Skift Take

Hotel management platforms are a popular acquisition target this year. A property owner like MCR can add even more on-the-ground experience to make software efficient at a time when maximizing labor potential is a must due to shortages.

One of the largest owners and operators of hotels in the U.S. is making another tech grab.

MCR acquired hotel management platform Optii, the company exclusively announced to Skift Monday. Optii’s cloud-based tech focuses on housekeeping and is used by hotels and major brands around the world. The acquisition comes a little more than a year after MCR acquired StayNTouch, another property management system, for $46 million as a result of heightened tension between the U.S. and China.

Company leaders declined to go public with the acquisition price for Optii. 

“The entire tech stack and hotels is changing extraordinarily fast,” MCR CEO Tyler Morse said. 

Optii’s software aims to increase productivity with housekeeping and has become particularly useful in the era of the pandemic and labor shortages. The program’s service and chat functions cut down on call times and allow a property manager to assign and track jobs as well as guest requests.

It also integrates with many property management systems like StayNTouch. 

Both the Optii and StayNTouch acquisitions were fueled by what Morse said is tapping into next-generation products. The companies are cloud-native compared to earlier generations of products that utilized on-premises software installed on a business’s computers and servers. 

The cloud-based tech enables users to access the platforms anywhere, even when off property. 

MCR’s Optii takeover comes on the heels of an active period for travel tech acquisitions. Expedia Group sold its Alice hotel operations platform to ASG earlier this year while UniFocus, a subsidiary of The Riverside Co., acquired hotel management platform Knowcross in early September. 

“They each have a different niche, but it’s a testament that they work,” Morse said of the recent spree of management platform takeovers. “There’s a lot of clients, and that’s why they’re getting acquired.”

The global hotel industry responded well to Optii, which is now used across more than 10 million hotel rooms at properties around the world like the Venetian Macau and brands like Marriott and IHG. 

“The operating environment for hotels today is more challenging than it has ever been, with fluctuating occupancies, changing restrictions, labor shortages and increased cleaning protocols,” Optii CEO Katherine Grass said in a statement to Skift.

“It has never been more important for hotels to invest in the right technology, to help them tackle these challenges and equip their teams with the tools that are going to help them meet the needs of guests and hotels today. Operations is the largest single line item on any hotel balance sheet and has a direct impact on profit, so having it run efficiently, particularly at these times of reduced revenue and staff shortages, can be make or break for hotels.”

But just because 20,000-room client MCR with a $4 billion portfolio is buying Optii doesn’t mean it is going to stop working with some of the hotel company’s competitors. Optii will continue to operate as a standalone company and won’t be exclusively used by MCR’s hotels. 

None of Optii’s client data will be shared with MCR, the companies claim.

“This is not captive to MCR,” Morse said. “We are an arm’s-length client just like Las Vegas Sands is.”

The standalone structure is similar to how MCR handled StayNTouch following that takeover. It also means Optii’s leadership team, including Grass, Soenke Weiss — founder and chief strategy officer at Optii — and Deborah Pevenstein — Optii’s chief revenue officer — will continue in their current roles. 

“This acquisition will significantly boost our ability to provide hotels around the world with the technology they need to succeed in today’s operating environment,” Grass said. “This is a huge growth opportunity for our company to continue the momentum in the United States and Europe as well as to further develop our leadership position in Asia.”

[UPDATE]: This story was updated following publication to include additional commentary from Optii CEO Katherine Grass.

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Tags: coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, travel technology

Photo credit: MCR CEO Tyler Morse (right) speaking with Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali at Skift Global Forum earlier this year Skift

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