Drury Hotels Launches Holistic Digital Transformation

By combining a big-picture perspective of the company’s needs with best practices, Drury Hotels increased collaboration and built a digital foundation for the future. The hotel chain’s executives discuss retiring legacy applications, taking security seriously, and helping employees become even better at what they do.

When it comes to keeping guests happy, Missouri-based Drury Hotels has received the J.D. Power “Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Upper Midscale Hotel Chains” award for a record 16 consecutive years. The company’s 150-plus hotels across 26 states deliver exceptional value to business and leisure travelers. To support this mission, the company deployed Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management (HCM).

We recently spoke with Drury Hotels Vice President and Chief Information Officer Ryan Schlimpert and Corporate Controller Lee Lummus to get their insights on the Workday deployment and learn how working with a single partner and platform allows them to streamline operations and engage their employees.

Tell us about your decision to deploy Workday. What were some of the driving factors behind the adoption of new technology for your business?

Schlimpert: Our top concerns were security and business continuity. At the time, we were operating with a 20-year-old system that was really holding us back. What if it went down and we couldn’t run payroll? We’d been static for a long time—we couldn’t upgrade our servers, and the system lacked the capabilities that would allow us to move our business forward. Additionally, too many of our systems were separate silos.

Lummus: We started by looking at our business processes holistically, gathering information and feedback from everyone on the deployment team. That was all funneled up to the steering committee, which included finance, IT, HR, and procurement. All the business teams were very involved in the request for proposal because we knew it was important to engage them and get them on board from the beginning.

“With all the evolving threats out there, it’s important to work with a vendor that takes security seriously.”

Ryan Schlimpert Vice President and Chief Information Officer Drury Hotels

Just as you were launching Workday, COVID-19 shut down most hotels. How did the pandemic affect you?

Schlimpert: Yes, we were in the middle of the Workday accounting implementation and had just gone live on Workday HCM when COVID-19 hit, which was the biggest disruption in the company’s history. We had to quickly move our entire team, including the Workday implementation team, to remote work. Our workforce had the added responsibilities of managing through the pandemic, including keeping our teams and guests safe, keeping up with changing COVID guidance and regulations, procuring personal protective equipment, re-budgeting activities, and more. But with hard work and Workday’s partnership, we still managed to go live on time and on budget.

What impact has the Workday deployment had on operations thus far?

Schlimpert: One of the best things is that Workday empowers all of our team members, not just the back-office team. Having one partner and one platform for finance, HR, and procurement is exciting. In contrast to a static system, Workday is always improving.

Workday has also made us much more efficient, which has allowed us to reduce and repurpose multiple positions. Extending Workday Learning to our hourly team members has been a huge benefit as we develop and train our team. Employees really like the self-service capabilities in Workday, such as being able to check their benefits or change their name or address. And HR likes being able to focus on higher-value activities instead of fielding those calls.

Lummus: We’re also changing how we allocate management and royalty fees to our hotels. Previously, we only posted these fees in the closing week of each month. Hotel managers couldn’t see the expenses until the monthly profit and loss statement was released. But now they’ll be able to see them weekly.

What’s next for Drury on the digital transformation journey? Are there specific areas you’ll be focusing on in the coming year?

Schlimpert: A big part of building a better digital foundation is retiring legacy applications. Newer, easier-to-use systems make it easier to train people, and they’re more efficient and engaging. We want to create a seamless experience that allows team members to be great at what they do. We’re putting automation in place to free people up so they can be more efficient and focus on value-added work as opposed to replicable tasks. And analytics let us visualize our data and really drive insights and enable our team to make smarter decisions.

Security is also critical to our digital foundation. With all the evolving threats out there, it’s important to work with a vendor that takes security seriously. Workday simplifies our ecosystem and reduces the number of places our data is stored. That’s huge for us.

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