Hospitality management software company Cloudbeds is looking to reimagine how hotels think about “contactless” service.
“I love my industry very much but at times my industry can be a little laggard in the way we think,” said Cloudbeds CEO and co-founder Adam Harris. “We’re coming out of challenging time [with the pandemic] – one of the scariest things that has happened to the travel industry, where ‘contactless’ became the norm, and our hotel industry gave us plexiglass. They put these big giant sheets of plexiglass at the front desk – that was their answer to contactless.”
Instead of plexiglass, Cloudbeds has been working on solutions to make the guest journey more digital.
“Why couldn’t that way you interact with a hotel – from discovering a property, to arriving at a property, to accessing your room at a property, to augmenting your stay with food and beverage experiences, all the way to giving feedback – not be in the digital manner we are accustomed to in other fields and industry?” Harris said.
To answer that question, Cloudbeds has been growing its hotel management platform – most recently by acquiring guest engagement software company Whistle.
Whistle’s software provides guest engagement with unified communication tools, digitized arrival experiences and more. Current customers include major hospitality brands and hoteliers around the world, including Choice Hotels, Accor, IHG and Four Sisters Inns, among others.
Whistle will play an important role in the Cloudbed’s solution for frictionless engagement between guests and hotels – and give lodging businesses a unified platform to manage points of contact throughout the entire guest journey
“We thought if we can take that journey and bring that into the core of what we do for these hoteliers and really sort of marry the hotelier and the guest and have a great relationship between the two, sparks would fly and would be true love forever,” Harris said.
Cloudbeds COO and co-founder Richard Castle said the Whistle engagement platform encourages “more contact” between hotels and guests at a time when “contactless” is becoming “far too synonymous with hospitality.”
“Research shows that engaged guests spend more, leave better reviews and the majority prefer to communicate via digital channels — Whistle makes it all possible,” he said. “Whether it’s a booking engine chat or front desk text request, Whistle positions Cloudbeds customers to be a part of the guest journey from discovery to post-stay, removing barriers that might hinder a booking or positive review.”
The Whistle software platform allows for simple messaging for hotels to help them with registration, fix issues in a room or even provide restaurant recommendations. Harris said the added engagement will allow hoteliers to better focus on “attribute selling” by better understanding a guest’s personal preferences and allow hotels to “pull more wallet share” from guests.
Whistle CEO Christopher Hovanessian said the merger with will allow the two companies to “make a greater impact on the industry that benefits not only the guest, but also the property staff and the lodging business itself.”
“Our goal has always been to give lodging businesses a unique, easy-to-use solution that simplifies and streamlines the way they communicate,” he said. “Cloudbeds has a clear vision for building a better, more frictionless hospitality experience via a unified platform.
Terms of the acquisition were not released, however Harris said it was “a great transaction for both sides” and that Cloudbeds will retain Whistle’s entire team.
“We’re very excited about what that represents for them and their new growth and career opportunities inside our org,” he said.
The Whistle acquisition is the third for Cloudbeds following a $150 million Series D financing round completed last November. The company has also acquired digital marketing and positioning firm Odysys based in Bend, Oregon, as well as Ads Hotel, a company from Northern Italy that specializes in paid for performance marketing in the major online travel channels that are bid managed. Cloudbeds used the tech from both companies to build its Amplify platform.
“Whistle helps with happier guests, Amplify is about more reservations,” Harris said. “With Odysys and Ads Hotel together, you have a tool in a series of technology and series of experts that can help position a hotel online, help them find their next guest more efficiently than the traditional mediums that are commonly used.”
Amplify pulls together various online entities that hotels use to find guests, such as Expedia, AirBnB, Hotels.com, Booking.com and more, Harris explained. “Most hotels don’t pull it all together and think about it as a complete picture and Amplify is really an engine that helps them think of pockets that they’re not leveraging today in finding and capturing that guest.”
With the unified platforms of Amplify and Whistle, Harris said Cloudbeds will be able to release new capabilities by grabbing data from both inside and outside of its platform, making it easier for people to check in and expanding guest experiences.
On the Horizon
In addition to expanding platform capabilities, Cloudbeds is also expanding its outreach into education with its Cloudbeds Horizon program that provides its software to colleges and universities all over the world that teach hotel management, including leading hospitality programs at Les Roches and EHL.
“We’re looking at education and thought leadership as being critical to our own future,” Harris said. “They’re now training on our tech and using our tech as part of their curriculum.”
Cloudbeds is also working on bringing the program to SDSU, although there is “no formal agreement yet,” Harris said. “But I have been over there at their school and spoke with their team and their class recently.”