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Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Puts Data Gathering & Consolidation Online for 200+ Profit Centers

For more than a century, the name "Hershey" has rivaled Mom's apple pie as an icon of American culture. But chocolate-making was just one of entrepreneur Milton S. Hershey's business pursuits.

Beginning with Hersheypark, an amusement site originally created for chocolate-factory workers and their families that developed entertainment and lodging that transformed Hershey, "The Sweetest Place On Earth," into a renowned travel destination.

Today, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (HE&R) is an industry leader catering to year-round leisure guests and business travelers seeking experiences that range from family amusement park attractions, the famous "Chocolate Spa," championship golf, and first-class accommodations for business conferences and corporate events.

Vital to the company's success is a powerful web-based business intelligence system (BI) that tracks revenue, expenses, and other performance data across 200+ profit centers. William H. Sheaffer, managing director of information technology for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, explains: "We rely on a BI system called Execuvue from Aptech Computer Systems to produce the 'real numbers' for our management decisions. Execuvue interfaces with systems at all our outlets, gathers the data, and delivers flash reports and other performance reporting to our general managers and financial analysts each day."
Even a partial listing of Hershey profit centers illustrates the data-tracking challenges presented by the booming full-service resort. The company's enterprises include The Hotel Hershey, a European-style grand hotel with 278 rooms and suites, including 10 new guest cottages and a luxury spa. Additionally, Hershey Lodge is recognized as "Pennsylvania's Largest Convention Resort" with a total of 665 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of function space.

Company executives also oversee 118 food and beverage outlets and more than 60 retail stores, as well as ticket sales from the amusement park, stadium, arena concerts, sporting events, ice shows, and hockey games along with campgrounds, cabins, and public and private golf courses. In the past, Hershey's team was responsible for gathering, combining and formatting revenue data from each outlet at the end of every business day -- a daunting task.

"Execuvue's automated data gathering represents a tremendous leap forward in our operating efficiency and is a major improvement in how we present our performance data," says Sheaffer. "Our BI system eliminated the time and labor-intensive process of manual data entry for rooms, ticket sales, food, and merchandise sales; and the reams of other information our operations generate. Today the Execuvue BI automatically collects all our data from all outlets." The system also generates performance information so HE&R has consistent, standardized reporting with all the company's information in one data warehouse on a web platform that the company hosts.

"Execuvue generates reports that combine data from all our separate point-of-sale and property-management systems," says Sheaffer. "Our executive team can access consolidated data that provides a clear picture of our company's performance every morning. Having all of our data in one place also helps us with enterprise resource planning and forecasting based on historical metrics."

Sheaffer notes that Aptech, its BI provider, is a hospitality industry specialist, which proved an advantage during its complex system implementation. "The professionalism and industry experience of Aptech's installation and support teams helped us refine our processes to address our company's unique business environment. Their staff also worked with us on reconciliation of cash and ticket allocation for Hershey Park." Hershey has several hundred different ticket types and the company uses Execuvue to analyze ticket sales according to factors such as day of the week, season, and whether tickets are sold to adults or children. "Our BI system shows where our revenue is generated across all of our profit centers, which is invaluable in developing effective promotions for specific target audiences."

With Phase One of implementation complete, concludes Sheaffer, the company now plans to put Execuvue to use as a budget analysis tool.

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