Gareth Fraser, Vice President of Sales & Marketing Enablement shares the inspiration, journey and expansion plans for BirchStreet Systems
What makes a hotel successful? The answer likely varies, depending on who you ask, and, often, guest experience receives the most attention as the key differentiator between brands. This is justified. After all, hospitality professionals are in the business of providing a warm welcome to guests and going above and beyond to delight each guest at every opportunity. However, just as a theater show cannot receive a standing ovation without the stagehands working behind the scenes to ensure the show runs smoothly, hotels cannot achieve front-of-house service excellence without first optimizing their backend procedures. In the world of hospitality, efficient operational workflows empowered by intuitive technology place hotels in a position not only to reach their full potential but also to set new standards of excellence. Digital transformation is a critical catalyst to continued growth and success, especially in today’s market.
It was precisely this line of thinking which inspired the creation of BirchStreet Systems. Uniquely designed for hospitality, BirchStreet solutions, including eProcurement, Inventory Management, Invoice Management, Reporting and Analytics, and more, are borne from deep collaboration and relationships with their customers. “The need for automation of manual procurement processes was undeniable,” explains Gareth Fraser, vice president of sales and marketing enablement at BirchStreet Systems. “The complexity of hospitality procurement has been a well-known industry challenge, but there didn’t yet exist a solution that effectively championed this business segment. We felt that hotel brands needed one reliable system of record to reduce their manual processes and improve reporting while enabling increased spend compliance and a proven increase in profitability. So we set out to create that system. At the same time, founder and chairman Sushil Garg, a longtime complex enterprise software designer, worked to create a company culture that reflected and celebrated the values that guided his career: entrepreneurial spirit, technological excellence, and a keen desire to deliver ongoing customer successes.”
With a clear mission in mind, BirchStreet was established in 2002 and headquartered in Newport Beach, California, with offices in China, Singapore, India, and the UK. In 2021 it relocated its headquarters to Las Vegas, Nevada. “Our solution was built around our customers’ unique and complex business needs in the hospitality industry, including hotels, casinos, restaurants, and food suppliers.” This collaboration streamlines and automates otherwise manual processes while driving actionable visibility and control into direct materials spend, risk of loss, and workflow efficiencies. “Through unique proprietary code, our founder coined the phrase, ‘procure-to-pay on-demand.’ When our first customer inquired as to what company name to place on the contract, our founder, excited by the first big sale, looked out his office window and saw the street sign, Birchstreet, and that he was what he went with,” says Fraser.
Today, BirchStreet’s procure-to-pay automation platform is the leading cloud-based solution in the hospitality industry and serves over 15,000 contracted locations worldwide. BirchStreet’s solutions allow hotel brands of all sizes and scale to better optimize their food and beverage procurement and improve the efficiency of managing inventory and recipes across properties based on real-time food costs and margin control. When hoteliers can rely on fast and accurate inventory counts and access to cost-effective group purchasing networks, they can save time and increase profitability. “We collaborated closely with our customers every step of the way to ensure that system was – and remains to be – truly best in class,” Fraser explains.
Of course, the last two years have been a notoriously challenging time for the hospitality industry. Even as we enter a period of post-pandemic recovery, the global supply chain remains in disarray. When asked if hotels can use BirchStreet to fuel their recovery and come out even stronger on the other side, Fraser says their technology is perfectly suited to this moment in history. “Hotels need to save valuable money and time by automating their manual processes,” he shares. “For far too long, the industry has relied on manual accounting processes, which pay a costly price in overhead. This was highlighted by the impact of the pandemic and full-scale industry shut down. Our end-to-end SaaS platform positions hospitality management companies to save significant money and time for their staff and back-of-house processes.”
Fraser also notes that, within this climate that faces both supply chain challenges and encroaching economic inflation, hotels should look to negotiate preferred pricing. “With supplier partnerships in the multiple thousands, we provide our customers with a one-stop shop to obtain the best price for their procurement needs,” he explains. “Not only that, but our customer advisory board members hail from the top names in hospitality, and they often comment that we provide advance information regarding the hospitality supply chain based on our marketplace data, reporting, and business intelligence capabilities.”
As the hospitality industry once again hits its stride, BirchStreet finds itself in an exciting period of growth – in fact, they are rapidly scaling up. “It is very encouraging to see the positive impact of pent-up demand for travel and hospitality activities after two incredibly difficult years,” shares Fraser. “After 20-years of leading the way for our industry, we also are scaling up. In 2017 private equity firm Serent Capital invested in our company, and in 2021 Parthenon Capital bought out the BirchStreet ownership team and reinvigorated the company with a fresh mindset for future growth. The company has added new board members, new CEO, CFO, CTO, VP roles, and is now hiring key talent for a number of roles.”
According to Fraser, it seems undeniable that a bright future lies ahead for BirchStreet, which sees great opportunity in industry vertical expansion, cross-selling, upselling, and acquisitions in further service to global hospitality management. “Other verticals that are not readily considered hospitality are now coming to us to help them solve their procurement challenges,” he shares. “This is opening new doors for our solutions to automate, streamline, scale, and, ultimately, transform their business processes.”
Attendees at HITEC in Orlando are invited to visit booth #2515 to meet with the Birchstreet team and learn more about the company’s game-changing procure-to-pay business solutions for hospitality.