Operto eyes bringing its electronic check-in and check-out experience to more hotels.
Proptech startup Operto Guest Technologies has raised $34.4 million CAD ($25 million USD) to expand in the global short-term rental and hotel markets.
Operto provides property automation and Internet of Things operating system software for the hotel, multi-family, vacation and short-term rental industries designed to manage the check-in and check-out process for hotel guests. This includes allowing guests to use their phones rather than key cards to unlock rooms.
“We’re able to provide that digital guest journey that they’re looking for, [and] guests are now demanding.”– Steve Davis, Operto
By providing property managers with real-time data and insights, Operto claims that it can streamline operations, reduce costs ,and enhance the guest experience.
Centana Growth Partners led the Series B financing round with participation from Thayer Ventures, FUSE, Blackpines Capital Partners, and Derive Ventures. The round closed on March 16.
Operto CEO Steve Davis told BetaKit that the startup’s name is the Italian verb “to open,” noting that Operto’s primary business has always been opening doors. He said the startup ended up building an ecosystem around the idea. “If you think about it, what is the most important moment of that guest journey,” he asked rhetorically.
“It’s the moment when you hold your phone up to the door and you hear the latch open, you can start your vacation,” Davis said. “You can put your bags down. You can go to the pool and it’s that magic moment and the door opens and my card hasn’t demagnetized in my pocket or whatever. We’ve built our business around access control and it’s really flourished from there.”
Eric Byunn, co-founder and partner at Centana Growth Partners, argued that Operto is leading the digital transformation of the hospitality industry with its “seamless” automated check-in and check-out experience for its customers.
“Centana has been following the digitization of the hospitality industry closely, and this sort of disruption to the traditional ways of doing business is exactly what we look for in a partner,” Byunn said. “We plan to leverage our team’s expertise in the payments and commerce ecosystem and work alongside Operto as they continue to innovate in an industry that has enormous potential.”
Operto’s automated, customizable platform enables hotels, property managers, and others to remotely provide access as well as monitor and control a wide range of devices and systems, including smartphone-enabled guest verification, security deposit and payment, electronic elevator and room access.
The proptech works exclusively with Accor Hotels and its global digital key program. This includes luxury hotel brands, such Fairmont and Raffles, where Operto’s contactless digital solutions can be used to remove common friction points in the guest journey. Operto claimed this lowers operating costs and drives new sources of revenue for the hotel.
But while Operto attributes its success in part to the exclusivity of working with Accor as a partner, the startup now hopes to access an entire new tier of operators, Airbnb among them. Eyeing the market, Davis declared: “The hospitality space in general is deep as the ocean is wide. Absolutely that is a door that could open.”
Sam Shank, previously the CEO and founder of HotelTonight and former head of Airbnb’s commercial team, joins Operto’s board of directors as part of the Series B round.
Davis called Shank a “household name” in the hotel space. Shank sold HotelTonight to Airbnb in 2019 in a deal estimated to be worth more than $400 million, according to CNBC, becoming the head of commercial for Airbnb in the process. Davis said Shank will help Operto as it moves from a startup to a scaleup, and to a more mature company.
“Sam has been through all of those various stages in his career and he brings such a breadth of knowledge and a depth of understanding around not only how you build tech for maximum impact, how the short-term rental market works, the nuances; the hotel market and the nuances of that,” Davis said.
“Because Operto plays across so many different verticals in the accommodation space, having a board member that really understands all of it in such a meaningful way is going to be very helpful for our young company as we continue to scale.”
“Hotels right now, especially coming out of COVID, they’re still trying to get back on their feet.”
Bolstering its services, Operto acquired the Spanish business STAYmyway in November 2022 for an undisclosed amount. Founded in 2013, STAYmyway specializes in a mobile key solution for hotels and vacation rental properties. STAYmyway’s 20 member team has been integrated into Orpeto, bringing the staff count of the startup to some 140 employees.
STAYmyway developed and patented software and hardware solutions for the hotel sector that allow for the upgrading of existing locks and converts them into smart locks with Bluetooth technology without the need to change them. The startup claims that this solution provides cost savings for the hotel by digitizing this process and is a more durable solution as it extends the life cycle of the locks.
Davis claims STAYmyway’s proprietary technology saves hotel owner-operators up to 90 percent of the cost without having to replace any of the hardware inside the hotel, while allowing them “to sort of turn their hotel from a typewriter into a laptop at literally one-tenth of the price.”
“Hotels right now, especially coming out of COVID, they’re still trying to get back on their feet,” Davis noted. “We’re able to provide that digital guest journey that they’re looking for, [and] guests are now demanding. We’re able to do it efficiently, at a price that’s very competitive and we’re able to help them scale like they want to.”
Operto expects to reach 175 staff by year-end. Founded in 2016, during which time the startup was “getting its bumps and bruises,” according to Davis, Operto raised $15.3 million CAD in Series A funding in 2022. The latest round brings Operto’s total capital raised to about $54 million CAD.
Operto’s Series A round follows a year of growth for the startup, which also acquired Washington-based vacation rental software provider VRScheduler in 2021, and has since been rebranded as Operto Teams.
Whether Operto hits its staff targets depends on the startup’s current trajectory, and whether it does additional fundraising. “But for us, we’re positioning ourselves as Vancouver’s next unicorn,” Davis said. “I know that’s a huge statement, but I know we’re on the path to be it.”