SiteMinder disrupted the global hotel industry in 2006 with a technology solution that has since helped more than 35,000 hotels of all sizes to: acquire more guests, increase revenue, and ultimately save time and money so they can focus on the hospitality that they do best.
Today, SiteMinder is one of Australia’s tech unicorns, but how did it get there and what lessons have been learned along the way?
We spoke to the company’s global director of billing and collections, Evan Miller, to find out.
Improving efficiency at scale
Like many businesses, SiteMinder initially billed manually, until the company entered a phase of high growth and the process became unscalable. Evan explains:
“As you grow, things get more complex. The business’ needs change and the needs and expectations from your customers change too. We needed to adapt to overcome those challenges.”
Evan started looking at how SiteMinder could improve efficiency and increase the predictability in their business’ performance. This led them to subscription management platform, Zuora.
“We needed predictability of revenue and cash flow. We also wanted to eliminate some of the more manual, inefficient processes around payments and billing. Zuora gave us the level of automation we needed to make that happen.”
SiteMinder began as a wholly subscription-based business, and as such the service it provides customers has always been key. Zuora’s out-of-the-box payment integrations helped the team to ensure that recurring billing didn’t get in the way of ongoing relationships with customers.
Everything we do is ultimately about the customer experience. Receiving a bill and making a payment as a customer should be frictionless. If they are spending a lot of time doing that, then you are failing to meet their expectations. Having a robust system with automation across the process is crucial.”
SiteMinder now has seven offices around the world and more than 35,000 customers in 160 countries but billing customers in new markets hasn’t always been easy. Evan says:
“We grew very quickly into new markets without a defined payments strategy. This meant that we ended up with eight payment gateways and banks providing different parts of the payment service.”
The inconsistent customer experiences led Evan and the team to undertake a project to evaluate the payment gateways that SiteMinder worked with.
We chose GoCardless as our global bank debit provider because of their strengths in global payment processing and we knew that we could grow with them in to new markets as well.”
SiteMinder was able to get up and running with GoCardless’ integration with Zuora.
“GoCardless for Zuora means we can run everything through one integration. This removes other manual processes like payment reconciliation because it’s all automated within our Zuora setup.”
This level of automation and the transparency of bank debit fees give SiteMinder the predictability it was looking for over cash flow.
“The fees with card payments are very complex, whereas with GoCardless and bank debit, we know exactly how much we will be paying. This level of visibility is massive for our global business.”
Understanding customer preference
As SiteMinder defined its payment strategy, Evan understood how customers expected to pay was different across markets - and that having the right payment options available could be the difference between gaining customers or losing out to the competition. He explains:
The way customers want to pay in different markets is fundamentally different. In Europe, for example, bank debit is extremely prevalent. Our customers demanded it and now 70% of our European customers have chosen to pay through GoCardless over credit card to make their payments.”
SiteMinder has also found that bank debit it a popular choice for their customers in Australia, where 50% pay via GoCardless.
On advising other businesses that are looking to expand internationally, Evan says:
“It’s really about doing your research and building out that payment strategy. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to understand how your customers want to pay in those new markets and find a payment provider that can support you in doing so.”