It’s been 12 years since we first expanded beyond Australia’s shores, and as part of our 15th birthday celebrations, we connected with some of the key individuals who have helped define our global story and build SiteMinder’s brand around the globe.
Brendon has overseen the growth of SiteMinder in London from a small, unbranded office of four people to an entire floor of over 100, who he proudly describes as “the best people you could hope to work with”.
Recalling the early days taking on much bigger and more established competitors, Brendon says: “Here was this scrappy underdog from Down Under, competing and winning sizeable deals because our tech, sales, onboarding and support teams were just that good.”
However, nothing worth doing is easy. “The distance and timezone difference with the mothership made communication challenging, particularly around Product and Support,” Brendon highlights. But, as they say, necessity is the mother of all creation, and Brendon explains that “this also gave us focus, since we had to distill our questions – no time to waffle on a 6am or 10pm call”.
Having cracked one of the most competitive markets on earth in London, we asked Brendon for his advice to others seeking to emulate this around the world. His answer is telling of the never say die attitude that helped him – and SiteMinder – take London by storm: “Don’t underestimate the scope of the challenge, and then be persistent and tenacious.”
Lisa left Sydney in 2010 to return home to her native South Africa, and start selling SiteMinder to the local hotel industry.
Her biggest challenge was the need to convince hotels of the need for “diverse online visibility in order to reach and attract guests from all over the world”, and to use SiteMinder to “quickly and efficiently manage all these online channels, while also taking online bookings directly”.
Ten years later, we can safely say Lisa has had a huge impact on all those around her in this regard! Among her proudest achievements, Lisa lists the 2013 signing with prestigious hotel group Sun International. “It has really been such an honour and a pleasure to work with them and provide technology to help them to manage and grow their online revenue,” she explains.
Lisa’s top tip for the changemakers seeking to build a brand in a new location is unequivocal: “Be there! Show up. Network. Be on the ground, be accountable and build those relationships.”
When asked why people should visit South Africa, Lisa’s passion for her country shines through. “It is such an amazing, diverse, unique and unbelievable country with so many things to see and do.”
Maneenil was one of the founding members of our Bangkok office, which started with two people, and over the past eight years has grown and matured into our Asia headquarters of over 40.
“Early on, when contacting hotels, we struggled. Being a brand new company in Thailand, we didn’t have a lot of market presence, and hotels would often ask if we were trustworthy and if we had offices located in Thailand. I remember having calls where people wouldn’t even be able to pronounce our name. We got things like Sliminder and Spyminder,” Maneenil recounts. “Building the brand into the position where a huge part of the market uses our products has been an amazing journey.”
A wealth of experience, Maneenil is happy to share some words of wisdom with anyone seeking to establish a brand in uncharted territory: “You should know your products first and then study the market by doing some research, talking to people in the field and securing relevant information. Go to conferences and network and keep an eye on competitors, to know how you compare.”
Cassie has had a pivotal role in our growth in Dallas, Texas, from a small temporary office of five people in 2014 to around 100 currently, with a supporting office in Austin.
Inspired by the SiteMinder vision, Cassie evokes the hard work, long hours and fast pace required to build the U.S. office: “Change was a constant, and something that we embraced. Some things we could replicate from other regions, but others we had to build from scratch.” She adds: “Our Dallas office is what it is today as a result of all the collaboration and willingness of our teams to dig in, see the goal at the end of the road and work together to get there.”
Asked about the secret to success in a new region, Cassie emphasises the importance of hiring: “If you can hire the right people for the right roles, you can go at a much greater speed as a business.”
Galway, 2016: Evy Pérez
Evy joined SiteMinder’s Galway office in the summer of 2016, and has seen it grow from 10 employees to around 100. She is rightly proud of the vital part she’s played in establishing “knowledgeable, high-performing teams that make continuous contributions to the organisation”.
Citing the challenges and the rewarding feeling of being a key part of this awesome story, Evy reflects on the hard work required to prosper in a new market. She adds: “Back then, we were setting up a brand new office, new teams, establishing a new culture that would be a reflection of our Sydney office, but in Europe, creating new processes that were missing, all while going on with the day-to-day of the business.”
Evy’s recommendation for go-getters seeking to burst onto a new scene is valuable and to the point: “Do your market research. Get to understand every single aspect of the market and make a plan based on the data obtained about how you are going to penetrate it and face any constraints.”
She also recommends that everyone reading this visits the Emerald Isle, with a short yet captivating description: “It is said that Ireland heals the soul.”
Since Clemens’ arrival in Berlin in early 2020, after spending years in our London office, he has helped to drive SiteMinder’s growth in continental Europe from no in-market sales presence to a team of more than 10, mostly based in the city of Berlin, and an office of almost 20.
He underscores that “the team enjoys what they are doing, they are growing every day and feel supported, which, all together contributes to a good morale”.
This is despite the unique challenges which he and our other Berlin pioneers had to overcome, with a global pandemic hitting just weeks after the office was established, and the resulting effects on the travel industry and in-person working. Clemens states: “In a very short period of time we had to go fully remote, changing our approach entirely from hiring to team collaboration.”
However, it was the trademark SiteMinder tenacity that got the team through and helped the Berlin office grow in the face of unprecedented challenges. Clemens adds: “Looking back at when the pandemic first hit, contrary to many others and no matter how big the obstacles appeared at first, we stayed true to our commitment to build a local team and have a presence in-market.” This experience has instilled in Clemens the importance of being prepared for anything, whilst staying positive.
His insight for groundbreakers trying to ace a new market is: “Expect Murphy’s law to apply, learn quickly and adapt to what works. Celebrate progress, even when small, and never lose sight of your overall goals and vision.”