Business software consultancy, Percipient, share their recent implementation success with luxury Northern Ireland hotel group, Hastings Hotels.

Chris Stock, Managing Director, Percipient, says he is delighted with their latest Sage Intacct success story as it represents a real and positive step towards growth beyond the pandemic for hospitality.

“As the world looks towards life after COVID, we’re finding that hoteliers are looking to move towards the latest technology to help them navigate the road to recovery,” comments Chris. “The investment being made in finance technology today is one that will allow you to reap the rewards for years to come. It’s a one-time investment in an industry where the increasing need is for cloud-based technology that is designed to scale with the business, as new opportunities present themselves now and the future.”

About Hastings Hotels

Hastings Hotels is the largest independent hotel group in Northern Ireland, with seven luxurious properties across the province. These include the five star Culloden Estate and Spa, the world famous Europa hotel, the four star Stormont hotel and Northern Ireland's largest new hotel, The Grand Central Hotel – all situated in Belfast. Outside the capital, properties include the magnificent Slieve Donard Resort and Spa adjacent to the famous Royal County Down Golf course, the four star Everglades Hotel in Derry-Londonderry, and the historic Ballygally Castle set on the stunning Antrim coast.

Embracing a Digital Era

In early 2020, Hastings Hotels commenced plans for digital transformation across the group and identified a need for a new financials’ platform. Its existing platform involved several manual paper-based processes, which meant that a disproportionate amount of time was spent processing data, and the team felt these resources could be redistributed to much higher value activities.

Having undertaken an extensive review of the market, Hastings selected Sage Intacct based on its flexibility, ability to integrate with online banking, property management, procurement and HR/Payroll systems, reporting and superior management insights. Its ability to scale to support Hastings’ business growth was also key to the decision.

“We operate a diverse portfolio for our customers – from city-based hotels to country retreats offering spas, world famous golf courses and scenery, therefore it’s important that we have a robust, scalable platform from which to manage our financials,” comments Peter Gibson, Financial Director, Hastings Hotels.

“We needed a solution which would provide the business with access to in-depth management information in a timely and user-friendly manner, to enable faster, more informed decision making within the business, something which is absolutely crucial in responding to the challenges we face in the current environment. From the outset, Sage Intacct not only met all our core requirements, but it also fulfilled all of our ‘nice-to-haves’ which is rare in any tender process.”

“The solution’s cloud architecture was also very appealing from a cost, risk and scale perspective, with four automatic updates each year, rather than a need to factor in potentially painful projects to implement new versions which require dedicated resource and budget each time. In addition, the Sage eco-system, which allows customers to provide feedback and ideas for refinement and improvement, means that these updates typically include features which have been identified as value adds from those using the system.”   

“Percipient demonstrated a good understanding of our business, and this, combined with the team’s extensive experience in the hospitality industry, meant that we had absolute confidence that they were the right consultancy for the project.”

Deeper Insights for Informed Planning

Having gone live after a six-month deployment, Hastings is already seeing significant strategic benefits.

“We now have much improved visibility of higher quality information,” Peter explains. “We can slice and dice the data, according to hotel, or department, and identify trends and anomalies across, say food and beverage, housekeeping, spa services or customer service. The availability of these insights on an intuitive dashboard means that minimal skills are needed, but that everyone has up to date information from which to perform their role to the best of their abilities.

“Our board meetings are much more productive as discussions and decisions are based on robust insights, taking subjectivity out of the equation, and instead defining clear options to improve performance. Similarly, our general managers across the group can access the dashboards daily to help deepen their understanding of a hotel’s status and performance at any given time.

“Planning for the future can be a tricky at the best of times, never mind in the midst of a global pandemic, but through having a clear, accurate picture of our current position, and the ability to be agile and make decisions quickly, we are confident that we’re in the best place to plan effectively.”

“Operationally, we have taken an entire month off our close period. This speed is largely due to eliminating manual intervention, ensuring the process is not only more efficient but less error-prone.”

A Successful Partnership   

“Percipient was hugely impressive throughout the project, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the hospitality industry and Hastings’ unique business model. Against a backdrop of remote working and the challenges brought about by COVID, the team was accessible, responsive and an absolute pleasure to deal with at all times.”

“As we look to the next leg of our digital transformational journey, we are confident that we have the best foundation in place, supported by the best people, and that we can truly embrace whatever opportunities, and indeed challenges, our industry faces in the coming years.”