Days Inn to Test Kiosk for Guest Check-in
By Jerry W. Jackson | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted November 8, 2004
Rapid check-in at hotels is the wave of the future, and a small Orlando company that got its start at the University of Central Florida's technology business incubator is hoping to ride the wave with a product of its own.
Ascendovations Inc. plans to test its ExpressCheck kiosk at a Days Inn property near International Drive later this year and is working on other potential hotel deals.
"We want to do the local market first. This is the best area to start because of all the hotels and tourism," said Gaidi Hartage, president of Ascendovations.
Hartage, 26, is the son of Orange County Commissioner Homer Hartage. A friend of the Hartage family who runs the Days Inn is allowing the test at its hotel, Gaidi Hartage said. "It's basically a test, at cost, to get it in the field and tested," he said.
Meanwhile, he said, talks are under way with other hotel operators to move forward quickly once any operational kinks are worked out through the early field testing.
Hartage and two other employees run the company, which was founded in 2001 and emerged from the UCF incubator in 2002. But the firm, which has focused on software development and applications, still draws on help from the incubator as needed, Hartage said.
Founded in 1999, the UCF Technology Incubator has helped more than 80 emerging companies, accounting for about 450 jobs with an average salary of $59,000.
Hartage said that Ascendovations is still in the early stages of growth, with an unstable revenue stream that comes and goes with projects. But the former Lucent Technologies employee said the company has built on its past and learned to adapt, expanding one of its early generation information kiosks, for example, to come up with the hotel model.
The company's first touch-screen kiosk, informational only, is in use at Lynx bus stations in the Orlando area. But the latest model is more sophisticated, Hartage said, in that it takes credit cards and can handle transactions for check-in and checkout. The units are manufactured for the company by a Colorado firm.