SiteMinder (ASX:SDR) CEO Sankar Narayan says his company’s debut was very pleasing and hopes it’ll lead to more tech companies listing… but for his company it’s now back to business as usual.

The open hotel commerce platform was one of Australia’s so-called “tech unicorns” being worth over $1 billion at a private valuation.

In a nutshell it has technology that has enables booking websites Wotif and Hotels Combined, making it easier for hotels of all sizes to streamline all these distribution channels.

SiteMinder went to IPO with a valuation of $1.36 billion. It not only held its ground but gained on that by nearly 50% in its first two trading days.

Narayan is no stranger to either the tech or travel industries, having been an executive at Xero (ASX:XRO) and Virgin Australia.

He has been with SiteMinder for nearly three years now and says the IPO was a little different to private capital raisings in that there’s more liquidity and more investors – the same principals of obtaining the right investors and having them onboard for the long term were equally applicable.

“It’s very pleasing, it’s more than the share price but I am pleased with the quality of investors,” Narayan told Stockhead.

“It [IPO’ing] is different because a lot of investors do not have ability to invest in the private domain because of limitations, but the basis of investment are the same whether public or private as long as you have the right investors.

“In the private domain there is discussion around alignment to make sure that the shareholders coming in are aligned to the long term growth of the company because they don’t have liquidity later on.

“The listing should not change our approach as we’ve been on the growth journey we’ve been in the last few years and before.

“We’ve been on a journey to grow our footprint and expand our services. I don’t see it should materially change and we were keen to have the right investors who are able to look at the business on a 3 to 5-year horizon, so getting the right investors is so important for long term success of the company.”


‘When we say global we mean global’

Narayan explained SiteMinder was founded 15 years ago with one product aimed to keep life simple for hotel property owners.

“Since then we’ve grown on a global basis; from a product perspective we expanded our platform,” he said.

“When we say global we mean we’re global in every part of the world in terms of our customers.

“So that is what really makes us special apart from having a platform that is so well regarded in the hotel technology space.”

While COVID-19 was a tough time for the travel industry, Narayan says his company has fared the turbulence well.

“Everybody’s been impacted by COVID,” he said.

“In early days when it was more uncertain we feared that this could be something much different to what anyone had seen in our lifetimes, we had to make difficult choices as we did early on but the company has also supported our customer base.

“We had new tools we launched to help them understand what the local environment was because we had to rewrite the playbooks. No one had seen disruption before.

“What we found later on is we weathered the storm better than most in the space. It’s a great show of resilience by the business in how well we have fared… We focused in providing additional value to our customers for the period and it has showed in our results.”


SiteMinder eagerly awaiting re-opening of travel

Nonetheless, SiteMinder is looking forward to Australia and the Asia-Pacific region following North America and Europe in re-opening – and doing so in a manner that travellers may have confidence.

“We are looking forward to re-opening, Europe travelled well during European summer, North America has been open for a while – looking forward to Asia, they’ve been impacted more than other regions,” Narayan said.

“But we have confidence with medical advances through vaccinations and treatment options that have emerged recently.

“It gives everyone in the industry comfort about re-opening of travel market. We look forward to the time when we all can travel.”

Narayan is also looking forward to more tech unicorns coming to the ASX and foreign investors to chip into them.

“I’ve taken this journey now twice in different roles but in a similar space… I’m strong believer in Australian capital markets being able to support tech investment,” he said.

“And I’m also a a strong believer in overseas investors having the confidence to invest in Australian tech in the local capital markets due to the transparency and governance required of companies on the ASX.

“So I’m a strong advocate and am feeling positive about companies having a life on the ASX that supports and appreciates homegrown companies with a global outlook. I am a strong supporter of that.”