Enseo’s Vanessa Ogle on Adapting and Innovating in Hospitality

Enseo Vanessa OgleFor the past two decades, Enseo, a technology services company that provides solutions for hospitality businesses and beyond, has focused on innovation to respond to the needs of both hoteliers and their guests. Most recently, Enseo launched a suite of health and safety products to help hotels, senior living communities, schools, and businesses adjust to new pandemic-era safety precautions. Vanessa Ogle, CEO and founder of Enseo, shares how the company has evolved over time, how it’s working with hotel partners through this challenging period, and the importance of industry-wide efforts like AHLA’s Safe Stay and Hospitality for Hope initiatives to recovery.

Can you give some background on your company?

Enseo is a technology services company at heart, always focused on innovation. Founded in 2000, Enseo designed and offered technology solutions for hospitality, retail, healthcare, cinemas, and even airplane seatback video. We even provided the core technology that became the first TV Guide channel in all 4,000-cable system headends nationwide.

In 2013, Enseo transformed its business from behind-the-curtain technology for the world’s leading system integrators into a new role as a full-service technology services and content provider. We used our purpose-built hospitality set-back box to deliver home-like experiences within hotels. Enseo was the first hospitality integrator to license Over-The-Top (OTT) apps including Netflix and HBO. The core Enseo technology platform has evolved to include in-room entertainment, high-speed internet, energy management and room control, Internet of Things with Fido, and MadeSafe, an associate safety system. Over the years, Enseo expanded to also serve senior living communities and education. Most recently, Enseo engineered and launched a suite of health and safety products to help hotels, senior living communities, schools, and businesses adjust to new COVID-19 safety precautions. Today, Enseo is one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country, listed on the Financial Times U.S. 500 and placed five times on the INC 5000.

What innovations have changed the way Enseo approaches its hospitality clients over the past few years?

Enseo has been investing in hospitality innovation for 21 years. Those investments have enabled us to anticipate and respond to the needs of both guests and hoteliers. The pandemic highlighted a new need for solutions that address communication and touchless technology and increased the speed with which brands have wanted to adopt these solutions. For instance, with Enseo’s Fido room control, guests can use their mobile device to control the TV, thermostat, and lights, and hoteliers can use the technology to lower operating costs of the room when unoccupied. The adoption of this energy-saving technology, which won the 2020 HTNG Innovation Award, was accelerated due to the incredible pressure for hotels to lower operating expenses. The ROI was good when hotels were highly occupied, but now that occupancy is lower, the ROI is impressively fast. Enseo’s touchless technology takes care of the entire guest journey—from checking into the hotel via VERA (Video Remote Virtual Agent) all the way to the guestroom for mobile control of in-room amenities, the television, and checkout.

How do you see the hotel industry evolving over the next five years?

The brands and properties that embrace innovation and are able to quickly adapt will rise to the top. Some groups have been able to adapt by announcing new partnerships and consolidating with other companies or industry organizations. Additionally, because of the financial challenges experienced by hoteliers in 2020 and 2021, we anticipate ownership consolidation as larger, well-capitalized companies buy out some of the beleaguered smaller owners.

One example of how the industry is adapting and innovation is a new effort under AHLA’s “Hospitality for Hope” initiative to link public health agencies and private sector partners in an effort to expand COVID-19 vaccine administration sites across the country. By mobilizing existing sites, hotels can help strengthen the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine at a time when the nation needs it most.

What prompted Enseo to get involved with AHLA?

AHLA is a tremendous partner in many initiatives that we as a company strongly support. Enseo is a woman-owned business and we have been well aligned with AHLA’s Forward program, pushing women forward in hospitality. With our MadeSafe employee tracking device and our focus on employee protection, Enseo has been thrilled to see AHLA’s 5-Star Promise make traction, and ultimately revolutionize standards for associate safety technology. Also focused on cleanliness and providing hotels with tools to better respond to COVID-19, like our touchless solutions, Enseo has supported Safe Stay and understands the importance of industry standards with regard to cleanliness as hospitality adjusts.

What is one thing about your company that you want AHLA members to know?

Enseo is here to help AHLA members in a whole new way. Yes, we can be here as a top-quality and affordable systems integrator for in-room technology such as entertainment, HSIA, IoT, and associate safety, but we are also here to assist the hotelier in all their technology needs. Enseo is making available our sister company, Catapult, and the world-class engineering and testing teams to provide custom engineering solutions, compatibility test suites, as well as technology customer service call centers.

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Adrienne Weil is vice president of strategic partnerships and business development at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Weil is responsible for the design and implementation of a comprehensive growth strategy to stimulate incremental growth in AHLA’s premier partner program.