Aptech Computer Systems Releases 5 Tips on How Data Snapshots Create Forecasting Accuracy and Greater Profitability

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The Trend is Your Friend: Accurate Forecasts Combine Historic Performance with Daily Operating Data to Uncover Trends that Affect Profitability

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We look backward to see forward, and with Targetvue, we all have one ‘source of the truth’ for analysis.

There's a popular adage among business gurus: The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Accurate forecasting is the foundation of a meaningful budget. An accurate plan influences committed expense money for the future and shows where it will come from. Without reliable forecast numbers, a hotel operator is managing their business in the dark.

Hotel companies today can access an ocean of data that will help them create their financial future. The right technology and processes enable operators to improve their properties' profitability through more effective management without a crystal ball. Forward-looking statistical trend analysis is emerging as a strategic tool that performs the practical magic of creating an accurate forecast you can take to the bank.

A budget is usually frozen and does not change once it is approved. A forecast starts with a budget and is updated frequently. Operators plan for the upcoming months and following year using the facts they have now. Accuracy is the goal. Hotel operators want to look at actual against the forecast and how their yearend performance is affected. How they are pacing to the performance of the previous year is key.

Look backward to see forward
Every corporate financial manager knows the challenge of providing accurate forecasts. Hotel company operations are based on hundreds of revenue, expense, and operational metrics that change daily. A single storm, city convention, or economic upheaval can throw off the most carefully calculated forecast. Driver-based forecasting elevates accuracy. These drivers can be based upon previous performance, hotel standards, or other operating areas. For example: A specific market segment can increase by 5% over the previous year; cleaning supplies can be measured as a standard cost per occupied room; or housekeeper hours can be related to the number of occupied rooms. By creating these relationships, a minimal amount of adjusting or calculating is required by the General Manager or Controller when business changes and the forecast needs to be updated.

Many hotel companies use Aptech’s Targetvue planning and budgeting system to gather information and provide managers with the performance data they need to take proactive measures to increase profitability. The system combines daily data updates with historic trends to forecast future performance. If the initial forecast falls short of profitability goals or misses expense estimates, management can adjust its forecast to stay on track going forward.

For years, operators forecasted revenue; now they can easily forecast payroll, utilities and everything that affects profitability daily. With total-property forecasting a property's static budget becomes a live, evolving document that managers fine tune as trends shift. The CFO of a leading property company describes it this way: "We look backward to see forward, and with Targetvue, we all have one ‘source of the truth’ for analysis."

Experienced financial managers offer 5 points on how incorporating daily data improves forecast accuracy:

1. 'The trend is your friend.'
Hotel companies can improve future profitability based on past performance and on-the-books data. As revenue and expenses go up or down daily, Targetvue’s forecast is automatically updated to reveal factors behind the shift. The system automates the laborious process of reforecasting frequently. The result is better expense management based on actionable data that reduces risk – “the trend is your friend."

2. Driver-based analysis pinpoints solutions.
Financial forecasts traditionally focus on revenue. Targetvue provides forecasts based on all the factors that affect property profitability, such as labor, utilities, and equipment. Financial managers can analyze specific expenses as a percentage of revenue and make positive budgetary adjustments to factors with the biggest impact on profitability.

3. 'What if' simulations measure alternative outcomes.
When management has the flexibility to alter specific data, it can run “what if” simulations to evaluate how those changes affect profitability. If housekeeping costs exceed budget, a manager can easily analyze the impact of using cheaper cleaning supplies or adjusting the schedule.

4. Accurate data support performance-based incentives.
Daily performance snapshots provide operators with updated forecast data for performance-based management incentives. General managers can see which factors affected their forecast for greater accuracy in the future.

5. One version of the truth.
Targetvue can automatically link property managers and stakeholders to their budgets and forecasts. "Our property managers see the same data that I do. There is one version of the truth," explains one VP of finance. "We look at the same three columns--historical data, budget, and forecast. Each hotel is unique with its own management style, market factors, and utility costs, and we show our properties side by side. I may discuss best practices or offer guidance on a GM’s forecast to help him or her stay in budget. It helps them see how they are doing alongside their peers and improves overall profitability."

Managers today like to take a periodic snapshot of their forecasts. This provides their team with a time stamped version of the projections for comparison to improve future accuracy – and profitability.

Aptech Computer Systems
Aptech Computer Systems, Inc. is the only provider of a fully integrated enterprise accounting, business intelligence, and planning ecosystem to the hotel industry. Aptech offers 100% more customer-centric options for hosting, pricing, and product solutions than any other hospitality-focused systems providers. All of its solutions are 100% hotel specific and all its clients are companies that own or manage hotels. Aptech introduced business intelligence into the hotel industry and offers a solid resource of hospitality professionals. Incorporated in 1970, Aptech is an IBM Software Value Plus partner and Premier Solution Provider.

Aptech’s state-of-the-art products include Profitvue® enterprise back office accounting, Execuvue® business intelligence, Webvue® internet accounting support, and Targetvue planning and budgeting. Clients comprise over 3,200 properties - including large chains, multiple-property management companies, and single-site hotels. Aptech’s solutions give operators the ability to be proactive operationally and financially. Execuvue and Profitvue are registered to Aptech Computer Systems, Inc. All other trademarks are owned by their respective holders. For more information, please visit http://www.aptech-inc.com.

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Cam Troutman, Vice President

Julie Keyser-Squires, APR
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