The tourism sector suffered devastating losses last year as border restrictions and public health measures kept travellers sticking close to home for the most part. A recent study from Hellosafe.ca went so far as to estimate $52 billion in losses for Canadian tourism in 2021 compared with two years earlier.
But with restrictions already easing in many parts of the globe, Vancouver-based property technology firm Operto Guest Technologies Inc. is banking on a big rebound.
So much so that it revealed Tuesday the close of a US$12-million Series A funding round aimed expanding its proptech platform for hoteliers, their guests and managers of short-term rental properties.
“Coming out of COVID, it’s such as exciting time. We’ve never seen wind at our backs like this before,” CEO Steve David told BIV.
The company, which currently numbers 50 employees, is set to open an office in Barcelona next month in anticipation of the busy spring and summer season.
Operto has developed a consumer-facing and business-facing platform aimed at better managing guests’ needs with hotel operations.
A front-desk clerk might usually have multiple screens or tabs open to manage everything from check-ins to requests for room service. Meanwhile, guests have traditionally relied on physically picking up their keycards, manually adjusting their room’s thermostat or calling down to the front for help booking golf clubs.
“Operto is the consolidating operating system that brings everything together so that the operational control of the property and the efficiency with which they can serve their guests goes up,” Davis said.
“At the same time the guest is able to interact with the property through tools, whether it's ordering things to their room, whether it's interacting with the housekeeping to do an extra clean, or leave extra soap and towels in their room.”
Guests can also use the app to check-in and secure a Bluetooth key for the room without having to visit the front desk, while also managing their room’s temperature without having to touch surfaces in an unfamiliar setting.
“As people sort of dust off their passports, and head off to the airport and start to explore the world again, we're going to see there's a certain level of consumer expectation around technology,” Davis said.
“We do control our lives off of our smartphones and so why would it be any different when I go on vacation? Why wouldn't I have my key on my phone? Why wouldn't I be able to talk to the housekeeper through my phone or to interact with the property owner through my phone?”
Davis said Operto has built a strong client base in the U.S. and is already offering its services to customers across the globe. The fresh capital will be aimed at further expansion in Europe, hence the opening of the new Barcelona office, and development of its SaaS platform.
The funding round was led by Seattle-based venture capital firm Fuse, with follow-on investments from Watchfire Venturers, BlackPines Capital Partners and a mix of other investors.