Fresh from $48 million in funding announced in October 2020, Casai is pondering its technology development program for 2021.
For a company that sets out its stall on offering smart rentals - it’s name translates as smart home - it needs to ensure it’s getting the basics right.
That starts with high-speed Wi-Fi provision, according to Andres Paez Martinez, chief technology officer of Casai.
While most of us take for granted decent Wi-Fi these days, he says people still get surprises when traveling.
“This is anecdotal but we went to a bed & breakfast in San Miguel de Allende and the landlord said the Wi-Fi he offered was actually from the local Starbucks.”
That’s why Wi-Fi continues to be an investment priority for Casai and the company runs regular tests on its Wi-Fi to ensure guests are getting the best experience.
Other technology priorities for 2021 include investment in website design and user interface as well as “doubling down” on Casai smartlock, the company’s proprietary lock system.
“We’re expanding it to work with smartlocks in other locations. We work with one brand in Mexico City but as we move to other locations we might need to incorporate different brands.”
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These steps are part of Casai’s strategy to “go beyond and give a technology forward experience” compared with the smart TVs and Wi-Fi offered by most accommodation providers, says Paez.
“I think this is where the market is moving and people are not really investing in this area and they should.”
In addition to its Butler and smartlocks systems, Casai operates a warehouse and inventory management system in the background to track elements such as linen provision but also guest requests.
All of this is underpinned by a data science team and Paez says that most of the company’s decisions are data driven.
“To be able to do that you need a very good data science team because when you’re on the hustle, running every day from one place to the next, you don’t have time to log into the system. The data team helps us format the data and concentrate all of it so we can look at top level KPIs.”
But, too much technology is not a good thing especially when perhaps guests want to experience a location and, where they stay, just needs to be clean and comfortable.
Paez says Casai tracks metrics on whether guests use to the keypad or mobile app to open doors and that the engagement with the technology is good.
“There are two things you need to get right in technology and hospitality. One is access and the other is wifi. If you get those two you’re probably 80% of the way there”
He also says there are “natural constraints” in terms of the cost of technology investment but Casai continues to explore technology and weight up the cost versus what it will add to the guest experience.
Looking ahead, Paez agrees that touchless technology is here to stay and that the pandemic has accelerated digitilization in hospitality.
He also sees wireless charging gaining traction going forward pointing to Xiaomi’s recent Air Charge announcement for powering devices.
“It’s not ideal to have cables all over the place and there’s huge waste with batteries. There’s a big push in microwave charging and we want to do that at Casai as well and we have projects in development.”
He adds that hospitality companies will be prioritizing their technology spend in increasing their digital presence this year through websites as well as connecting their inventory to other channels.
“A lot of people don’t see it but connecting listings to other channels is as trivial as it could be so I think a lot of hospitality and accommodation companies need to improve on that.”