• Kyodo


Major travel agency JTB Corp. has started selling a system to lodging facilities in Japan that allows their guests to chat with staff using their own smartphones in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through the reduction of face-to-face contact.

The system, Kotozna In-room — jointly developed with Kotozna Inc., a multilingual chat service provider based in Tokyo — can translate 109 languages, enabling smooth communication with foreign guests in their mother tongues.

Although some lodging facilities use tablets installed in guest rooms for communication, the new system, put on sale Oct. 1, can further alleviate the fear of infections as guests can use their own smartphones and don’t need to touch a shared device, noted a JTB spokesperson.

Once guests at accommodations scan a QR code for the service via their smartphones, they can chat with lodging staff from anywhere in the facility without downloading an application.

The prolonged pandemic has battered the tourism industry. The government has launched the Go To Travel campaign to help revive domestic travel demand and the industry is hoping to attract tourists while taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Even after restrictions on the entry of foreign tourists to Japan are lifted, the system is expected to be useful in serving foreign guests as notes typed by them in their mother tongues will be automatically translated into Japanese for display on lodging staff terminals.

The system is also expected to help streamline operations at lodging facilities. Some simple questions can be answered automatically by artificial intelligence, enabling staff to do other work.

To introduce the service, lodging facilities pay JTB a minimum of ¥253,000, depending on the size of the facility, with a monthly fee of a few hundred yen per room added.

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