotal role at Olive by Embassy. How does the design aspect contribute to the overall guest experience, and what makes your properties stand out?

The Olive Design Studio aims at redefining the boundaries of hospitality design to keep up with the new age traveller. We strive to be at forefront of innovation, blending sustainability, culture and design technology to craft experiences that resonate with the end user. We, at Olive, try to champion well thought-out design that prioritizes guest comfort and ergonomics with emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility. Some of the key stand out features in our design are;

  • Visual impact & Brand Identity: Key design elements like impactful colour schemes, curated art & graphics, lighting, and accessories greatly influence the visual impact that an Olive space leaves. Consistent design features across the brand’s properties reinforces the brand’s ethos and help in creating a distinctive design signature.
  • Functional Design: At Olive, we emphasize on well-thought-out design that prioritizes guest comfort in room layouts, furniture selection, and amenities, directly impacting the quality of their stay. Spaces are usually planned to be informal, hassle free, accessible, and convenient to use.
  • Integration of locale and culture: We, at Olive, try and use local architectural influence, materials, and craftsmanship in our spaces as much as possible. Locally sourced design material and craftmanship is climate appropriate to the area of construction and gives any building a more authentic, regionally cohesive design approach which stand out.
  • User Experience & Tech integration: Clear signage and intuitive layout design help guests navigate spaces easily, reducing frustration and improving accessibility to facilities. Remote reception facilities, smart room features, seamless Wi-Fi connectivity, and integrated entertainment systems improve the user experience, adding convenience and customization options for guests.
  • Environmental & Social Responsibility through Design: Mindful design practices like planning for cross ventilation in spaces, recycling operational waste, discarding single use plastic, and repurposing construction material, furniture etc are some of the ways we try to minimise waste and do our bit for the planet.
  • Adaptability in design: Olive common spaces are designed in a way that can easily be adapted for various uses, such as meetings, events, or relaxation, which adds value to the guest’s experience. We aim at leveraging design to create unique, customizable experiences for guests that can significantly boost satisfaction and loyalty.
  1. Expansion Strategy: Looking ahead, what are Olive by Embassy’s expansion plans, and how do you intend to maintain your innovative edge in new markets?

Through our multi-brand approach, Olive caters to a wide range of travellers, from budget-conscious explorers to those seeking a luxurious experience. We are a versatile hospitality brand offering various tailored stay options, including: 

  • Olive Life: Our co-living solution is designed for the modern, mobile workforce and students.
  • Olive Zip: A budget hotel option that combines affordability with quality.
  • Olive Hotel: Catering to travellers seeking a blend of comfort and convenience.
  • Villa by Olive: Managed luxury villas offering an exclusive and upscale living experience.

Olive will foray into new markets such as Hyderabad and Pune within the year, while as part of our leisure push, we are keen on exploring opportunities in Chikkamagaluru, Sakleshpur, Kabini, and Kodagu in Karnataka, as well as locations across Rajasthan. We are also working towards our own four-star concept, which will be ready by next year.

We are targeting 1 lakh keys in the next 10 years and hope to increase our capacity by 4,500 keys in the next 12 months.

  1. The Future of Hospitality Technology: With advancements like AI integration and the virtual receptionist model, what future technologies do you see shaping the hospitality sector, and how is Olive by Embassy positioning itself at the forefront of this evolution?
Technology has played a crucial role in streamlining processes behind the scenes. Today, it is a vital enabler of positive guest experiences. From contactless check-ins and payments to the use of artificial intelligence, hotels and other hospitality establishments are embracing technology.
We are among the pioneers in developing our own remote operational system in partnerships with Staqu, Zoom, and Hotelogix. We have a remote receptionist, allowing guests to have a contactless check-in. AI tools are used with our CCTV surveillance; these tools raise alarms on sleeping security staff, weapon detection, overcrowding analysis, fire, and more. We also use AI to monitor the attendance of our staff. Overall, this significantly cuts down on the number of employees required to man the reception at our hotels, improving overall operational efficiency and reducing costs.
Under the leadership of Kahraman Yigit, Olive by Embassy is not just participating in the hospitality industry’s evolution; it is actively driving it. By embracing technological innovations and adapting to emerging market trends, Olive is setting new benchmarks for what it means to offer a memorable and safe hospitality experience. As the industry continues to evolve, Olive by Embassy’s commitment to combining technology with guest satisfaction is poised to influence widespread changes, promoting a more sustainable and guest-focused hospitality landscape.
Prittle Prattle News composed this article as an Interview.
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