Meet the Creators: SiteMinder’s CTO Mike Rogers says “empathising with customers is the critical thing”

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Mike Rogers

After celebrating a 10-year anniversary, it was time to discover more about the driving forces behind SiteMinder’s ongoing success. In this four-part interview series, co-founders Mike Ford and Mike Rogers talk about their business philosophies, share their expertise, and take a deep dive into SiteMinder’s industry-leading products.

Today, Mike Rogers speaks about how SiteMinder has stayed so strong through the years, how he approaches new technology development, and what’s most important for hotel customers.

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The harsh truth is, according to Forbes, 90% of startups fail.

In fact, it’s been said that 96% of businesses don’t survive past 10 years. It’s a sobering thought for anyone hoping to achieve their dreams of running a successful company, but a compelling statistic for the 4% of businesses that do live on. These figures indicate the critical nature every facet of an operation plays in making that business profitable.

SiteMinder is one of the businesses that has overcome the startup mortality rate, smashing through the 10-year barrier late in 2016 and continuing to innovate into 2017.

Any company that stands tall against the pressures of building an infrastructure to last has unique characteristics carrying it forward.

For chief technical officer (CTO), Mike Rogers, SiteMinder’s continued evolution is based on being receptive and responsive to the market environment and its valued customers.

“A lot of it is based on a very clear focus on who our customers are and how we can benefit them. Even though we support businesses from really little properties to huge ones, it’s about how you can create sophisticated products and simplify them,” he says.

“Many of our customers are owner/operators, they’re not technology-oriented people. While guest acquisition is a very important part of running a hotel, it’s only one facet. An owner/operator who’s looking after a 100-room hotel is spending a lot of time on other things, so there has been a relentless focus on ensuring what we deliver to the customers is simple, reliable, and that it actually works!”

A 10-year stretch of service, innovation, and development has garnered some outstanding results for SiteMinder and it doesn’t happen without a strategic foundation. However, Mike says it’s always been about the work, rather than designing grand schemes of profit and growth.

“Obviously we do engage in a lot of strategic planning, nothing’s ad hoc, but we’re very focused on the day-to-day. Our targets and milestones are set around products and tech. How do we continue adding features to existing products, but also how do we add new products to the suite that hotels can actually use to better their business?”

It’s a philosophy that has served SiteMinder, and its customers, well.

With an all-encompassing suite of hotel technology products, distribution and acquisition has never been easier or more lucrative for hotels of all sizes across the world.

While there is always competition, SiteMinder has become a leading provider by being able to transition and adapt as technology moves forward.

“About 10 years ago is when Amazon launched AWS (Amazon Web Services) in its initial form, so our formation kind of coincides with the emergence of mainstream cloud technology”, explains Mike. “Nobody really wanted to do technology such as property management systems in the cloud back then because of connectivity challenges, but obviously internet technology is a lot better now so it’s no big deal. These days most start-ups begin in the cloud and don’t go through that transition. Using cloud technology does fundamentally change a number of things such as the way you approach development and the way things are built.”

Success is very rarely built on self-interest, and SiteMinder is no exception. The company has crafted a platform from the ground up that has an undying focus on delivering huge benefits to hotels, both big and small. According to Mike, it’s this sentiment that has always driven the business forward.

“Being very aware of customers’ needs is vital, empathising with customers is the critical thing. Being connected to the hotels is the only way to understand that there is a problem”, he says. “We didn’t build TheBookingButton to compete with other booking engines, we built it because we knew we could give hotels seamless integration with The Channel Manager and it would actually benefit the hotel. Getting feedback from customers shows us that people are looking for a simple way to do things themselves. A lot of our products are built around ways to save time, but that switches around and becomes a tool that generates revenue, because if you can save time, you can spend time focusing on what’s important.”

To be co-founder and CTO of such a large global company obviously has its stresses. Long hours turn into long days.

“Often, I don’t relax!” He jokes. In reality, it’s his passions that keep him engaged.

“It’s a mixed bag really. I try to spend a lot of time with my young family and I love riding motorbikes so I do a lot of that. Occasionally I go off-roading, which I managed to do just last weekend. I had a big accident a couple of years ago so that put me off for a while. It’s even still fun researching technology – there’s so much interesting stuff out there. That’s probably half the unwinding process. If you really love technology you’re always intrigued by it, it never gets stale”, explains Mike.

This enthusiasm is one major reason SiteMinder goes from strength-to-strength and Mike sees more exciting opportunities emerging all the time.

“There’re a lot of innovative companies out there that can benefit from our technology and platform – people who can utilise the data that we have in the system to generate value to the customer. When we look at our space we don’t look to see how we can control the entire space, we look at how we can connect and leverage other service providers and how we can connect the hotels to them and ultimately drive revenue to the hotels.”

Make sure you tune back in next week for Mike Ford’s unique perspective on why SiteMinder has enjoyed such successful longevity.

 

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