Generating Real Value from Proactive Utility Bill Management

An Aimbridge Hospitality Case Study


Burton Energy Group provides hospitality clients with a full suite of energy services, including utility bill management. The scope of this service entails almost all forms of activity related to working with electric, natural gas, propane, water and sewer utilities. For companies like Aimbridge Hospitality, which has a portfolio of 185 hotels across 29 states and the Caribbean, this service offering is particularly needed and impactful to the bottom line. Utility bill management is even more of a necessity  when considering Aimbridge made several high-profile acquisitions which more than doubled the size of their portfolio, and more growth opportunities are under consideration.

“Aimbridge has grown significantly over the past few years, and Burton has literally grown with us. We rely upon them for all aspects of our energy program, including utility bill management and reporting.”

Vince Cuce
Aimbridge SVP Finance

When Burton initially started working with Aimbridge the portfolio consisted of 12 hotels and no energy management plan. Burton worked with Aimbridge to deploy the core utility bill management service so that utility related issues could be proactively monitored, analyzed and resolved.  The process entails capture of utility specific billing data, verification of accuracy, resolution of changes in accounts, rates, and reasonability checks on usage and costs. It is a time intensive practice, but one that ensures Aimbridge is receiving an optimal return.

Burton distributes monthly energy performance reports to each hotel and Aimbridge corporate, thereby turning this voluminous data into useful information. The reports not only detail how the hotel is using energy and water, but also utility rates, occupancy rates, historical weather data and a number of graphics that illustrate whether the hotel is using energy and water more efficiently. And as importantly, the reports denote possible concerns with usage and/or rates that allow Burton to follow up on immediately with the hotel and utility.

“The team at Burton works closely with our hotels and corporate team. Burton proactively anticipates issues and implement processes that not only mitigates costs but more importantly focuses on best practices…After seven years they continue to generate a significant return for our ownership groups.”

Robert Burg
Aimbridge COO

The reports are helpful, but hoteliers often desire the ability to view specific utility data about their properties in hospitality terms, not energy engineering terms. There is also a need to access utility information before monthly aimbridge-portal1-thumbreports are distributed, and also inquire about data not included in the reports. With this in mind, Burton recently developed an energy portal that serves as a repository for all utility related information. The portal contains utility bills, normalized cost and utility usage, and important metrics and analysis of impact of weather, occupancy, and rates. This data is available as specific values, as compared to past performance, and as visual trends. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and has provided general managers, chief engineers, controllers and other hotel personnel with a tool to proactively track their energy and water consumption.

While the monthly performance reports and the portal are critical to effective utility bill management, Aimbridge corporate expects each service offering to produce savings, or avoided costs. Burton diligently tracks all utility billing activities on a daily basis, some of which include metering errors, billing errors, surety deposits, bond management, utility notices, late fees, utility rebates, tax credits, new service, cancellation of existing accounts and the negotiation of utility rebills. The monetary impact was $153,401 as follows:

Utility Refunds $93,327.06
Tax Credits $14,515.81
Leak Prevention $40,294.00
Occupancy Tax Reduction $5,264.85

As the Aimbridge property count continues to grow, the number of utility accounts also increases, and with that the opportunity to be even more impactful via the utility bill management service. Recently Burton was tasked with the transition of 103 hotels into the Aimbridge portfolio, which required establishing new account information with almost 300 utilities. Aimbridge required that the work be completed in less than a month with nominal interruption to daily business activity. Burton completed the project within the allotted time and budget.

 

Click here to download a copy of the Aimbridge Hospitality Case Study