A couple of years ago, SiteMinder, the Australia-based hotel technology provider, targeted North America as a market, having already expanded to receive a majority of its revenue from hotels in Europe.
The company's progress was slower than expected. In the US, it took the company more than a year and a half to get its feet.
But it says it is now on-boarding a couple hundred properties every month in the US onto its cloud-based software, which allows hotels to market themselves on the internet worldwide.
Globally, it says it is putting on around six or seven hundred new hotels every month.
It says it has recently invested heavily in offices with localized service teams on the ground in Southeast Asia as well as in Australia Pacific, Europe, and North America.
In June, the company rolled out its first venture in hotel revenue management with a product called Prophet.
To catch up on what's new, Tnooz spoke with CEO Mike Ford.
SiteMinder's signature product is a channel manager. But the core product in a hotel's tech stack is arguably the property management system (PMS). What's the state of the PMS?
"PMS companies are in a quandary. Hotels are integrating with all of these cloud-based services, and they’re expecting their PMSs to provide the connectivity.
Today’s PMS has got to be a totally integrated platform on the outside as well as on the backend. The PMSs that don’t integrate broadly will lose customers. I predict big shifts in market share around that...."
What's happening with the hotel technology stack overall?
"I predict that today’s fragmented market will stay fragmented. I don’t see any company taking over the vertical tech stack, or even the horizontal tech stack….
Hotels are getting out of the old mindset of refreshing their technology on a long cycle, like every five or seven years. Cloud-based tools — and we’re just one of many out there — let hotels get up and running with services in a short time....
You can spin up a website booking engine, a business intelligence tool, a revenue management tool, and have the whole suite fully seamlessly integrated into PMS in a couple of days. Soon there will be better CRM products, too, like Guestfolio, than today’s clunky ones. ...
SiteMinder offers a month-to-month contract as well as an annual one, because the annual one is an increasingly outdated concept for many hotels....
Hotel owners now have a chance, thanks to cloud-based software, to shift from tactically from putting out fires, like manually capturing reservations in their back-end systems, to pro-actively strategizing about how to boost revenue.
They’re asking themselves, or at least the smarter ones are, “What are my competitors doing? Is the market sold out? Can I raise my rates or is Airbnb generating extra demand? How can I get more for every room, increase my ADR, get onto more channels, get more exposure?”
New cloud-based tools from several vendors, including SiteMinder, can give you a high converting website that’s mobile optimized and localized in multiple languages within a couple of days.
A general manager can update rates and make other changes on their mobile device, and not be stuck to a desk — this is becoming the new norm among next-generation hotel tech.
The new tech is reducing errors. Front desk workers sometimes make keying mistakes when re-entering data. If it's coming straight from the digital channel in to the PMS, the data is high-quality."
In June, SiteMinder released a new "hotel-pricing intelligence" tool, Prophet. Why is it focused on only very basic revenue management services?
"We don't intend it to be a full blown revenue management system....
The story behind it is simple. We spoke to a hotel in Sydney and he said two weeks before there had been an event in Sydney. He had had no idea. Everybody was selling their rooms at a $1,000 per night and he was still selling it at $200.
One glance at Prophet he would have gone, right. It would show: Everybody's up in rates.
For a more sophisticated hotel, for example, a very popular three-way integration that quite a number of chains have done with us is with Oracle Hospitality PMS and IDeaS revenue management system…. It's a perfect triangle. And none of the three companies see themselves competing in the others’ spaces.
Ours is a simpler concept. But so far, so good. In the first 24 hours, alone, it had already attracted nearly 900 users and we're looking forward to see that adoption accelerate as we introduce new features over the coming weeks.
We've just introduced a yielding tool in our channel manager which allows you to sort of shut down certain channels, after you've sold a certain number of rooms.
If you want to do revenue strategy, you can cap how much you have coming in through OTAs, how much through metas, through the GDS, through wholesalers. You can automate — it's like a rules engine to really effectively control what commissions you're paying, depending on what segments are coming in on, say, the weekend....
A hotelier can now experiment. You can find works for their property in their own market. There are no hard and fast rules. You could automate the channel manager tool to shut down an OTA channel with a high commission in a particular season or in a particular day of the week or when a demand or occupancy level reaches a certain level."
Prophet seems rather OTA-focused.
"Our idea was to get a really early version of the product out to market and get feedback. At the moment, ultimately it's an OTA focus. But our next iteration is extending to direct so you will be able to actually look at your OTA rates versus your own website...."
What about Airbnb, HomeAway, and short-term rental generally?
"That's on the product road map. The vacation rental market is just so disparate, instead of looking at every single listing, we're intending to look up the vacation rental as an average benchmark in your area.
Because it doesn't make sense for you to look at 15 apartments in your comp set. But it does makes sense to say what your average B&B rate around you, within a 10-mile radius is ..."
What about reputation management?
"You can actually set up in our tool rules for that. Let's say a Cornell study says that if your competitors' one point in reputation score below you, you can charge 13% more for your room, for example.
So you can actually include your competitors' reputation score in that rule, and you can say if my competitor with a reputation score equal to me then when this condition happens, tell me and if my competitor has a reputation score one point below me, then tell me when it's sort of more than 13% differential or whatever the case is. You can craft your rules around their reputations.
We don’t measure reputation ourselves. We integrate with the specialists, like Revinate, ReviewPro, and TrustYou, etc."
What makes SiteMinder's products stand out?
"We're very open in our architecture, or platform, approach....
We also tend to do integrations where there's a deep data exchange between systems, to add value. We don't sort of just merchandise other systems through ours, in other words, like some other players do…."
What else makes SiteMinder stand out from its competitors?
"Several things: It's the workflow touches that matter most to some customers. We've talked a lot with hoteliers to find out what they need, design-wise.
We strive to provide a mechanism for single sign-on to reach all of its applications. This has been a changed strategy. We started off with separate products. Now we aim for a seamless experience.
A user can now actually jump between all of our different applications, seamlessly without having to re-log in. Certain data, such as around rates, are just common across applications."
Lots of companies are debuting analytics for hoteliers. What makes SiteMinder's stand out?
"Our dashboards have clear advice. Some larger groups and chains have software whose guidance is presented in a way that is not obviously actionable to the employees who have to figure out what to do with it."
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