Search past winners/finalists

Creative Lodging Solutions - Management Team of the Year -

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: Creative Lodging Solutions, Lexington, KY
Company Description: Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is an award-winning corporate lodging management company that specializes in providing customized lodging programs for business travelers. CLS assists clients with lodging expense control, travel policy adherence, and consolidated billing while offering negotiated rates for hotel reservations and corporate housing. They’ve reserved over 13 million traveler nights.
Nomination Category: Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Management Team of the Year - Business Services Industries

Nomination Title: Creative Lodging Solutions Finance Management Team

Tell the story about what this nominated management team has achieved since January 1, 2016 (up to 650 words). Describe the specific impacts the management team has had on your organization Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is an award-winning corporate lodging management company that specializes in providing customized lodging programs for business travelers nationwide. CLS assists clients with lodging expense control, travel policy adherence, and consolidated billing while offering negotiated rates for hotel reservations and corporate housing. We’ve reserved over 13 million traveler nights and counting.

CLS partners with clients to develop customized lodging programs that ensure business travelers adhere to their company’s travel policies while guaranteeing no unauthorized charges on their invoices. CLS aggressively negotiates hotel and corporate apartment rates, saving clients an average of 22% off GDS rates and unrestricted best available rates. We also provide consolidated, timely, and accurate billing coded to each client’s specifications.

In 2016, revenue exceeded $144 million after CLS increased their client base by 21%. The ongoing increase in market share following several years of fast-paced growth had left the finance department struggling to keep up with the increased volume of hotel invoices and client billing despite increasing their staff. To better handle the increased workload, the Finance Management Team led by CFO and co-founder Marsha Couch focused on process development and improvements and investing in technology solutions.

After restructuring the finance department into two smaller departments, the Finance Management Team invested in new software solutions for both the Billing Operations department and the Credit and Collections department. These technologies are streamlining the billing and collections processes and resulting in faster client payments.

Put in place late summer, the collections software is semi-automating the collection follow-up process. This allows for consistency in messaging while speeding up the collections process which in turn also provides faster payments to hotel partners.

CLS processes more than 300,000 hotel invoices annually. To continue providing the exceptional level of service clients demand while fulfilling our commitment to accurate and timely client invoicing with no unauthorized charges, the Finance Management Team must ensure their departments are continuously improving the quality and efficiency of processing hotel invoices. The organization needed a solution that is capable of continuously processing hotel invoices as they’re received while reducing data entry errors and that would also help better scale the hotel invoice processing service as we continue to grow.

Last fall, the Finance Management Team began implementing a document management and workflow solution with optical character recognition to automate hotel invoice processing, provide a faster billing turnaround time for clients, and eliminate data entry errors. These process improvements will allow CLS to expand client services and contribute to the organization’s scalability during its ongoing growth.

The Finance Management Team also incorporated a fixed asset module into their existing accounting system to set up, enter, and maintain company asset records. The new fixed asset module replaced an older system which the company had outgrown and includes monthly reports on depreciation and amortization. Having the fixed asset records in the accounting system allows for automation in month-end entries which provides more accurate reporting.

CFO Marsha Couch was recognized for her Finance Management Team leadership as the Excellence in Business Woman of the Year Gold Winner in the 2016 Women in Business World Awards and the Finance Executive of the Year Gold Winner in the 2016 Best in Biz Awards.

Creative Lodging Solutions was named the Company of Year Gold Winner at the 2016 Golden Bridge Awards and the Employer of the Year Gold Winner in the 2016 Stevie Awards for Great Employers. They’ve also been named one of the Best Places to Work in Kentucky seven times and named to the Inc. 5000 List of the most entrepreneurial and fastest growing companies the past seven years.

Giving back to the community is an important part of CLS’ vision and culture. Employees receive one week of paid community service time as part of their benefits package and are encouraged to serve with the non-profits of their choice. In 2016, the organization also contributed an additional $59,000 to local causes.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated management team since the beginning of 2016.
• Fast-growth trajectory with $144.6 million in revenue in 2016
• 42% CAGR (compound annual growth rate)
• Streamlined the billing, collections, and fixed asset management processes
• Began automating hotel invoice processing which provides a faster billing turnaround time for clients, eliminates data entry errors, and reduces costs
• Implemented process improvements which will allow CLS to expand client services and contribute to the organization’s scalability during its ongoing growth
• CFO Marsha Couch named the Finance Executive of the Year Gold Winner at the 2016 Best in Biz Awards
• CFO Marsh Couch named the Excellence in Business Woman of the Year Gold Winner in the 2016 Women in Business World Awards
• Named to the Inc. 5000 List of the most entrepreneurial and fastest growing companies for the seventh year