Park Plaza Hotels Europe B.V.
Management information is readily accessible thanks to Board
Park Plaza is the owner, operator and franchisor of hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Founded in 1989, the company employs 2,600 people and reached achieved a turnover of £325 million in 2017. The group comprises of 39 properties with over 9,000 guest rooms.
A Threeway Challenge
Park Plaza stores the information needed for management reporting in different systems. Room reservations, food & beverage revenues and staff planning are stored in Opera, and consolidated financial data is held in SAP BPC. While SAP was fine for financial reporting, it lacked the ease-of-use needed for management reporting. Being listed on the stock exchange, Park Plaza is required to provide financial reports to shareholders and investors and setting the right authorizations on this sensitive information to create management reports proved to be a challenge.
There was also a challenge relating to two large Park Plaza hotels in London which are financed in a special way: investors have purchased rooms at the new Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel and the Park Plaza County Hall hotel.
"We are required to inform room owners monthly about the profit and loss of their individual rooms. Their return on investment is based on the profitability of their rooms," said Abraham Thomas, Vice President Finance & Control.
From Application to Technology
In 2009, Park Plaza discussed these challenges with one of Board International's partners, which had previously implemented their SAP BPC system.
"The first step was to get a good understanding of Park Plaza's needs and requirements," explained the partner. "The key question was around the information needs of managers at different levels in relation to regions, hotels, occupancy and revenue in different market segments. Furthermore, there was a clear need for benchmarking between hotels and regions. And last but not least, the London hotels needed a profit and loss account at room level. From a technology point of view we proposed to use Board's CPM software solution. The Board toolkit enables the rapid development of management reports and provides seamless integration with SAP BPC and other information sources, like text files and Excel spreadsheets."
Fast Implementation, Training-On-The-Job
Only a few weeks after the first meeting, the partner presented a proof-of-concept of the proposed solution - Board. The partner was engaged and the project delivered in less than three months.
"The short time for development can be explained by the fact that the Board toolkit doesn't require any programming," comments the partner. "The tool requires no scripting and ensures a structured approach to development. During the project we trained a key user and introduced the solution to regional and hotel managers."
Fullscale Solution, Graphics, Ease-Of-Use
Since the project go-live, managers can view every aspect of their business through the use of dashboards. They can analyze operational and personnel costs, cumulative or periodic revenues per market segment, and the actual or average room occupancy. By using colours in dashboards and charts, the score on key performance indicators is clear at a glance. Managers can benchmark their performance against the performance of other hotels and regions and also perform trend analyses.
At the group level, Board provides all the information that is needed to manage the performance of the group as a whole. The London hotels can now send out profit & loss accounts to their investors very easily, and even import the numbers into the bookkeeping system for further handling and payment.
End Results and Future Plans
Board has been well-received by users and is delivering a great increase in efficiency, as Derek Bock, Controller, explains:
"During the monthly management reviews we now have the undisputed numbers available. Also, Park Plaza management can create their own reports without much effort. In the future we intend to use Board for planning, budgeting and forecasting. One of the possible applications is to analyze what-if scenarios for room occupancy in relation to weather conditions, or whether or not to organize certain events for groups of guests. At the group level we have all the figures available to support decisions about the purchase of new hotels."
Thomas summarizes his experience with Board:
"The partner delivered a solution that exceeds our expectations with regard to ease-of-use and flexibility."