Diallo Powell is Founder & CEO at Curant, a mobile platform that enhances service, payment and promotions across multiple sectors, including hospitality. Curant’s mobile-first Property Experience (PX) product offers its property management partners a white-label mobile solution to drive revenue, automate service, amplify marketing and gain new data insights. The company’s enterprise SaaS product uses location-based technologies to engage individuals at every touchpoint in their property journey from pre-arrival through post-departure.
Tell us a bit about Curant and the benefits your mobile solution delivers. How is are your platform capabilities helping hotels improve the guest experience?
The Curant platform, like hospitality in general, is about providing timely and personalized service. The platform allows our partners to optimize service while maximizing opportunities to drive revenue and engage customers, from the pre-arrival experience through post-stay. We think of the mobile phone as a remote control for experiences within a physical space. There are so many scenarios where this delivers value to the guest and our partners.
How about lowering hotel costs and improving operational efficiency? Are hotels able to quantify the benefits of a mobile service platform in terms of financial outcomes?
There are clear efficiencies that come with automating service. Our software-based solution integrates directly with our partners’ existing workflow and various point solutions. This approach has made for quick implementation with minimal training that has clear benefits for guests and staff. One statistic stands out that illustrates our platform’s success: an 80% reuse rate by unique users, which speaks to a very positive experience. We also realized that with each order, as a user grows to trust the system, ticket sizes tend to grow. These are both very encouraging signs of driving incremental revenue while improving operational efficiency.
We recently published an article about Thompson Zihuatanejo’s deployment of Curant. How did that client relationship come about and is that a typical engagement?
The Thompson Zihuatanejo relationship came out of the property’s desire to deliver an experience based on its brand promise tied to a certain hipness and youthfulness. We focused on engaging their clientele where they are—literally on their phones—and figuratively—meeting new expectations in an on-demand world. We understand that physical experience is not enough anymore to drive brand loyalty. Merging physical and digital interaction is critical in the longevity of customer relationship management and is the core mindset of Curant. It makes for an easy partnership within hospitality.
What are the biggest obstacles and challenges hotel operators face when it comes to adopting mobile applications and tools?
There are a lot of different perspectives on the role of technology in advancing hospitality and where the line is drawn between modern and traditional approaches. I think every brand, operator and owner needs to make that decision for themselves. Our job is to make a solution flexible enough to adapt to different environments and approaches that delivers value. Our goal is to never cram technology down anyone’s throat, but to truly understand the business and how we can offer something that makes the lives and experiences of guests, management and staff better.
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory. What led you to founding Curant? How has your vision for the company changed — or not changed, if that’s the case — over the years?
I was part of a founding team, which launched a new company in 2008, and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my career. I love the process of developing new ideas and all of the creative and tactical work necessary to turn those ideas into sustainable businesses. Since then, I’ve been an executive member of leadership teams or a co-founder in launching five businesses that have grossed more than $500 million in revenue. More importantly, the companies we started were always unique and innovative and pushed the limits in their respective niche.
I founded Curant after a personal experience that made me recognize an opportunity to apply modern technology to greatly improve guest engagement in a way that would benefit not only customers, but also management and ownership. I think of product, first and foremost, as delivering value and generally believe there’s a strong business use case if you can create advantages across all stakeholders. My initial vision for Curant was to harness the ubiquity of mobile devices and new opportunities in human-machine interfaces and location-based technologies to introduce greater automation in a service context. We have had the privilege of working with some amazing partners in our effort to realize this vision and have found the opportunity to be even greater than we originally thought. I am excited about what we have accomplished so far and look forward to seeing how the company and our vision will evolve—five or 10 years from now.
What will be the primary focus areas for Curant this next year, particularly in terms of driving increased adoption of your mobile service platform in the hotel industry?
This year we are focused on over-delivering for our partners and ensuring we produce the highest quality software and experience. We obsess over the details to make sure people absolutely love our product. We also realize that data, the evidence of our value, is key to achieving increased adoption in the industry. This year is very much about providing a clear picture of the universe of KPIs that we can positively influence for our current and future partners. At the guest level, we use the flexibility of our platform to find ways to integrate with various point solutions at various touchpoints to improve awareness and adoption of the mobile experience.
Is there anything about the hotel industry or your experience working with leading hoteliers that surprises you?
The energy. It’s really dynamic. The excitement was palpable the day we launched with Thompson, from the exec team down to the staff and through to the guests. I have also been pleasantly surprised by people’s openness to new ideas and willingness to try new things. I’ve seen how intensely competitive things are in the hospitality industry. The winner is always the one evolving and adapting to the new age of how people connect to a brand. We truly believe we are helping to drive that evolution and elevate service in a modern way.