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04/05/2021

How One SaaS Company is Leading the Industry to Contactless, Guest-Centric Transactions

Virdee, whose name is a play on VRD, saw an urgent need for solutions to help hotels achieve operational efficiencies and cost savings in a contactless environment. Its growing popularity shows the hospitality industry has taken note.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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In the last six months, Virdee, a SaaS company serving the lodging, multifamily and commercial real estate industries, has gained quite a bit of traction in the hospitality space. Virdee helps building owners reduce costs and generate ancillary revenue by automating front-of-house workflows via its mobile application and in-lobby experiences. Using an API-first approach, Virdee connects platforms for ID verification, payment collection, access control and remote support.

Recently, it has partnered with industry players such as Shift4 Payments to facilitate contactless payments, SALTO Systems for contactless arrival and entry solutions, and Infor to deliver a virtual reception program to hotels that are short-staffed. To learn more about this solution provider, Hospitality Technology spoke to Branigan Mulchay and Nadav Cornberg, co-Founders of Virdee.

Where did the idea of Virdee come from?

We started Virdee with the vision to help hoteliers offer a Virtual Reception Desk to their guests by automating check-in, ID verification and payments. Our name is a play on the acronym VRD.

In these times of disruptive change and shifting models of guest service and operation, we saw a need to provide a new standard and lead the industry toward the adoption of contactless, guest-centric transactions to reduce costs, increase margins and boost profitability.

The costs of staffing a 24/7 operation are becoming increasingly challenging for many hotels, with many being forced to do more with less. Our system can ameliorate staffing needs during both peak and low-demand hours of the day. Also, the impact of fraud and charge backs is often 2 – 5% of revenue for many hotels, and the security of our platform can reduce those losses dramatically.

It was clear that there is an urgent need for solutions to help hotels achieve operational efficiencies and cost savings in a contactless environment.  The race for such solutions was identified as the top priority for the global hotel industry throughout 2020.

By providing a solution that would reduce owners’ labor costs while elevating the guest experience through the automation of a clients’ front-of-house workflow, we have proven through initial customer installs that our solution saves staff time and reduces friction around the check-in/out process for guests. In fact, our customers have already reported that the Virdee solution is one of the only complete solutions for frictionless, contactless check in – serving 100% of guests 100% of the time, simply and cost-effectively, independent of guest loyalty status or affiliation.

How integral is your API-integration strategy to your business?

Many hotel brands are exploring building a contactless check-in solution to offer to their franchise partners. Often what slows down or delays the process is the significant time and resources required from in-house teams to build and maintain integrations with all the systems to support the solution.

Our API-integration pipeline is critical to our business growth – and at the same time, indicative of the way in which the hotel ecosystem is converging on the Cloud as a way to make hotel operations more seamless and efficient – and the guest experience even better. Our strategy is to integrate with the largest PMS, lock and payment vendors so we can support the greatest number of hotels, and deploy our solution easily and quickly. For example, two of the first PMS platforms that we integrated with were Opera and InforHMS; and the first few lock providers we supported were SALTO, Assa Abloy and Dormakaba – all of which are ubiquitous throughout the lodging industry.

We offer flexibility as well, with both keyless and kiosk-check in availability at the hotelier’s option. Also, for customers who use a supported tech stack (e.g. Opera + SALTO + Shift4), we can go live at their property in a matter of days due to the efficiency of our onboarding process and the way we maintain our integrations.

We’re excited to have made a number of important integration partnership announcements and expect even more in the weeks ahead.

How have some of your recent wins shown where the industry is headed (tech-wise)?

The future is all about guest ease, comfort and operational efficiency, across assets classes.

Every guest-facing commercial structure welcomes guests and checks them in. In the current environment, contactless check-in is paramount. All asset classes also need to integrate ID verification and payment collection quickly, seamlessly and in the context of service excellence.

We recently announced a partnership with Reside Worldwide, a global provider of alternative and corporate accommodations. We found their needs to be not all that distinct from the needs of operators at hotels at which our system has also been installed. Indeed, a boutique hotel in Mountain View California that was an early adopter of Virdee found our contactless solutions especially compelling for its forward-looking technology clientele – providing not only operational benefits but guest-facing ones as well.

We believe we are both being buoyed forward by industry trends and helping lead them – and are encouraged by the rapid adoption we are seeing in multiple real estate verticals, including hotels.

What are your future integration plans?

We have a long list of integrations currently being implemented and will soon be announced. From the leading door lock manufacturers to major PMS providers, we are working with the major brands in the industry to ensure our customers, current and future, can provide a seamless, end-to-end contactless experience by integrating with names they know and trust.

The names of these companies are familiar to your readers and include HotelKey, Mews, Square, Elavon, Miwa, Onity and Hafele.

We are excited and honored to be partnering with the leading names in the industry.

If you could give hoteliers one piece of tech advice, what would it be?

We’re learning and listening as we go and realize that the industry has gone through significant challenges, and there are thousands of hoteliers who bring distinctive expertise to their work every day.

One piece of  advice we could give is to be flexible, open to innovations that a new generation of tech providers bring to the table. There are new models of guest service and operations that are making it possible for hotels take care of their guests better than ever before.

The right combination of new solutions that focus on improved guest experience - including automatable functions previously handled by front line staff - can produce a better, more enjoyable stay, leading to a higher Net Promoter Score . . . and saving time and money at the same time!

If you could give other hotel tech solution providers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Embrace the change, and lead it too.

Consumers have long demanded more streamlined, cost-effective tech-enabled solutions to make their experiences better.

Our industry has seen a steady movement in the direction of disruptive innovation, beginning as far back as the launch of industry-wide traveler reservations systems; the prevalence of online representation of inventory; the rise of socially curated content, ratings and comparison engines; culminating in real-time insights on availability, dynamic pricing of hotel availability and the ascendancy of sharing-economy, peer-to-peer lodging services.

We believe hotel operations is primed for a similar level of disruption.

Long lead times for integrations and expensive, “heavy” technology are no longer options. Building on open-API platforms that reduce costs by integrating pieces of the tech stack quickly and cheaply, is the  only way forward. Not only hotel operators, but owners, brand leaders and investors have come to see this kind of innovation as a “must-have.”

We’re proud to be helping lead that movement into the future.