CHICAGO—Bounte Inc. has launched Bounte Protect, a cloud-based lost and found solution for hotels. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Bounte Protect limits touch, a major boon in today’s health-conscious environment.
“COVID-19 brought an unprecedented need for hotels to develop new, safe and clean policies and procedures to protect staff and guests,” said Stephen Sinclair, founder/CEO, Bounte. “The severity of this pandemic forced hotels to develop solutions that weren’t even on the radar. As hotels addressed major front office issues and safe and clean protocol overhauls, we at Bounte wanted to do our part to contribute a low-touch solution.”
To operate, hotels use a sealable, barcoded Bounte bag integrated with an app. Sinclair explained that the individualized barcode allows hotels to safely collect, secure, store and return lost and found items to guests. “Clean and safe protocols are mission-critical for hotels to survive, and leveraging the Bounte Protect bags and technology platform together provides a solution to the lost and found challenges at all hotels,” he said.
Here’s how it works: a hotel employee takes a photo of the lost item and the Bounte app’s AI identifies the image. The app then adds it to the hotel’s digital lost and found and auto-tags with detailed descriptors (about 20 keywords) and a GPS map pinpoints the location where the item was found. The employee then places the item in the bag, seals it and uses the Bounte app to scan the bag’s barcode for tracking.
Then, an integrated shipping return wizard automates the shipping label procedure for the guest with a purchasing process. A shipping request link is sent to guests who select from multiple shipping options to purchase a label. The hotel is then notified, prints the label and ships the item.
“The existing lost and found functions within PMS systems that operate everything from the hotel’s reservations to housekeeping schedules provide little in the area of lost and found technical innovation,” Sinclair said. “They have minimal information and lack mobile, web and AI technologies needed all under one simple-to-use solution. Digital lost and found competitors currently on the market require staff to do a lot of typing to enter data into the system. In contrast, Bounte’s automatic AI recognition technology will enter most of that automatically. It works like magic when you enter items within a few seconds.”
Sinclair added that Bounte’s mobile app supports text messaging to notify staff instantly when items are found or reported missing.
“Compare that to others’ systems that use email—an older and less responsive means—to accomplish this,” Sinclair noted. “Bounte’s technology architecture enabled it to develop Bounte bags in less than a month, something others have yet to produce.”
According to the CEO, hotels will typically collect 10 items per occupied room each year, a number that is higher for large hotels and resorts due to the common areas and convention and ballroom spaces.
“Hotels must keep a record of each item found and make careful judgment calls on how to store, dispose or donate these items,” Sinclair said. “Manually collecting, entering and returning these items with an antiquated system can cost the hotel tens of thousands of dollars annually. Hotels can expect to collect everything from wallets, phones and charger cables to eyeglasses. One hotel recently found a drone on its rooftop.”