Longtime hospitality professional Raj Trivedi, who was CEO of La Quinta, says he is not quick to commit in general, and never imagined he’d become involved with a technology product in any event. However, as he told LODGING, between higher costs and eroding hotel margins, customer demand for tech-enabled conveniences, and the current public health focus on minimizing contact, he was intrigued by the opportunity to team up with the founders of Virdee, a SaaS company providing a contactless, customer-centric product designed to help elevate the guest experience while reducing cost and boosting profitability. The now chairman of that enterprise describes how The Virdee Concierge, an end-to-end, seamless API-first solution, meets the needs of hospitality with tech-enabled, touch-less visitor check-ins and authentication.
How and why did you decide to become involved with Virdee?
As they say, in life, most good things come when you least expect them, and that’s exactly what happened in this case. Although I personally had never thought that I would invest in any kind of technology startup, one thing I had always been willing to invest in was people. So, after checking out the product as well as Virdee founders Branigan Mulcahy and Nadav Cornberg themselves, I was open to the concept behind their SaaS company, and attracted to the product overall because it’s so complete.
In affiliating with the Virdee brand, I believe I am protecting the best interests of any hotel brand by providing them the data and enhanced services they desire, and I am protecting my franchise partners by reducing the cost and giving them an avenue that provides continuity, consistency, and deliverables they can offer to the guest on a nonstop basis.
What criteria did you use to evaluate the product?
Even before COVID, our margins were eroding mainly because labor and other costs, including materials, were increasing. Our industry looked to technology to improve our margins, but the dilemma was finding solutions that did not compromise the customer experience and would apply to 100 percent of guests. The bottom line was that it needed to provide an exceptional guest experience and cost savings to the property in a way that would continue to be helpful long-term.
How do these products provide benefits to both guests and properties?
In terms of improving the guest experience, they provide the kind of technology that is already being implemented in other industries and is familiar to guests to provide faster, more convenient service. So, check-in that might otherwise take five to seven minutes and require standing in line—something to be avoided if possible during the continuing pandemic—can be completed using a smart phone or in-lobby device to verify their identity and provide a form of payment.
Further, the system improves the guest experience while also providing revenue for the property. It gives guests the ability to easily order food or services that will increase their spend.
Another significant benefit to owners and operators is the ability to gather data during identification verification as well as throughout the guest stay. Also, because this applies to all guests, not just loyalty program members, properties collect data on everyone who comes to the facility.
Finally, there are benefits for both the hotel and guests—except for the unscrupulous ones—due to the ID verification process itself, which captures the guest’s picture and information, to prevent fraudulent charge backs and enable tracing and background checks.
What kind of customer service and back-up are available to users?
Users who encounter problems have an avenue by which to connect with someone who will never be absent or delayed due to traffic or illness, even if the electricity or internet connection fails. They need only to click on their screen to have a video conference with someone assigned to the property to provide assistance. What’s more, in the case of a power outage, the technology will continue to function and dispense keys at the property level until connectivity is restored.