Published On : Mon, Dec 21st, 2015

HotelKey – the App that helps you run a hotel from mobile launching office in Nagpur

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Aditya Thyagarajan (L) Fareed Ahmad (R)

Aditya Thyagarajan (L) Fareed Ahmad (R)

Nagpur: Move over Bangalore. Nagpur is now the new destination for back end offices of US- customer based companies floated by South Asians based in USA. Why Nagpur? A much better city to live in, cheaper in many ways, IT professionals available and if your own origins are from this area – why not patronize it?

A new entrant HotelKey is going to launch its office in Nagpur this 22nd December. It has already begun its operations in the US and bagged some lucrative assignments and projects which right now are under wraps awaiting Corporate announcements at an opportune time.

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This is a Company with a brand new exciting concept of how to run a Hotel, even a big international chain of Hotels and Motels, or a stand alone boutique hotel in some inaccessible island somewhere… through an I pad or a smart phone!

It is equally helpful for both the customers – potential guests – and hotel management. Even hotel housekeeping and reservation staff will benefit from it. So what is it about, how does it work and who are the people behind it? Nagpur Today brings you exclusive coverage of this ‘blue Ocean’ company that will soon take the Hospitality industry by storm! Read on…

So who are the Founders of HotelKey? There are two, both of Asian origin.

Aditya Thyagarajan, President

Aditya Thyagarajan is a versatile person who has been a Cricketer donning Karnataka colors when he was a student in Bangalore. He also represented the USA Cricket Team with distinction for many years. Aditya is responsible for business, revenue growth and client solutions. Most of his time is spent around taking HotelKey into different market segments and providing market feedback to the development teams. Prior to HotelKey, Aditya spent 10 years at Yardi Systems – A world leader in real estate and asset management software. At Yardi, he started as a programmer in 2005 and steadily moved up within the organization. Aditya led development, implementation and sales teams within the company and played a major role in bringing a fully integrated single stack solution to the Commercial Real Estate industry. In 2000, Aditya earned a BS in Computer Science from BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore (India). He then went on to graduate with a MS in Computer Science from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2003.

Fareed Ahmad, CEO

Fareed is responsible for overall company strategy, product and engineering. A technologist at heart, Fareed’s main focus is to combine mobile innovation with market demands and build the most cost effective state of the art Hotel Management Software system. Fareed had a long and successful career at IBM before his venture into HotelKey. He progressed from a software engineer to Program Director at IBM and led many key initiatives during his 12 years with the company. He led the IBM.com e-commerce development team which generated more than $1 Billion in annual sales. Fareed also led a BPO software solutions team at IBM which supported products which had an annual revenue of $1.2 Billion. Fareed has a BS in Computer Science.

Aditya Thyagrajan, President is in Nagpur for launch of the company office. Nagpur Today had a chat with him. Some excerpts :

NT – What is HotelKey about?

Aditya – HotelKey is a State of the Art Property Management System built to manage hotels and motels. Frontdesk iPad app provides core Hotel management functions, reporting and analytics. Owner and Manager Apps on smartphones provide real time access to occupancy and other key performance indicators. The Housekeeping and maintenance apps help you manage daily maintenance and repair functions. HotelKey mobile booking application, self check-in and drive to room are innovations which will revolutionize the hotel industry

The app is beneficial to the Hospitality industry because at their end they can monitor when rooms in their properties are checked into and checked out of so rooms can be got ready for new customers without much delay. House keeping benefits too from this almost real-time customer information.

NT – How did you think about this enterprise?

Aditya – Fareed Ahmad and I were living in the Bay Area in early 2014 when we started thinking about new ideas, innovations and business problems we can solve. That’s when we thought of combining Mobility and Hospitality based innovations to revolutionize the industry. I moved to America in 2001 and during my college days at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), I would frequently visit my friends in Los Angeles and Long Beach who were hotel and motel owners. So, I did get a taste of the industry and felt like it was a perfect time to introduce innovations into this space. Fareed had dabbled with mobile programming and cloud computing during his days at IBM and it turned out a perfect combination for what we were trying to build and solve. So, in about a year and a half here we are with HotelKey which has close to 40 employees and is live at about 60+ hotels in California. We are also extremely fortunate to be working with one of America’s largest budget franchise hotel companies based out of USA.

NT – Why the name HotelKey?

Aditya – Fareed, I and our families were discussing various options over dinner one evening. Suddenly Sandy Quo, Fareed’s wife said ” this app could be the key to running Hotels successfully in the near future, so why not call it HotelKey?” This seemed like a pun on the word Key – key to success; key to a hotel room – it fitted perfectly!

NT -What are your products and what makes them unique?

Aditya – We have an array of products which have been built keeping simplicity and performance in mind. Our architecture allows us to scale globally as needed. Our cloud based solution supports every aspect of hotel management.

On the front desk, we have an iPad app which guest service representatives can use to quickly check in guests. We provide various features such as ID scan, touch screen and most importantly an architecture which keeps the hotel running at a fast pace even if the internet is down or slow.

With the whole world moving towards mobility and smart phones, we provide robust guest apps on phones and tablets which our guests can use to check in, check out, send service requests to front desk etc. These apps also integrate with companies such as Uber, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. We also provide a self check in kiosk at hotels where guests can identify themselves and check in. At locations where hotels are equipped with Soft Locks, our software lets guests open their rooms using apps on their Smartphone and an apple watch if they own one.
We improve on operational efficiency by integrating our Housekeeping and Maintenance apps with our Front desk. Housekeepers and Maintenance Engineers can clean rooms, log issues, fix issues real time and all this instantly updates the front desk, thus, completely streamlining operations at a hotel.

HotelKey also provides state of the art analytics and a manager app where hotel owners and managers can view live data and statistics on their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Our customers love this real time data access feature.

NT – Can you tell us more about your current clients, and team managing them in the US and elsewhere?

Aditya – We have close to 40 employees globally. They are spread across development, support, implementation and product management. We focus most of our time and energy on innovation and building the best product we can to support our current and prospective clients. We have 60+ clients which we on-boarded in Q4, 2014. Most of our 2015 went in working with our marquee franchise customer building out our enterprise functionality with a lot of focus on fine tuning various applications which will help serve our clients better and make them efficient and in the long run increase their revenue and retain their guests.

NT – What are your future plans and where do you see the company in the next 3 years.

Aditya : Our plan is to build a long term business with a core focus on the Hospitality industry. We will continue to invest in technology and innovation. The number 1 priority for our teams would be to keep our customer happy. In the next 3 years, I see a lot of opportunity in Nagpur where we plan on adding 50 high quality employees every year for the next 3 years. We will invest in our employees and build the company with the right ethics and we believe this will also reflect in our customer service.

NT – Finally, why Nagpur?

Aditya: I was born in Amravati, about 150 Kms from Nagpur. My wife is also from Nagpur. We have extremely close ties with the community here. So, Fareed and I always had Nagpur on our mind. We have offices in Dallas, Kosovo and Lahore. The current team under Fareed has done an amazing job in building the product and launching it in the market. To support our clients better and to keep up with our growing demands, we felt that this was the time to expand our team and Nagpur provided a great infrastructure and talent base. Our country manager is Ritesh Patwardhan who is a GH Raisoni graduate and has worked at TCS for 3 years. Once we got him, we quickly set up a team of developers and product support engineers under him. We also partnered with some top universities and hired a few interns to round up our first phase of hiring which consisted of about 13 employees. We are almost functional now and have an office in Bajaj Nagar which can house up to 30 employees.

Aditya did not mention it in so many words, but NT has learnt through its sources that some Nagpur Hotels have already signed in to giving a trial to HotelKey apps. So now it’s not just Dallas – and California and other US hotels, Nagpur is going to go high tech too, where hotels go!

Nagpur truly goes global with this one…

 

Sunita Mudliyar

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