According to the 2018 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook from Deloitte, the hotel industry continues its strong performance run and is projected to sustain 5–6 percent growth throughout 2018. To simultaneously manage and take advantage of that growth, hoteliers are looking for opportunities to save time and money in strategic places – from maintenance to housekeeping to catering. But to ensure long-term success, hotels must account for every single aspect of their business operations, with real-time data readily accessible and actionable. One of the most critical components of a top performing hotel is having the proper financial accounting system in place.
There is no question that the hospitality industry presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing financials, whether you own a single property or a portfolio of hundreds. David Lund, hotel financial coach and international hospitality financial leadership pioneer, has on several occasions challenged hotel professionals to ask themselves a series of questions to get a proper handle on their hotel’s financials, such as: Do you measure labor productivity and record hours of work in your financials? Do you have payroll segmented by management and hourly classifications? Are you able to see if your profits are where they should be in an enhanced top line statement?
While these questions and all the known challenges might seem overwhelming to a hotelier working hard to get a handle on numbers while growing their business, a strong accounting solution can make all the difference. Here are four questions every hotelier should ask themselves before choosing an accounting partner:
1. Is the solution tailored to my needs?
When it comes to financials, hoteliers have a unique set of needs that must be met by a technology that is developed, designed and deployed to make a hotelier’s life easier. Many companies are enticed by the promises of an ERP solution, only to find that the one-size-fits-all approach, add-ons and contracts are anything but flexible for the hotel industry. An ERP-lite solution addressing the specific needs of hotels is more likely to work alongside hoteliers to implement customized reports and features that apply to other brands within the industry. Making the transition from one accounting software to another should be a team effort, so a new solution should support you during this phase, from customized training and set-up to data migration between systems. At the end of the day, choosing an accounting partner that is specific to the hospitality industry is crucial to a hotel’s success.
2. Do I have the option to scale?
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the hospitality industry is not. Whether expected seasonal changes or unexpected events like a natural disaster, it’s important to have the option of onboarding an on-demand accounting team that can scale with your hotel’s needs. Hotel accounting services teams can ramp up quickly to offer a range of customized solutions for the full accounting cycle so that hotel leadership can spend less time on administration and more time on guests. From balance sheet reconciliations to assistance with sales and use tax filings, an on-demand team structure can deliver the greatest value to an organization where it is most needed by adapting to the culture and matching financial services accordingly. Not to mention that this solution eliminates the cost and hassle of building an in-house talent pool while minimizing back-office disruption and maximizing production.
3. Will I benefit from cutting-edge technology?
It’s crucial for an accounting partner to offer cloud-based services. Real-time data rolled into an intuitive dashboard eliminates the need for forecasting by providing visibility into key metrics – any time, anywhere. Hoteliers need to focus their business on managing assets and generating returns for their owners instead of spending time on the continuous, painstaking process of building, updating and maintaining an expensive data infrastructure to house accounting and business intelligence platforms. Cloud-based reporting can offer seamless labor monitoring and management from time clock to paycheck. Additionally, on-demand management of associate earnings – including biometric capabilities – allow hoteliers to manage every type of transaction in real time.
4. Can I see the big and small picture?
The hospitality industry is more competitive than ever, so it’s imperative for hoteliers to have their finger on both the pulse of their individual property as well as the entire portfolio – and even their competitors. Aggregated data lets users to take a step back and capture a company’s growth, needs and progress. But these users must also have the ability to see property-specific data to identify systemic issues or trends at one property that might not be an issue at another. Another perk of a hotel-specific solution can be the ability to see how one brand or property stacks up against similar competitors, which allows hoteliers to make fact-based comparisons to improve their business. A solution that offers a mobile app is an added bonus, giving busy hoteliers the power to quickly access critical information and make informed decisions whether at home or on the road.
Overall, the right combination of financial management, reporting, and performance management tools is essential to a hotel’s success. Therefore, the right accounting solution should be industry-specific, have the ability to scale, offer cloud-based and mobile capabilities and feature both property-specific and portfolio-wide metrics. This combination of offerings gives hoteliers the freedom to spend less time compiling and processing data and more time serving guests and motivating employees.