Sonesta International Hotels: Designing for Advanced Reporting and Compliance with OneStream
At the start of 2020, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation owned 58 hotels under three Sonesta-specific brands. When most hotel brands were struggling under the effects of the pandemic, Sonesta took the opportunity to expand its portfolio through a rigorous acquisition strategy. Three years later, it is now one of the largest hotel companies in the world with roughly 1,200 properties and a portfolio of 15 brands across multiple global market segments. This profound growth escalated the need for financial performance uniformity, visibility, and compliance. Specifically in the U.S., with more than 210 properties and growing, Sonesta International Hotel Corporation’s operating and financial reporting was bogged down in an intensely manual process comprised of disparate excel spreadsheets and paper-printed reports. Due to the rapid growth and evolving business, Sonesta had outgrown its system of siloed data and manual processes. Not only was the existing system time-consuming for the general managers at each hotel but it also prevented corporate leadership from the opportunity to automate close processes, reduce reporting risk and potential compliance issues, and prevented it from easily integrating financial data from new entities. These gaps made it essential for the hotel brand to implement an advanced accounting and financial reporting system.
How Riveron helped
Sonesta’s leadership was looking for a fully integrated financial reporting tool from which to make better data-driven decisions. As a company with multiple budgetary functions and variances at each location, every reporting element at Sonesta needed to further standardize and systematize for effectiveness. To meet this need, Riveron partnered with Sonesta on a comprehensive reporting strategy leveraging OneStream, a Corporate Performance Management (CPM) platform that unifies and simplifies the data. Sonesta selected OneStream over other CPM solutions. For Sonesta, OneStream proved to be the most scalable, comprehensive reporting, analytics, and compliance solution. OneStream showcased flexibility in financial reporting, better compliance reporting and data at the level of granularity a hotel requires.
The functionality of the OneStream platform eliminated the error risks of spreadsheet formulas, improving the accuracy of hotel-level reporting while simultaneously supporting forecasting and budgetary functions at the corporate level. Auditable financials govern the entire platform — meaning every instance of data entry or change is timestamped with user identification.
As part of the implementation, Sonesta tasked the Riveron team with devising a way to provide visibility into room status exception reporting (RSER), among other compliance metrics. To execute the RSER overhaul, Riveron leveraged the OneStream data integration engine and configured a dashboards to replace the paper-based compliance system for all managed hotels. Within this made-to-measure performance visibility dashboard, the end user is prompted to provide commentary and cell-specific details on any metric that falls outside the corporate normative threshold set by an automated “traffic-light” color-coded system. The same “traffic-light” color-coding system was used to represent variances in the budget-versus-actuals dashboard used by the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) team. The property-level reporting now allows hotel management to input additional context for variances that could include economic descriptions about specific circumstances at the property.
“Sonesta is now the eighth largest hospitality company in the world, and teaming with Riveron is essential to streamlining our financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting processes, along with accelerating our month-end close. The implementation of OneStream will allow us to have a scalable solution for future growth and enable faster management decisions.” Matt Fritz, Director of Financial Systems and Reporting for Sonesta
In addition to the RSER and FP&A dashboards, the team configured People Planning, a MarketPlace solution, that provides the framework to calculate headcount and people costs with cell detail. Additionally, Account Reconciliation and Task Manager, two other MarketPlace solutions, were used for the implementation to seamlessly integrate functionality.
By partnering with Riveron, Sonesta can now efficiently and effectively distribute enterprise-wide property financial reporting. On the optimized platform, Sonesta’s financials are automated and streamlined, with the ability to create ad-hoc reporting as needed. The new FP&A process replaced the Excel model, provided visibility into monthly progress, and improved data quality due to integrated actual, budget, and forecast data. The new system shortened the company’s monthly close process, driving efficiencies company-wide and reducing turnover in the corporate finance department.
RSER’s daily compliance dashboard resulted in visibility into compliance with daily reporting, elimination of uncontrolled paper processes, and provided a more efficient and secure way to reduce compliance risk. The new platform is pervasive throughout the entire organization, with managers empowered to report property-specific commentary on variances to the budget and forecast and higher-level nuanced economic descriptions for each location.
Most important, the entire technology platform is scalable, meaning this initiative laid the foundation for future acquisitions and platform expansion integral to Sonesta’s business goals. Riveron’s team of experts continues to serve Sonesta by custom-calibrating the OneStream platform to capture granular daily reporting on each property’s revenues, expenses, and more.