CIO50 2020 #26-50 Mike Rogers, SiteMinder
While all industries are plagued by data silos, the hotel space is arguably one of the most fragmented, according to Mike Rogers, CTO and co-founder of booking platform, and tech ‘unicorn’ SiteMinder.
Over the past year, he has led the tech development behind three initiatives that have further empowered the company’s 35,000 hotel customers to be more informed in their day-to-day decision-making. Launched last November, Hotel App Store allows any hotel to easily discover, choose and connect applications to their business systems for greater guest experiences and revenue. Then in March SiteMinder launched ‘Insights’, a real-time market intelligence solution that takes the guesswork out of pricing hotel rooms.
And in April this year, in response to COVID-19, the company built the World Hotel Index, which made SiteMinder’s proprietary bookings data available to the world for the first time, creating a simple, user-friendly interface which today enables businesses to crucially track the recovery of hotel bookings in their local market, most of which were decimated by travel restrictions.
“These initiatives have pushed us to keep our eyes on the bigger picture and always be thinking ahead for our customers, while taking care of the day-to-day,” Rogers tells CIO Australia.
“Ironically, they’ve made our own business more data-driven, too, because by being able to see the data that our customers see, we are able to understand and serve them better.”
The idea was simple, yet imagining how it would work in practise and getting the right people and processes in place for a successful deployment was very complex.
“While they each present a simple, user-friendly interface, they conceal huge complexity due to the sheer volume of hotel reservations that run through our systems and the large ecosystem that we make possible for the hotel industry,” Rogers explains.
Garnering insights from data is now front of mind, not just for Rogers and the technology team, but the whole business.
“In the same way that we encourage our customers to integrate all their systems for better flow of information, we’ve had to ensure that data is the glue allowing us to transition from a business model of offering multiple products to offering a single platform,” he adds.
“Data is no longer isolated and, similarly, our “data” teams are now fully integrated and spread across the broader product organisation.”
Off a cliff
Rogers recalls watching SiteMinder’s data almost hourly during March 2020.
“It was when I saw that our reservations volumes had dipped below 10 percent of their 2019 levels that I quickly connected with my co-founder, Mike Ford, along with our CMO and hatched a plan to release that data publicly for the first time, to ensure that all hoteliers could track the industry’s progress, as I was.
Within days, the team was building out what would become the World Hotel Index.
“Through the foresight to know what would be a helpful and in-demand tool, and by being responsive to what was in front of us at the time, we quickly crafted a free product that has gone on to guide and provide hope to thousands of hoteliers globally, benefiting them immensely.”
An ingrained spirit of collaboration and experimentation within SiteMinder’s tech team has been key to its successful response to COVID-19.
“I encourage team members to seamlessly hop from application to application, in order to facilitate an open-source culture in the company, so people can learn new skills all the time,” Rogers notes.
Likewise, its diverse team further fosters a culture sharing different ideas and perspectives. More than half of SiteMinder’s product and design team are women, including the chief product officer.