European hospitality tech company finds Las Vegas a perfect fit

International expansion brings plenty of excitement for any enterprise. At the same time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to find the right environment for your team in a new place.

For Rich Tuckwell-Skuda, the president of tech company Avvio’s North America operations, having access to the right labor pool for its operation was one of his company’s needs.

“You have to know hospitality to work in this company,” Rich said. “There are those industry proxy levels you need to know… We are looking to hire from within the industry those who may want to do other types of jobs.”

With its main operations based in the UK and Ireland, Avvio has recently developed and launched Allora, the first hotel booking platform infused with artificial intelligence (AI). The offering comes with a 25 percent direct booking revenue growth guarantee that has made a big splash in Europe. Avvio now works with a variety of operators like Faena in Miami, Fort Garry in Canada, Mardi Gras in Las Vegas and Royal Regency in New York, among others.

To continue that success in North America, Rich and the Avvio leadership team ultimately chose to make Las Vegas its American headquarters, bringing high-quality jobs and innovation to Southern Nevada.


The Nevada Difference

After meeting LVGEA leaders, President and CEO Jonas Peterson and COO Jared Smith, who were on an international legion trip to England a couple of years ago, Rich and his team at Avvio started giving strong consideration to Las Vegas for its North American headquarters. They, however, did their due diligence and filled out economic development applications in eight different states. Some of the other cities on its watch list included Miami, Orlando and Austin.

It was in January of 2017 when Avvio’s leadership team started putting the plans in place for a North American headquarters, and they were pleasantly surprised at how the LVGEA team helped them feel at ease about their move, more so than any other location’s officials could.

“[The LVGEA] really did set the bar high when we were dealing with different economic development boards,” Rich added. “It kind of changed the way we were even looking at different states.”

Added Perry Ursem, LVGEA’s vice president of business retention: “We were able to educate them on things like our international connectivity through McCarran International Airport, our workforce demographics, which was all important to them … and with the infrastructure and type of environment we have around hospitality, it was a natural fit.”

Avvio’s North American team also valued the introductions that the LVGEA team made to other local businesses and business leaders.

“They really were the quickest to respond, they were introducing us to landlords, property owners, companies we could work with and get services from. It was amazing how much they made life easier and made the transition overall that much easier,” Rich added.

Avvio opened its Las Vegas headquarters in July of this year. The company is now in full expansion and hiring mode. The local office will be home to about 40 employees in the next few years – a mix of administrative, finance and software experts, among other positions. The company will also have a satellite office in Miami for a small sales team.


Benefits for Southern Nevada

Technology enterprises like Avvio provide a boost to the Southern Nevada economy, Ursem added, as they bring a powerful technology concept to Las Vegas, but also seek to establish a headquarters here. This opens the door to a strong early influx of jobs, but also leaves it open for added future job growth. As with other businesses who choose to make Las Vegas their headquarters, the city then can become a center of activity for a particular industry, possibly bringing in similar types of businesses or others ancillary or complementary industries who work with that type of enterprise.

With the completion of its Target Industry Validation Study earlier this year, the LVGEA was able to identify a number of different industries and business types to target for diversification efforts. Areas of focus include: business headquarters and services, emerging technology, logistics, manufacturing and supply chain management, autonomous systems, finance/banking, insurance, health care and medical education.

Avvio’s presence brings an emerging technology and a corporate headquarters presence with the potential for significant economic impact in Las Vegas.

“This was the right environment. We needed that pool of people who understood hospitality professionalism [and] we needed to set up something that was scalable. … We see Avvio growing significantly here over the coming years as we scale up the business across Nevada and other key regions in North America,” Rich said. “We expect to be a $40 million business within three years.”

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