Pinnacle Hotel Management Ditches Manual Budgeting, Forecasting Process for Simpler Solution
In 2003 I walked into a tiny office at the headquarters of Pinnacle Hotel Management. It was my very first day on the job. It was also Pinnacle’s first day of training on their new back office accounting software: Profitvue.
A representative from the software company, Aptech, sat with our small accounting department staff to show us the basics of Profitvue. This hotel-based software was different than the mega software brands I was coming from such as MAS90 and QuickBooks. It was, however, a relatively easy program to learn. I eventually picked up the ins and outs of our hotel management company’s preferences for formatted financial statements and reporting.
One of the challenges we faced was finding that we had to manually create certain custom Pinnacle reports with spreadsheets. This left room for error: and it included our entire budget process. Yes, at one point we actually created all of our budgets using spreadsheets and data uploads. Looking back, it all seems incredibly inefficient, but at that time it worked for our company. Over time, Pinnacle added a budgeting and forecasting platform called Targetvue that integrated with Profitvue. Targetvue allowed us to create budgets and forecasts more easily and effectively.
As Pinnacle grew to 26 properties, it faced different challenges. With new types of ownership groups and the introduction of the 11th Edition Accounting Principles updates, we found that Profitvue and Targetvue were not robust enough for our reporting and analyzing needs. As a management company, we wanted to ensure that we could report and respond to our owners with complete accuracy and in a timely manner. However, at that point in time we could not easily pull information for certain portfolios or properties without again having to manually create reports with spreadsheets. These processes proved to be frustrating and time-consuming.
After careful consideration, we added the web-based Execuvue business intelligence platform to our software suite. With Execuvue, data from both Profitvue and Targetvue are integrated which delivered much more reporting capability. We also worked with Aptech’s team to build specific reports that enabled us to analyze more complex data sets with faster turnaround time.
One report that Pinnacle utilizes the most is the trailing twelve-month trend report (TTM). In the past, to pull one of these reports in Profitvue, each property would have to run numbers individually and export them to Excel or a PDF. With Execuvue we could quickly and easily produce the same results in half the time through the use of drop down menus. Statements can be created for specific time frames and prior years to provide as much or as little detail as needed. In addition, Execuvue reports can combine actual results with budgeted or forecasted data. This is a tremendous help for evaluating financial data.
Aptech also developed several detailed reports for Pinnacle that provide vital statistics such as cost per occupied room, or percentage of room revenue for all expenses. In the past, we would find ourselves sitting in budget review meetings with spreadsheets and Excel files feverishly calculating these amounts on our own. Now, everything is calculated for us with the click of a mouse. This has made our budgeting process flow much smoother.
Another feature of the Execuvue business intelligence software is its ad hoc report building tool. With ad hoc reporting, we can pull our raw data and build a report based on specific criteria. For instance, we can create a report showing all room revenues for a certain time frame (day, month, quarter, year) and sort it by brand, ownership group, or even by the regional director who oversees the properties. This is not limited to room revenue. For instance, I received a request from one of our executives wanting to see the year-to-date cost per occupied room for guest supplies for all of our Residence Inn properties. I easily pulled a report together in minutes that shows the information so that he could compare and share the information with his team members.
After 14 years in the hotel industry I have seen an incredible evolution in the business intelligence we utilize. Transitioning from basic financial statements to much more detailed variance and analytical reports has had a very positive influence on how we manage and operate our properties. As a company, I can say with certainty that we now make much better decisions when it comes to budgeting and forecasting because of our willingness to adopt new business intelligence solutions.