Interview: James Bishop on the Groundbreaking SiteMinder Exchange

March 26, 2019, 08:39 AM EDT

Let’s kick off by saying thank you for doing this interview with Sirvoy. We’re sure the majority of our readers will be familiar with SiteMinder but perhaps you can tell us a little bit about yourself and what your job involves?

I started my career 20 years ago in hotels, and I love the industry and will always be grateful for the fantastic introduction to outstanding service I received during my time training in hotels in the UK. I have always had a passion for technology, however, so when an opportunity arose to work in that field, but also work in hospitality, I went for it. I have since worked within the hospitality technology space with various PMS, EPOS, CRM and CRS solutions. It’s a perfect hybrid for me. 

I’ve been part of the SiteMinder disruption since 2012 and have spent the last seven years bringing hoteliers closer to their guests through technology. Today my role sees me working with hotel technology partners globally to increase demand for hotels and to improve the connectivity solutions available for the industry more broadly.

How many hotels are currently signed up to SiteMinder globally?

More than 30,000.

What was the aim of SiteMinder Exchange and what kind of take up have you seen since the June launch?

We launched SiteMinder Exchange to address one of the most notorious barriers to hotel technology innovation and that is connectivity. SiteMinder Exchange is a powerfully-simple solution that solves the connectivity problem for hotel property management systems (PMSs) like Sirvoy, and hotel applications everywhere, and we’ve been quite overwhelmed at the response and the support we’ve received from technology partners and hoteliers alike. The response has been very telling of how important this is.

From a few dozen in June, SiteMinder Exchange has now attracted more than 100 PMSs and hotel applications – ranging from CRMs like Guestfolio and Revinate, to upselling tools like Oaky, revenue management systems like Pace, and guest feedback platforms like TrustYou – and many more are in development as we speak.

Other companies are creating hubs or marketplaces to integrate different services required by the hospitality industry. In what way is SiteMinder Exchange different?

Hotel applications pay no upfront cost to be integrated; instead, they subscribe to a low monthly fee for each hotel property that chooses to have that application connected to their PMS. The solution is free for PMSs and hotels, which is important in an industry that has traditionally been slow to adopt technology because of the fear of risk or, simply, change.

Additionally, connections have always been at the heart of what we do at SiteMinder, whether that has been connecting hotels to the online world and to their guests, or connecting hotel technology providers with hotels and with each other. Our role is central to the entire travel ecosystem. So, as we look at SiteMinder Exchange, we are fortunate to be able to leverage the existing relationships we have with over 250 PMSs worldwide, and the learnings we’ve gained over many years of creating practical solutions that ease the burden of building point-to-point connections. It’s this position that ultimately sets us apart and makes it difficult for others to replicate.

What effects do you think SiteMinder Exchange will have on the hospitality industry long term?

Fundamentally, SiteMinder Exchange has broken down the integration barrier for creators of hotel technology. In doing so, it’s brought all of us within the industry one step closer to achieving our shared vision, which is helping hoteliers to access the integrated setup and rich guest insights they need to make their hotel business successful.

What’s the SiteMinder company motto?

We exist to unleash the potential of every hotel.

…SiteMinder Exchange has broken down the integration barrier for creators of hotel technology.

Where do you see the hospitality industry in five years?

In the next five years, I would expect to see the continued emergence of new players that will attempt to disrupt the status quo at the top end of the online reservations space. And, I expect – or, rather, hope – that those attempts will be opportunities to reduce the cost of acquisition for hotels as the competition in this space increases.

I anticipate we will see further emphasis on the experience and personalisation of the guest journey, especially pre-booking and at check-in – and, with that, more and more tools for hotels to maximise their potential and compete for guests earlier in the funnel.

The categorisation of hotel technology vendors will become increasingly blurred, as it has been for some time now, with hoteliers being able to access multiple applications that provide holistic solutions from a single platform. The obsession with data will only grow from here, specifically consolidation of data from all touchpoints, into a single database, to give hoteliers the ability to cut and understand their data in ways that weren’t possible previously.

There are changes, threats and innovation happening right across the hospitality spectrum that I suspect will take a little bit more time to make their impact felt. So, I’m looking forward to the next five years, and the opportunities and challenges that this will bring to all of us in this industry.

As a fully integrated SiteMinder Premium Partner, Sirvoy can help hoteliers everywhere to better manage their room distribution and increase their revenue.