A system for identifying people and controlling access developed by a Brazilian startup lets guests check in remotely and open room doors using smartphones (photo: Addvance)

Technological platform facilitates digitization of hotels

24 de agosto de 2021

By Eduardo Geraque  |  FAPESP Innovative R&D – Brazilian startup Addvance has developed a system for identifying people and controlling access that can reduce operating costs and automate management of hotels and other hospitality units.

The system can be used by guests to check in remotely. A guest’s smartphone can serve as a key, so that on arriving they simply go to their room and open the door using the app or a Bluetooth connection to the smart lock. Room entry is also possible by password or facial recognition.

The firm received funding from the FAPESP Innovative Research in Small Business Program (PIPE) to develop the system, which can also be used at the entrance and reception, and in underground parking spaces and elevators, avoiding the need for receptionists and giving guests complete independence.

“We can say we have a world innovation. A technology that makes hotels, mainly small and medium ones, but not only those, more competitive, since the workforce drives up the fixed cost of the business,” says Rony Stefano, one of Addvance’s partners.

“Our main advantage derives from combining several systems in the same platform and offering a single unified solution. We have both the software and the hardware,” says engineer Felipe Pirotta, another partner.

Besides the digital platform, the innovation also includes the fabrication of smart locks, which takes place in Brazil at a lower cost, although some inputs are imported.

Change of focus

In 2015, when the firm began, it focused on information security and development of corporate access control technology, with mobile devices as the main access credentials but also using swipe cards and facial recognition. In 2018, however, when Stefano joined the firm, it decided on a pivot to the hotel segment.

“We developed the system entirely in the cloud from scratch, which also facilitates maintenance processes. We currently have a presence in 13 Brazilian states. We’re able to do a lot remotely,” says Guilherme Andrigueti, also a partner in the firm.

The system is updated remotely from a command center. “We hardly ever need to send a technician out to a local site,” he adds.

The firm has an office in the city of São Paulo but conducts technological development in Campinas, a large city about 100 km inland from the state capital.

Based on the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), the programs developed by Addvance encompass the hospitality industry’s entire supply chain. The technological tools available cover more than hotel-guest interaction. “The platform enables the proprietor to monitor the entire operation remotely, including financial transactions,” Stefano says. “It comprises five subsystems. For a 20-room hotel, for example, that makes a significant difference to monthly costs. Information security has also been a priority for us from the word go.”

Despite the technology’s good penetration in the hospitality segment, the partners see plenty of scope for diversification into other markets. “Our system talks perfectly to platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and others, so property rental is also a segment of interest,” Pirotta says.

According to the firm’s data, the world currently has 25 million “doors” in hospitality units – 18 million in hotels, and 7 million in rental properties.

“Unfortunately, while hotels are going bankrupt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of rental properties is rising strongly,” Stefano notes. The technology offers huge potential, nonetheless. “Even in the case of hotels, cost-cutting has enabled the survivors to get by. A 20-room hotel operated in a conventional manner needs at least five receptionists. Service costs account for practically 50% of the daily rate.”

The firm recently signed an agreement with Xtay, an apartment rental firm part-owned by Atrio Hotel Management, one of Brazil’s leading hotel operators.