It all started in Brazil.
“The idea came from the frustration of our founders attempting to book a bed & breakfast while traveling in Brazil. These were smaller properties that, in many cases, were doing things manually and weren’t connected to the web. With the World Cup looming, they saw an opportunity to help a lot of smaller properties connect with the people that had no idea they were available,” Matthew Parry remembers.
Matthew is the Director of Marketing for Cloudbeds, a company started by Richard Castle and Adam Harris. They help small hospitality businesses around the world connect with clients as easily as the big guys do.
“My family was actually in the hospitality industry. So, I had an immediate connection with what was going on with Cloudbeds. That’s what drew me in initially and is why I love telling this story.”
The idea came from the frustration of our founders attempting to book a bed & breakfast while traveling in Brazil. These were smaller properties that, in many cases, were doing things manually and weren’t connected to the web.
Before coming up with Cloudbeds, the two co-founders were running a hospitality consulting firm, which meant they had the experience and knowledge to jumpstart a new venture.
“A lot of smaller hospitality operations don’t have access to the kind of tools that some of the bigger chains do. Adam and Richard figured that this would be a great way to help independent providers.”
But, as Matthew points out, there’s much more to Cloudbeds than that.
“It’s really about connecting people, and connecting them with real and unique experiences.”
“We needed to get ourselves out there,” Matthew recalls. “The space is pretty fragmented. There are a few bigger players, but there are lots and lots of smaller companies that perform pieces of what we do. There are lots of property management systems, channel managers, and independent booking engines – many of them focused on small regional markets.”
Richard and Adam had to stand out among the crowd, and what better way to do that than putting everything into one easy-to-use package.
“We sell that as Cloudbeds. It includes a really intuitive property management system that’s connected to a channel manager, so those are always in sync. We also provide a booking engine, so you can book your own reservation. The sum of that is that a smaller hospitality operation has all the tools they need to launch their property and keep everything in sync.”
The hope for everyone at Cloudbeds is to make independent properties more successful – allowing them to get more reservations and giving them back time that they can use to provide more authentic experiences for travelers
The hope for everyone at Cloudbeds is to make independent properties more successful – allowing them to get more reservations and giving them back time that they can use to provide more authentic experiences for travelers. Matt notes that many people new to Cloudbeds often used pencil and paper to log everything from payments to guest lists.
“That takes a lot of time. They’re going from something very manual to something state of the art, and possibly ahead of some of the larger hotels that are struggling with out of date technology or systems installed on premise.”
For Cloudbeds, it’s all about being in the corner of the little guy.
“We really help automate a lot of their day, and automate a lot of their workflow so they can actually focus on running their business. There’s no need for them to toil over smaller administrative tasks.”
To ensure the best service and steady growth for their utterly global operation, Cloudbeds had to find the best way to acquire the best talent to help run their own business.
To do so, they looked far and wide.
Respecting the Remote
The global perspective Richard and Adam began with expanded as they grew. It’s always been a part of their business philosophy, and they’ve extended it to their internal operations as well.
That’s a bit of an understatement. Cloudbeds presently has remote employees in more than 28 countries. You read that right.
“We are ‘Remote First.’ I have a hard time not saying ‘hashtag remote first,’ because we use it everywhere. We have this philosophy that embraces the remote working life. We provide the ultimate flexibility for our employees. For example, we’re not even sure where one of our sales people lives because every week he’s in a different place!”
“It’s all about finding the best people for the job. We try to recruit as widely as we can. To create the best company we can, we need the most talented people working here.”
Managing your amazing global clients becomes a bit more complicated, and having so many remote employees is harder than you thought.
As with the hostels and small hotels they work with, Cloudbeds is a focal point for their international employees. They’re simply the best at finding the best.
“But more than that, we need such a diverse workforce. Our many clients speak many languages, and their clients speak even more. Plus, learning the customs and hospitality norms in these countries from someone who’s actually been there is invaluable for us. It creates trust with clients, and expands our expertise.”
With all this stellar talent, Cloudbeds can handle the surface issues that come with operating an international business.
But, when it comes to finances, things get a bit trickier. Managing your amazing global clients becomes a bit more complicated, and having so many remote employees is harder than you thought.
For some insight, we also spoke with Kiel Smith, CPA and Cloudbeds’ Director of Finance.
As Kiel explains, a lot more goes into an international business than hiring a global staff.
“On the higher level business side, some of the struggles we have revolve around collecting money in so many different currencies, credit card payment processing fees, and currency conversions and FX. There’s more, but let’s just say there’s a ton that goes into it.”
Cloudbeds has grown so much, and so quickly, that Kiel and his team have had to work extra hard to optimize payment processes for clients and employees alike. So, when he came on board, Kiel searched for ways to make everything easier, less expensive, and faster for clients and coworkers.
“It’s super expensive and time-consuming to send all of our employees bank wires, and it can be even worse to receive them. Our goal was to get rid of the fees that we all incur from that awful process.”
So, he started looking around.
“I had been doing some research on some different platforms, when I got a random email talking about this Veem thing So, I checked it out, and it checked out. I liked it better than the other platforms I’d seen. The FX rates were great for employees and clients, but the main draw was the amount saves without using bank wires. We send about 50 wires a month, and at $20 a pop, that really starts to add up. Plus, in some countries, it’s $90 per wire.”
With Veem, the visibility is amazing. The ability to track your payments and double-check to make sure everyone’s paid in a timely manner is a must for us. Veem provides that as standard.
For us C math students out there, that’s between $1000 and $1800 in savings every month by using Veem. That’s huge, and not something Kiel was going to pass up.
“The big thing too was wires getting lost. One side doesn’t have all the information they need, the bank doesn’t contact us, and 3 or 4 weeks later we’d get a refund from our wire because it got stuck in a bank for a month. All the while, we think it’s paid. With Veem, the visibility is amazing. The ability to track your payments and double-check to make sure everyone’s paid in a timely manner is a must for us. Veem provides that as standard.”
As Cloudbeds continues to grow, Kiel, Matthew, Richard, and Adam continue to focus on the global, and help the little guys out there succeed.
“We’re people-centric. We’re in their corner. In a world where technology and the way things are done is changing so rapidly, we want to be the force that empowers them to operate the business that they want to operate. No hiccups, no strings.”
And don’t forget the guests.
“For us, it’s all about connecting, and making the world a smaller place.”
The world is shrinking, and everyone needs a place to hang their hat. With Cloudbeds around, there’s no doubt that they’ll always have somewhere to stay.