Adam Harris saw a void in the hospitality industry in Brazil. There needed to be a more efficient way for travelers to reserve a hotel room in the South American nation, he said, and a mechanism for hoteliers to be able to fill their rooms faster.
In preparation for this summer’s FIFA World Cup -- which Brazilian officials expect 600,000 tourists from around the world to attend -- Harris and his business partner, Richard Castle, created Onde Ficar, a company that provides a digital marketing program for hotels.
This software facilitates the process for hotels of putting room inventory online and markets it through traditional Web and social media channels.
The company also helps hotels with day-to-day operations, such as distributing certain rooms to third-party hotel sites for each partner hotel in Brazil.
“Our software works more behind the scenes and in conjunction with websites like Expedia and TripAdvisor to see if hotels or hostels are available to book,” Harris, 32, said.
Onde Ficar, which means "where to stay" in Portuguese, has 15 employees with the entire sales team stationed across Brazil.
“They actively associate with property managers,” Harris said. “My job is to support my sales team and give them the tools they need to succeed.”
Harris said he and Castle started with Brazil because “it is one of the markets that is behind the times. We call it the ‘Wild, Wild West’ in the travel game. You don’t have the Hilton and Marriotts in consolidated markets. Most hotels are independent.”
Harris said 80 percent of the hotels and hostels in Brazil don’t have online booking resources available to them.
The incentives for hotels and hostels, Harris said, are at least a 15 percent occupancy increase and, thus, more revenue.
Onde Ficar makes its money by charging hotels and hostels a monthly subscription to use its software.
Close to $3 million was raised from private investment groups to launch Onde Ficar, Harris said.
The company is based out of San Diego and has software and technical support offices in Miami and Ukraine.
Harris said the company is also focused on developing its services for hotels and hostels in Eastern Asia, Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Harris’ background is in the hospitality industry. He has built similar systems and programs for the W Hotels and Marriott.
Harris was also successful in saving the La Jolla fireworks show in 2009. He helped lead an eleventh-hour online campaign and managed to raise $60,000 in 24 hours through private donations.
Harris is San Diego native and a graduate of The Bishop's School and University of California, Berkeley.