The decade of transformation and growth of the Shiji Group – Hotel-Online
Shiji | February 10, 2020
By Kevin King
Over the past decade, the Shiji Group has experienced a period of significant growth and expansion, moving from a China-based network systems supply company to a truly global conglomerate pushing the boundaries of hotel technology.
Shiji started as an original idea of â€‹â€‹Li Zhongchu. Like many innovative tech brands, Li founded Shiji in his Beijing apartment in 1998, impressing his first customers with his dedication to service and the quality of letters from his new fax machine. Almost immediately, Shiji began to develop rapidly, quickly becoming the leading supplier of hotel technology in China. In 2014, we captured nearly 70% of China’s premium hotel and retail technology market in China, achieving over $ 314 million in sales. This number would increase by 40% in just four years. This gave us an opportunity to grow globally, while fundamentally re-imagining our relationship with technology and the hospitality market.
Today, Shiji Group is one of the world’s leading technology innovators, providing an integrated suite of technology platforms to help connect the hospitality, retail, food and beverage industries. entertainment. Over the past decade, Shiji has grown into a truly global technology provider, serving more than 74,000 hotels, 200,000 restaurants and 600,000 outlets in 177 countries and 15,000 cities outside of China. And our company is as diverse as our markets, with more than 4,000 employees in 80 subsidiaries and 70 offices around the world, speaking a total of 41 languages.
For us, â€œmoving to the cloud, to data and to internationalâ€ represented the future of Shiji and the international hospitality industry.
In 2016, we were completely transformed into a global consumer service platform operator. For us, â€œmoving to the cloud, to data and to internationalâ€ represented the future of Shiji and the international hospitality industry. We have developed a fully integrated ecosystem of technology solutions, so that we can connect the global hospitality business to their systems, their distribution channels and, most importantly, their customers. By 2020, Shiji was fully integrated with all major travel destinations and hospitality markets around the world, with 57% of hotels in the United States, more than half of hotels in London and Paris, 42% of hotels in Melbourne and over a third of hotels in Singapore using Shiji Technology.
But we didn’t want to rush into a transformation of this magnitude. We wanted to globalize carefully and conscientiously, maximizing our advantage in international markets. We’ve taken the time to look at emerging technology trends, listen to bottlenecks and challenges affecting the market and our customers, and educate ourselves on the needs of the traveling consumer. With these needs in mind, we acquired companies like IcePortal and ReviewPro, which could enhance a traveler’s experience at every stage of the customer’s journey, from inspiration to after-stay. These businesses have grown tremendously thanks to Shiji’s resources and guidance: Today, IcePortal manages over 1.7 million unique visual assets, while ReviewPro processes over 516 million online reviews per day, improving considerable reputation and customer experience for its base of 55,000 properties.
We found that Shiji could provide solutions to several interrelated challenges facing the hospitality market: First, we could better connect businesses to their own technology systems. Hotels face enormous friction when building a technology stack: if their data remains siled across platforms, it can exacerbate operational inefficiencies, hamper the streamlining and personalization of the guest journey, as well as their ability to evolve. Thus, we have developed a network of technological solutions favoring connectivity and an open API architecture. StayNTouch, MyCheck and Infrasys have already taken this forward-thinking approach, while other brands such as Concept are currently using Shiji’s resources and expertise to move to the openly connected framework.
We have also connected hospitality companies to the global payment and distribution network. We wanted to give globally expanding brands the partnerships they need to enter China and Asia-Pacific, while providing technology solutions that make it easy for them to comply with emerging financial transaction regulations. Likewise, we have used this technology to better connect customers to their data, ensuring that their financial and personal information is not plagued by growing threats of identity theft and fraud. With our acquisition of Touchpeak and MyCheck, our integrated payment solutions not only comply with upcoming standards and regulations including PCI DSS, GDPR and PSD2, but are also compatible with all traditional and disruptive payment gateways available on the market. Today, MyCheck manages over 85,000 users and 30,000 financial transactions per day and is growing faster than ever.
57% of American hotels, more than half of hotels in London and Paris, 42% of hotels in Melbourne use Shiji technology
Ultimately, we wanted to create a suite of technology platforms that push the boundaries of customer experience. From building mobile PMS and POS systems, to implementing mobile messaging during the stay, to creating a unified guest profile, we offer hotel brands solutions that reinvent the guest journey. Our platforms help businesses streamline their operations and communications, so staff can spend less time focusing on administrative tasks and more time focusing on what they do best – serving customers.
By the middle of the decade, the rise of mobility fundamentally changed the face of the hospitality industry and we were excited about the growing possibilities for innovation. The mobile allows hoteliers to come out from behind the reception to interact with customers wherever they are. Li once remarked that â€œpeople will disappear from the front desk,â€ and Shiji was determined to be at the forefront in shaping this new customer experience.
To implement our vision, we began investing in companies that were pushing the boundaries of innovation and hiring talent who had a deep understanding of the needs of the hospitality industry. We asked: What solutions could be developed from scratch, and how might we partner with industry leaders to create an ecosystem conducive to innovation?
The mobile allows hoteliers to come out from behind the reception to interact with customers wherever they are.
With StayNTouch, we invested in a mobile PMS system that was already at the forefront of self-check-in for customers. With additional resources, we have propelled their development efforts to bring to market a revolutionary mobile identity verification system using advanced AI technology. The result of approximately eight months of in-house development was a mobile registration system that was both more secure. and more convenient than its predecessors, and a PMS that was literally the first on the market to accept self-service reservations through a self-service kiosk.
We have also spearheaded other innovations: working closely with MyCheck, we have developed several applications to help properties fight fraud and comply with recent PSD2 regulations. These include MyCheck PayBy, a customer payment request app that can be fully integrated with your PMS, and the MyCheck Wallet, a fully-branded digital wallet providing customers with a seamless booking and loyalty journey that ends with one payment. with one click. Our product development teams at ReviewPro are also pushing the boundaries of applied artificial intelligence, developing a guest chatbot that’s pre-seeded with answers to common guest questions automatically from review sites and social media. , a first on the market.
In the end, our approach to global expansion paid off. Because we have taken the time to watch, listen and learn more about the needs and challenges of the global hospitality market, we have been able to offer timely solutions to the friction points of the connectivity, distribution and data security, while offering new approaches to reinvent the customer experience. And because of our proactivity and commitment to innovation, the market has welcomed us with open arms.
When we made our debut at ITB Berlin and HITEC Minneapolis in 2019, we received a warm welcome, as hundreds of industry professionals came to visit our booths and learn more about the solutions Shiji has to offer. Likewise, we have received a solid readership and engagement with our sponsorship of the Hotel Directory 2020 and our newly released GX: Spotlight on the customer experience series. All this attention confirms our first thoughts on leaving China: that the hotel market is thirsty for connectivity and innovation.
But of course the only constant in life is change and hopefully the better. We remain committed to being at the forefront of technology and look forward to collaborating with our customers, partners and innovative brands around the world, to solve more challenges over the next decade and beyond.
In conclusion, we have spent the last decade vigorously moving to the cloud, data and globalization. We are proud to say that the trip so far has been extremely successful and the thousands of Shiji employees who have made this possible have been nothing short of amazing. Global growth at this level is not easy, but it is truly exciting to be at the forefront of technological innovations that will lead the hospitality industry over the next decade.