CMO50 2022 #19: Mark Renshaw

  • Name Mark Renshaw
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company SiteMinder
  • Commenced role December 2018
  • Reporting Line CEO and MD
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 55 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Information technology
  • 2021 ranking 26-50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Mark Renshaw is a big believer in using data for decision making. But to suggest this is all he bases his moves on as a global chief marketing officer would be one-sided.

    “I believe in insights which are not just data or facts, they are new ways to look at something you may already be familiar with,” he comments. “So I would say find the insights which can sometimes be informed by data, but are more than just data or gut, they live somewhere in between where you get excited and nervous at the same time.”

    Data-driven maturity

    There’s no doubt Renshaw draws on his experience with B2B and B2C brands as well as SaaS marketing to develop and grow data-led marketing strategies for SiteMinder. The Australian-based tech company boasts of the world’s leading open hotel commerce platform, serving almost 35,000 hotels in 150 countries.

    “Our customers are operating 24/7, selling and marketing their hotels, rooms and rates globally,” he says. “Everything we do within our product must build trust. Therefore we only ever use customer data in a way that creates programs and insights that add value back to our clients.”

    This approach is reflected in the practical application of vast amounts of hotel bookings data at SiteMinder’s disposal. In 2021, the business debuted the World Hotel Index, a free, opensource data aggregation service on SiteMinder’s website generating real-time data for hotel operators to see booking trends in their regions. It was a direct response to the hotel industry being one of worst hit and most negatively disrupted of all sectors as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.

    Renshaw and his team continued to develop this engagement approach in 2022. Shoehorning data into various content marketing, social media and public relations efforts, the ambition has been to help keep customers, prospects and the wider market abreast of changing hotel occupancy rates in global cities.

    “It has evolved as a core backbone to the strategic business overall, especially how the marketing team engages with customers on a level locally relevant as well as at scale,” he says.

    This became more pertinent than ever during 2021/2022 as the dynamic and changing situations with Covid-19 globally saw drastically different seasonalities and trends emerge. “We made the data work harder for SiteMinder’s marketing, not just on a city-to-city basis, but microtargeting individual suburbs/towns,” Renshaw explains. “Through the use of new targeting methods, marketing’s tactical approach to pull in potential customers reached new segments using data relevant to their specific businesses and regions.”

    Innovative marketing

    Underpinning such work is an intent to reframe how the marketing industry perceives B2B marketing. “Yes, SiteMinder sells software to businesses,” Renshaw says.

    “But we don’t want to be held to the conventions of B2B marketing, because everything we do at SiteMinder smacks of modern technology-driven marketing. It makes for an outstanding training ground for my team to learn how marketing works across the entire customer journey.”

    Key is having the marketing and product teams work very closely together to create a whole new customer experience. So Renshaw pioneered an idea the two functions work together as one entity. As an alumnus of Leo Burnett, most recently as its global chief digital and innovation officer based in Chicago, Renshaw quotes Burnett himself: “The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising… is believability, and nothing is more believable than the product itself.”

    In this vein, SiteMinder opened up one of its key products in July by overhauling go-to-market strategy via digital sign ups and making its mobile app even more powerful. The launch of Little Hotelier Basics (LHB), SiteMinder’s offering for small or boutique hotel properties, has undergone a transformation from traditional B2B sales model to include a new digital acquisition, ecommerce channel.

    Renshaw and the marketing team collaborated with product on how to get customers into the sign-up process, removing as much friction as possible. This was integral to reducing customer onboarding from weeks down to 15 minutes. The result is a mobile app creating an entirely new way for customers to run their hotels. Since relaunch, reviews of the mobile app have increased from 3.5 stars to 4.25 stars.

    Business smarts

    Despite the many setbacks the pandemic presented the travel sector, Renshaw and his team have continued to lead global marketing from Australia while reshaping the strategic agenda of SiteMinder’s business. This included ramping up investment in the SiteMinder brand and a doubling down on supporting customers.

    Despite years’ worth of total closures of some businesses, such efforts ensured churn was kept to under 10 per cent during this time. Customer retention has since stabilised to pre-Covid levels.

    “SiteMinder didn’t experience a downturn as might be reasonably expected, but rather accelerated growth and an increase in revenue per existing customer during 2021/2022, because marketing was able to demonstrate true support and value add for customers,” Renshaw says.

    Success culminated in SiteMinder’s listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in November 2021 with a market capitalisation of $1.36 billion, placing it just outside the ASX200 at listing.

    As a member of the executive team, Mark was deeply involved. For example, there had been a desire to rebrand SiteMinder for quite some time prior to the listing. However, once the pandemic hit, he deemed it inappropriate timing and instead re-prioritised attention to supporting SiteMinder’s customers, adapting content marketing and customer engagement strategies accordingly.

    When most travel markets reopened in October 2021, emphasis switched back to conducting the rebrand entirely in-house.

    “It was time to tell the new story of SiteMinder; no longer a single product solution in the channel management category, but instead, a complete and open platform for hotel commerce,” Renshaw says. “It signalled an industry-first redefinition of the category of hotel commerce – a category SiteMinder created but done so in a way to reduce the impact of commoditisation of specific product solutions/features.”

    Customer-led thinking

    Overall, uptake of SiteMinder’s transaction products including SiteMinder Pay, Demand Plus and Global Distribution System increased 51 per cent year-on-year, showing existing customers are using more of its services.

    Redefining the customer advocacy program has been critical in this journey. Renshaw says one of the clearest indicators he’s delivering positive customer outcomes is affirmation through customer advocacy. Throughout 2021/2022, the team embraced new ways of profiling customers and engaging with them directly.

    The result in January 2022 was SiteMinder earning a number of major accolades at the 2022 HotelTechAwards. The vendor was awarded the 2022 People’s Choice Award for its customer centricity, as well as Best Marketplace and Integrator, Best Channel Manager, Best Booking Engine, and the most coveted of awards, the People’s Choice.

    As another means of expanding the footprint among customers and late-stage prospects was launching SiteMinder Sync in April 2022, the company’s first virtual, global conference and the first of its kind in the hotel technology sector. Thousands of attendees from 150 countries tuned in to hear about the next-generation platform launch.

    “Sync is ‘the world’s biggest customer focus group’. We wanted as many partners and customers as possible engaging with SiteMinder’s teams globally, on a level of interactivity that cannot be achieved at traditional trade shows,” Renshaw says.

    Commercial acumen

    Renshaw’ redefinition of SiteMinder’s category from channel management to hotel commerce represented a massive inflection point in marketing’s contribution to commercial outcomes.

    “Fundamentally, it ensured what SiteMinder does doesn’t get commoditised. It also paved the way for SiteMinder’s marketing function to be seen as technology marketing, doing dynamic and innovative work across a customer lifecycle that borrows aspects from B2B, B2C, and into the SaaS category,” he says.

    Results include retaining customers during Covid-19 disruptions and increasing usage of new products by 51 per cent; growing customer subscribers by 7 per cent through expansion of traditional and digital sales channels; and growing overall Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) by 25.3 per cent year-on-year to $129.7 million. The SaaS economics were also improved with an LTV/CAC increase from 2.1x in FY21 to 3.2x in FY22.

    “From driving new customers, retaining existing customers, expansion of the partner network, and increasing usage of new services, marketing has played a direct and overall halo role in delivering outcomes that exceeded market expectations,” Renshaw says.

    Renshaw’s contribution to commercial and growth outcomes is now recognised at the highest levels within SiteMinder. CEO and managing director, Sankar Narayan, recalls the day Mark came into his office with the idea to start referring to SiteMinder as ‘a complete and open platform for hotel commerce’.

    “It was only a matter of hours before I was starting to use this new language to reframe what we do and add it to my presentations,” Narayan states.

    Leadership impact

    All this has been done while onboarding new recruits remotely and maintaining and exceeding expectations of team culture during the pandemic. Ways of working have changed as Renshaw shifted the global and local marketing model across 20 key countries in all regions across the globe.

    “We’ve seen success in operating within SiteMinder’s open working policy, bringing team into the office once per week for dedicated collaboration sessions and social events while maintaining total flexibility over workplace location,” he says.

    The fast growth of the team also resulted in marketing’s ‘Better Working Together’ initiative, covering off a collaborative understanding of priorities, communication standards and technology across the team. Embedded in this is the acknowledgment a growing global team doesn’t necessarily work in the same way as a smaller local team, Renshaw says.

    Renshaw’s ultimate aim is to build a training ground not just for B2B marketers, but for the best marketers across the entire customer lifecycle.

    “If we can orchestrate our strategy towards technology marketing, rather than B2B marketing, then my team gets brand new insights into the customer journey, and can operate in real-time, data-driven ways,” he concludes. “It means we can do amazing marketing across the entire lifecycle, which is an awesome opportunity for development and upskilling.”

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