Existing shareholders AustralianSuper and BlackRock have led a $100 million pre-IPO funding round for Sydney-based open hotel commerce platform SiteMinder in which global investment and asset management business Fidelity International has become a new investor.

The capital was raised as SiteMinder demonstrated strong resilience to the disruption to the global travel industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other existing shareholders Ellerston Capital, Pendal Group (ASX: PDL) and Washington H. Soul Pattinson (ASX: SOL), all of whom had previously invested prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (APE&VCJ, Feb 2020) made new investments in the round. The capital raise confirmed SiteMinder’s pre-COVID-19 unicorn valuation of more than $1 billion.

Early investors including Les Szekely of Grand Prix Capital and Equity Venture Partners, who invested at seed stage, Bailador Technology Investments (ASX: BTI) and US-based growth capital firm TCV retained their stakes in SiteMinder.

Announcing the capital raise on 14 September, SiteMinder said through the 2021 financial year it had sustained revenue of more than $100 million, achieved a 40% increase in the number of customers using its payments and other transaction-based products while experiencing revenue decline of less than 6% in constant currency terms.

Chief executive Sankar Narayan said: “It is fantastic to welcome Fidelity International as another respected global investor to SiteMinder’s already strong cast of shareholders, whose support of our business has not wavered over the past 18 months. We thank all our shareholders for their ongoing trust as we continue to perform against an evolving industry backdrop.”

SiteMinder platform developments over the last 18 months have included:

  • Growth of its metasearch and hotel payments programs Demand Plus and SiteMinder Pay through the May 2021 additions of trivago and the capability for hotels to process guest payments from within SiteMinder’s platform. Demand Plus and SiteMinder Pay have experienced higher adoption rates than any of SiteMinder’s other offerings in the last year.
  • Trial of a new digital acquisition strategy for small hotel operators, to complement SiteMinders existing go-to-market models.
  • May 2021 launch of SiteMinder Multi-Property, a product designed to simplify the complexity involved with distribution of hotel chains and groups. One early adopter of SiteMinder Multi-Property reported reducing operational inefficiencies from as much as 160 hours to as little as five minutes, while another reported a newfound ability to refocus the time of ten hotel staff. 
  • Introduction of the SiteMinder Partner Program in November 2020 which recently signed its 500th member and brought SiteMinder’s total ecosystem to more than 1300 partners worldwide.
  • April 2020 launch of the World Hotel Index, a publicly available tool sourcing data from the hotels and 400 hotel booking channels globally connected to SiteMinder, to allow hotel operators to see trends in their countries and regions.

Narayan said: “We have maintained high levels of engagement with customers and partners to deliver consistently strong business performance and demonstrate SiteMinder’s resilience during these difficult industry conditions. Out continued investment in expanding our product suite puts us in a strong position to benefit from the recovery in travel which we are beginning to see, particularly in the many travel markets where bookings are bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels.”

AustralianSuper senior portfolio manager George Batsakis said the super fund had participated in SiteMinder’s January 2020 $100 million capital raising when there had been no way of foreseeing the events that were shortly to affect the company.

“What we have seen is SiteMinder show tremendous agility, resilience and innovation, particularly as the needs of their customers and partners have rapidly shifted,” he said. “The unprecedented impacts of the last 18 months have proven the importance of easy-to-use technology platforms for hotels, and we are pleased to be growing our support for SiteMinder as the company continues to provide these much-needed services to support its customers.”

While SiteMinder described the fund raise as a “pre-IPO” round, it gave no indication of when it might seek its long-anticipated listing on the ASX.

Image: SiteMinder chief executive Sankar Narayan.