Aeon Plaza Hotels
Rich history versus Dutch Design. 'Investing in Statler is a step forward'
Rich history versus Dutch Design
'Investing in Statler is a step forward'
One chain, two unique hotels. The legendary Hotel Die Port van Cleve in the heart of Amsterdam, a beacon of hospitality since 1870. And the stylish Dutch Design Hotel Artemis near Schiphol, where art and luxury meet. They both fall under the Aeon Plaza Hotels flag. Statler entered the company in mid-2021. Thanks to clear reporting, they are 'closer on the ball'. Financial Manager Vincent Ruiter is happy with this step.
Normally, his finance team focuses on the numbers. But these are 'crazy times', says Ruiter. He recently worked a night shift; other colleagues took care of breakfast or reception duties. Forced multi-tasking thanks to corona. 'But it also produces something powerful: better insight, mutual understanding, and a good atmosphere.' Aeon Plaza Hotels cut temporary workers' costs, but managed to keep the permanent staff. 'We put our shoulders to the wheel together, real teamwork at all levels. We will need everyone when we are allowed to run at full capacity again.'
Despite these 'crazy times' and even 'crazier numbers', Ruiter dared to make substantial investments in hotel software. A new PMS system was on his wish list. 'It remains exciting to switch to a new database. Everything now revolves around links, so it's a lot of work. For this, we made our own Daily in Excel, which is a very laborious task.' So Ruiter also started looking for additional software for his financial management. He ended up with Statler through his ICT partner. 'We had some conversations to see if there was any chemistry between us. And yes, I had a good feeling about it right away. Owners Stefan and Maarten come from this industry. They know what they are talking about and share their thoughts with us.'
Not letting a second go to waste
In the meantime, Statler is now up and running at Aeon Plaza Hotels. The implementation meant transferring a lot of data and ensuring that systems 'talk' to each other. 'Statler reports what is available, so we also had a lot of homework to do ourselves. By the way, we have received a lot of assistance with that. Stefan has provided us with tips to create the right structure in our cost centers. The Food & Beverage and Rooms departments have been further split up. In this way, we could also configure the Daily according to our wish list. For example, the turnover for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for example, are reported separately. And a big advantage: the Daily is automatically generated. Previously, they had to compile something themselves from Excel. We want to get started with the coverts also. And I'm mainly referring to the ratio of coverts and deployment of staff. We can do that because our scheduling tool is linked to Statler. This gives us better insight into the planned and actual hours. With this data, it is easier to plan. We can make good use of the input in these times when every hour can be too much.'
'Statler provides a wealth of information through handy reports. No monthly analysis afterward but looking ahead and making quick adjustments.'
The Financial Manager also asked Statler for an 'out of the box' solution. 'I would like a separate module for the purchasing system. Our daily purchasing is set up, but for large amounts, such as purchasing a laptop, the departments email their request to us. The danger is that such amounts are beyond your scope. Statler understands what we run into and like to share their thoughts.' The transition to new software: that turns out to be quite a process, doesn't it? 'Yeah, there's more to it than I thought. But we feel the urgency. You just need to have tools that you can manage accurately. Why has kitchen procurement suddenly increased? How can linen costs be out of line? Thanks to Statler, we have actual figures readily available. And so, you can come up with a solution together, or come up with new ideas. I am happy with this step; we use this corona period to familiarize ourselves with the software. Our hotels have fewer guests now, so there's time to do some looking around.'
'The Port van Cleve may name himself purveyor to the court. What a kick, such a royal designation!'
In the meantime, we are 'looking around' inside the company. You don't often see two hotels with a specific identity in one group. The Port van Cleve is situated inside historical buildings and has been around for 150 years. The Hulscher brothers made a deal with GA Heineken in 1868 and started their own beer house behind the De Hooiberg brewery. It attracted guests from all over the world. A few years later, they opened an 'eatery' also. Each with a unique number, their famed steaks almost became more popular than the beer. Port van Cleve serves it to this day. Those enterprising brothers turned out to be true pioneers. They were the first to have artificial light in their establishment. Ladies were allowed to make their appearance, and they opened a Bodega with the largest Delft Blue tile frieze in the world, made in Delft. A hotel with a rich story and you can feel, see, and experience that history everywhere during a night on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. 'We received a royal designation this year, and from now on, we can call ourselves purveyor to the court by royal decree. You don't just become that; it's a real thrill', says Ruiter proudly.
Art and events
The Dutch Design Artemis Hotel represents the other extreme. A luxurious hotel, mainly home to business and foreign guests. Cross the threshold, and you will come face to face with contemporary art that changes every 4 months. Companies rent out spaces in this inspiring environment. A photoshoot, fashion show, or private party; the events are framed by music, design, and delicious food. Ruiter: 'This hotel is larger, and the atmosphere is more business-like. Still, it fits well under one flag as far as I am concerned. There is good collaboration behind the scenes. A good example is our Aeon Academy, where the staff goes on training courses. You can only achieve that by working together.'
'Thanks to Statler, we have access to real-time figures from various systems. This allows us to dig into the numbers even more. Yes, that represents a small culture change.'
The challenge for the MT starts in the new year. 'Everything has been set up in Statler, now the organization has to get to work', says Ruiter. That will take some getting used to. Looking at the figures every month, we are now moving towards daily management through morning meetings. The Daily offers us a clear handle on things. What are the figures? Where can you adjust things? And that will help us. I've been checking it out for a while now, and I see many opportunities with the Forecast tool. You can control costs much better because they are real-time and always available.' Ruiter is also considering a role for Statler in the implementation. 'Perhaps we will put that in the form of a few workshops. The software offers a wealth of information, and you also must learn to interpret those figures. I expect that, with some support, we will soon be at home with Statler.'
The Financial Manager has every confidence in Aeon Plaza Hotels 'learning capacity. Yes, the corona crisis has put a lot on the line. But the team turned out to be very creative, with the courage to jump in at the deep end. For example, the kitchen has come up with culinary takeaway boxes, and marketing has brought in other target groups for the hotel rooms, with long-stay or alternative home office options. Our Bar Bodega is temporarily rented out to a company that purchases corona tests. You certainly won't get all the turnover back, but there is 'commotion' in the company. That keeps you going. And whatever you undertake, it remains important to have clear figures. You have to see what you're doing it for.'