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Creative Lodging Solutions - Company 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 USA
Company Description: Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is an award-winning corporate lodging services provider that is passionate about great travel management service. Launched in 2002, CLS aims to disrupt the business travel industry by combining the values of flexible hotel and corporate apartment solutions with reliable travel expense and billing management. CLS has reserved over 13 million traveler nights.
Nomination Category: Company / Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Company of the Year - Hospitality & Leisure - Large

Nomination Title: Creative Lodging Solutions

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

Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is an award-winning corporate travel 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. They’ve reserved over 13 million traveler nights and counting.

In 2016, CLS continued to take on additional clients after expanding into new 68,000 square foot offices following a $5.2M re-fit the previous fall. A service oriented staff and dedicated national sales team increased the client base by 21% while improving client retention by 4%.

They also began putting in place the workflow and architecture for a new proprietary reservations system software. This system will replace their existing proprietary software later this year. It will offer additional functionalities which will enable expanded travel management services such as online booking. The new system is a key component of CLS’ next stage of growth.

With the close of 2016, CLS reached another milestone when revenue exceeded $144 million. CLS’ compound annual growth rate since its launch in 2002 is 42% and the organization has won multiple awards for its fast-growth. CLS continues to increase its market share while developing innovative ways to improve and expand the services provided to clients.

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. They also provide consolidated, timely, and accurate billing coded to each client’s specifications. CLS’ proprietary software allows clients to make lodging requests online, track reservations, view invoices and payment status, and monitor spending. Comprehensive quarterly reports provide valuable information on lodging spend as well as recommendations for cutting future costs.

Despite the lagging economy of recent years, CLS heavily invested in future growth by adding more jobs, new technologies, and further developing their proprietary software. Company founder and CEO, Michael Tetterton, realized the potential of investing profits back in the company and capitalized from the unique opportunities the economic conditions provided by offering a win/win solution to clients through business process outsourcing. His investment paid off and resulted in the sustained growth levels of 2016.

CLS continues to invest in new technologies and last fall the finance department 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.

Organizational changes the previous year enabled the company to keep pace with growing client needs but had a negative impact on employee turnover. Employee retention dipped significantly to an all time low of to 73% in 2015. The leadership team recognized the need for better training for newly promoted managers and created additional training and leadership development courses which included emotional intelligence training and ongoing coaching. As a result, employee engagement improved and employee retention rose 14% in 2016.

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.

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.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this organization since the beginning of 2016

-Fast-growth trajectory with $144.6 million in revenue in 2016
-21% year-over-year client growth
-Room for job creation including a larger call center after expanding into newly built 68,000 square foot offices the previous fall
-Began putting in place workflow and architecture for a new $2M proprietary reservations system software which will enable expanded travel management services
-14% improvement in employee retention
-42% CAGR (compound annual growth rate)
-Company of the Year Gold Winner at the 2016 Golden Bridge Awards
-Employer of the Year Gold Winner at the 2016 Stevie Awards for Great Employers
-Named to the Inc. 5000 List of the most entrepreneurial and fastest growing companies for the seventh year
-Won 47 industry awards from 13 different organizations

Of the following measures of success, which ONE do you want the judges to most appreciate about your organization's story of achievement since the beginning of 2016?

Process Improvement