“A major inflection point in this industry’s history”: Steve Davis, Operto
ShortTermRentalz speaks to Steve Davis, the newly-announced CEO of property automation system Operto Guest Technologies, about his reasons for joining the company, the latest trends in technology and guest experience, and plans for 2021.
- Please introduce yourself, the Operto brand and the role it plays in the short-term rental ecosystem.
“Thanks for the opportunity, Paul. I’m the recently appointed CEO of Operto Guest Technologies, based in Vancouver, Canada. At our core, we’re a smart device management platform that automates the short-term rental experience for owners, guests and ancillary third party service providers. This allows the entire ecosystem to run smoothly, drive revenue and help deliver a world class experience on all sides.”
- You’ve recently taken over the reins at Operto, as CEO. Why are you excited to join the company at this time after such a shift has taken place in global business and the hospitality industry in particular?
“The hospitality industry is sitting on the verge of a major, major inflection point in its history, and it’s driven by technology. While the timing of this change has likely been brought forward by Covid-19, it doesn’t alter the fact that we’re about to see a seismic shift in guest behaviour as it relates to the wider guest experience, and this will be led by new technologies. As a 20-years-plus veteran of the technology sector, I’ve been lucky to be involved in some of these technology ‘waves’ before.”
- In your new role, you will have to navigate the many challenges which have been presented by Covid-19. Given your experience in previous positions at Apple and Slalom Capital, to name a couple, what business strategies will you be employing to ensure that Operto is in the best shape possible going into the new year?
“I’ve been on the job about six weeks now, and it’s been great to get an overview of Operto, understand our value proposition and get excited about the connected SaaS solution we offer. I’ve really doubled down on building out world-class technology and product teams, a customer success group which goes above and beyond and a sales team which covers all geographies, all time zones and in multiple languages. Those are the key pillars of our business.
“I believe that our existing partnerships with all major PMSs, and IoT hardware providers, will continue to strengthen and I’ve focused our resources on the critical business pieces that will drive major growth in 2021 and beyond. Operto is in great shape and looking forward to the future.”
- A trend is emerging whereby the adoption of tech in hospitality has been sped up by the pandemic — how do you plan to capitalise on this change and will you be looking to branch out into other areas as a result?
“At our core, we provide some incredibly innovative technology solutions, using a SaaS model, to a traditionally non ‘tech-forward’ sector. Ironically, Covid-19 has hugely benefited us as a company, because these crucial technology conversations are now happening, across the entire short-term rental market globally. Critical conversations are leading to buying decisions.
“Technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but an absolute imperative for any business looking to stay relevant and competitive. Digitally native consumers are putting the industry on notice, and those who shift to this new paradigm will undoubtedly thrive.
“Moreover, the demand we’re currently seeing for a frictionless guest experience through technologies such as ours, is just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. As a company, we believe that building beautiful, elegant and powerful software to connect guests, owners and third party ancillary services, is where we can carve out our most powerful niche.”
- Do you see SaaS tech developing as a crucial part of the operational ecosystem and how might this impact positively on the overall guest experience?
“SaaS is eating the world… industry by industry. I’ve seen it, and I’ve lived it first hand for the past 15-plus years. At this point, it’s not a question of if, but when, SaaS becomes the chosen model for the global short-term rental operational ecosystem.
“The opportunity for huge, fundamental disruption is simply too massive in the market to keep tech savvy entrepreneurs away at this point. I think it’s a super exciting space to be in.
“In terms of guest experience, the SaaS model will ensure a continuously improving, customer-led, shift to technology adoption. The guest stands to benefit immensely.
“The companies who figure out how to deliver the ultimate guest experience, through seamless technology, will win. This is why we’re investing so heavily now in this changing customer-centric landscape.”
- What innovative SaaS solutions will Operto be offering in 2021 to further develop the brand of Operto? Why do we need a more joined-up, connected approach to tech going forwards?
“Watch this space! We will have some big announcements to share in the coming weeks. What I can tell you though, is that Operto will be making headway into more vertical channels other than the ones it’s traditionally known for. We’re building software solutions to surprise and delight the short-term rental ecosystem… whether you’re a guest, an owner or property manager, or you provide services. Simple, powerful, delightful technology. That’s what Operto is all about.
“This industry is demanding a more joined-up approach to tech, and had been even pre-pandemic, as professionals reassess operational processes and the whole guest experience. Tech can, and should, play a huge role in simplifying the pain points experienced by companies in this ecosystem and those of the guests they serve.”
- If you could predict the future for Operto and its team, what would it look like in five years’ time? Where would Operto sit in the tech ecosystem and the wider sphere of hospitality?
“In five years’ time, our audacious goal is to be the de facto operating system for the short-term rental market. If you connect value into the ecosystem, you connect it through Operto. Whether you are on the software or hardware side, Operto will seamlessly connect to your business.
“We’ve already made some huge inroads into this broader vision, but the road is long, and the sector as you know is evolving rapidly. My job as CEO is to constantly survey the industry landscape 24–36 months ahead of today, and ensure that our technology continually adds measurable, impactful value to both our existing clients, and the ones we will have in the future.”
Steve Davis is the CEO at Operto Guest Technologies, a property automation system that provides intelligent control of smart home/IoT devices at scale. Operto improves guest experience and operational efficiency for hotels, vacation rentals and serviced apartments. Prior to Operto, Davis has worked as a technology executive across a wide array of global businesses.