Case study

With growth on the horizon, hospitality company focuses on process integration

Aimbridge Hospitality leverages automation and timely advice to plan for success

Feb 07, 2023
Customer experience
Innovation Data & digital services Digital transformation Real estate

Middle market companies have several avenues for expansion, from organic growth to mergers and acquisitions. However, many of these initiatives can easily lead to inefficient business processes if integration is not a key focus of growth plans.

Aimbridge Hospitality is a leading, global hospitality company that offers hotel management services across a broad spectrum of properties, from franchised branded full-service, select service, luxury hotels, destination resorts, convention centers and lifestyle hotels. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Aimbridge has grown from eight properties when the company was founded in 2003 to over 1,500 properties in all 50 states and over 20 countries today. 

Aimbridge identified the need to effectively integrate processes across the organization when transactions took place. Integration became more of a priority when a global private equity company acquired a majority stake in Aimbridge in early 2019, which launched a concerted effort to streamline processes and invest in new technologies.

“Part of the journey we've been on is thinking differently, and looking at the way we perform our service,” said Drew Leavitt, Aimbridge’s senior vice president and corporate controller. “To say, ‘Is there a better way? Is there a more strategic way where we can isolate pockets of functions and streamline that process, use technology to fuel the fire, and create a more cohesive and efficient process?’”

A plan to address integration challenges

Aimbridge leadership zeroed in on robotic process automation as a key element of its new technology approach. It was the first step in seeking to gain efficiencies across the organization by automating transactional tasks and enabling employees to focus on more value-added functions.

RSM assisted Aimbridge in optimizing the processes and data that enable the technology to deliver maximum benefit and return on investment. Additionally, RSM showcased the power of leveraging fit-for-purpose technology solutions combined with RPA. Consequently, RSM led Aimbridge through an independent review of its people, processes and technology and identified areas for process integration in addition to recommending the company leverage some of its existing technology and adopt RPA.

“When we started phase one,” said RSM Director Jacob Hulsey, “we identified the company had as many as four or five processes that were working toward the same goal, which is not uncommon.”

During the initial analysis, RSM identified multiple process improvement areas and then suggested implementing the Automation Anywhere RPA platform to increase efficiency within several previously manual tasks within the company.

Beyond the increased efficiency gained from automation, RSM’s review uncovered additional integration opportunities within Aimbridge’s core financial processes. RSM recommended optimizing and expanding the use of the cloud-based BlackLine accounting solution to bring more automation and efficiency to the company’s finance and accounting functions.

For example, Aimbridge had conducted manual bank reconciliations in the past, which was time-consuming and presented several challenges. However, with reconciliations now conducted within BlackLine, the software automatically imports and compares data while identifying discrepancies that staff now have more time to evaluate.

All told, RSM developed a tailored technology approach and methodology for Aimbridge that is flexible and adaptable to account for an ever-changing business environment. The RSM team helped the company develop a long-term vision of strategy and financial considerations. The company now has reduced costs and saved time through budget reductions in multiple areas of the business.

The importance of these technologies and the partnership with RSM provides a process that we can easily integrate with new properties. So it’s not just a solution for today, it’s a solution for years to come.
Drew Leavitt, Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller, Aimbridge Hospitality

Continuous improvement amid significant change

During shutdowns and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry was particularly hard hit. However, Aimbridge’s new technology solutions demonstrated value when cost-cutting was needed by streamlining many of the areas where the company faced challenges.   

“The project has morphed over time,” said RSM Principal Ana Minter. “By building such strong relationships, they know they can reach out and we can get things done quickly for them.”

The road ahead

Historically, the real estate and hospitality industries have been slow to adopt new technology. But as Aimbridge developed a growth strategy, it was quick to identify how technology investments could support the increased reach and value of the company.

Aimbridge and RSM continue working together on a digital transformation strategy throughout the company, with solutions under discussion from revenue management to procurement.

“There's a lot of work yet to be done, but we've made a lot of strides these last few months,” said Michelle Reitan, Aimbridge’s senior vice president of shared services. “The RSM team has been instrumental with their recommendations, additional resources, and the understanding and knowledge that they bring to the table.”