Accounting for hotels 101: 3 key accounting tips for hotels

Table of Contents

Accounting for hotels

In the vast realm of skills required for achieving success in the hospitality industry, certain qualities like charisma, leadership, and delivering exceptional guest experiences often take the spotlight. 

However, one crucial aspect that tends to be overlooked is accounting, despite its significant role in the smooth functioning of a hotel. Accounting operates behind the scenes, supporting the administrative duties that contribute to a hotel’s success.

Neglecting proper accounting practices can result in an ongoing cycle of debt that becomes increasingly challenging to break free from. Therefore, it is essential to understand and fulfil your accounting responsibilities diligently. 

In this article, we provide you with some valuable tips to help you navigate accounting for hotels with expertise and ease.

What is accounting for hotels?

Hotel accounting involves the meticulous tracking of cash flows across various departments to assess the financial standing of the hotel within a specific period. The responsible individual ensures that balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow records are consistently updated.

To ensure the effectiveness of the accounting process, a thorough understanding of fixed and variable expenses, as well as revenue sources, is essential. A common practice is to maintain separate records for each revenue stream, enabling a better assessment of profitability. 

Given the complexity of the matter, it is crucial to enlist the services of an experienced accountant familiar with the intricacies of the hospitality industry and its unique best practices.

Keeping the financial records up to date is paramount to avoid operational pitfalls and future liabilities. Hotel accounting responsibilities include invoicing, accounts receivable, and monitoring key hotel metrics such as occupancy rate, room revenue, and operating expenses.

Implementing a suitable hotel management system is crucial in streamlining these processes, along with effective revenue management practices to optimise rates and maximise profits.

How is accounting for hotels different from other industries?

Hotels hold a distinctive position in the realm of accounting, setting them apart from other industries due to several factors. 

Firstly, their operations run around the clock, and accounting practices need to be capable of seamlessly handling a continuous influx of transactions. 

Moreover, hotels need to maintain distinct expense and revenue accounts for each department within their Standard Chart of Accounts (SCOA)). Another noteworthy aspect is that revenue in hotels is typically recorded upon check-in but received during checkout, highlighting the importance of using a robust credit management system. 

Additionally, due to the dynamic nature of the hospitality industry, hotel room prices are frequently adjusted to adapt to demand fluctuations and seasonal variations. These characteristics make accounting for hotels a unique and multifaceted endeavour.

Tip 1: Determining the most common problems and challenges in accounting for hotels

Determining room prices

Finding the right balance in pricing hotel rooms is crucial to attracting guests while maximising revenue. It’s important to consider various factors such as seasonal demand, weekdays versus weekends, local events, competitor rates, and guest preferences. 

By analysing these factors, you can set optimal room prices that strike a balance between occupancy and potential revenue. Dynamic pricing tools can be utilised to adjust prices in real-time based on supply and demand dynamics.

Managing accounts receivable

Accounts receivable management is a key priority as it involves handling the money owed by guests or third-party agencies. Effective management of receivables ensures a steady flow of income into the hotel. 

Implementing efficient systems and processes to track and collect outstanding payments is essential for maintaining financial stability.

Controlling costs

Cost control is a significant challenge for hotels, considering the seasonal nature of the industry and susceptibility to market trends. Managing labour costs, which typically account for a significant portion of operational expenses, and monitoring departmental budgets are essential strategies to control costs. 

Daily account reconciliation

Given the high volume of transactions in the hotel industry, daily account reconciliation is a critical task. Accountants and auditors perform night audits to reconcile the day’s transactions during non-peak hours. This process involves matching the funds in the bank account with the corresponding accounting records. 

Accounting software and specialised tools can automate much of the reconciliation process, identifying discrepancies that may require further investigation or resolution.

Preventing identity fraud

As hotels handle sensitive guest information, they are vulnerable to credit card theft and information hacking. Establishing strong internal controls and implementing security tools are vital to detect and prevent fraudulent activities. 

By implementing robust security measures and staying vigilant, hotels can protect guest information and safeguard their reputation.

And thus, by effectively addressing these aspects of hotel accounting, managers and accountants can contribute to the financial stability, profitability, and overall success of the hotel.

Tip 2: Find the right process for your financial management in accounting for hotels

When it comes to financial management within the hotel industry, the processes can be categorised into three main areas: revenue-related, expenditure-related, and reporting-related activities.

Revenue process

This revenue process includes all the activities that generate income from guests, including reservation bookings, revenue collected during checkouts, and earnings from additional services like spa treatments. 

Hotel owners and accountants play a vital role in maximising revenue by focusing on increasing occupancy rates, setting competitive room prices, and managing relationships with distribution channels such as online travel agencies. These efforts aim to attract more customers and optimise income generation.

Expenditure process

The expenditure process involves the various activities associated with spending money to operate a hotel, such as purchasing goods and services from vendors and managing employee payroll. Hoteliers and accountants strive to minimise expenses while ensuring efficient operations. 

This entails implementing effective staffing practices, making wise purchasing decisions, and maintaining proper procurement and inventory management systems to control costs, reduce waste, and avoid stockouts.

Reporting process

The reporting process revolves around analysing financial data to evaluate the hotel’s financial performance and create comprehensive reports for decision-making purposes. Hotel owners and accountants are responsible for accurate bookkeeping and timely preparation of financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. 

These reports not only ensure compliance with legal and tax regulations in South Africa but also provide insights into department-wise performance and spending. They serve as a basis for setting future goals and making informed business decisions.

By actively engaging in revenue-related, expenditure-related, and reporting-related activities, hoteliers and accountants contribute to the financial success and stability of the hotel, fostering growth and profitability in a competitive industry.

Tip 3: Understand the necessary investment in financial consultancy, analysis, and reporting

Embracing financial consultancy, analysis, and reporting has become an indispensable strategy for hotels aiming to optimise their profitability in today’s competitive landscape. It involves leveraging insights from analytics and other business intelligence tools to make well-informed decisions. 

In this new era of hospitality, financial consultancy, analysis, and reporting play a pivotal role in guiding hotel operators through this transformative journey.

Hotel accountants must analyse historical and current trends, facilitating the exchange of information between management. This shared knowledge enables managers and hotel owners to gain valuable insights into pricing strategies and booking patterns.

At Thryv Accountants, we specialise in financial consultancy, analysis, and reporting – and offer proven processes to streamline operations. Whether you manage a single boutique hotel or a large hotel group, our experienced team is equipped with the expertise and resources to meet your needs effectively.

Accounting for hotels at Thryv Accountants

Accounting for hotels is a unique process that requires tailored solutions. The good news is that there are effective ways to streamline your bookkeeping process, maximise profit, and enhance convenience. 

By opting for specialised tools and expert guidance, you can accelerate your accounting procedures, streamline your business operations, and simplify your financial management.

Reach out to us at Thryv Accountants to find out more about accounting for hotels, and we can explain everything that is involved. Streamline your business today: We focus on the numbers so you can focus on growing your business.

Information about the authors, publication, and publisher

Picture of Author - Arnaud Brunel

Author - Arnaud Brunel

After a 15 year long career in International Banking and Compliance, Arnaud launched multiple businesses in Cape town. He still heads 2 of these businesses today in the Digital Marketing Industry with Brunel Studios and in the Financial Industry with Thryv.

Picture of Publication & Publisher - Thryv Accountants

Publication & Publisher - Thryv Accountants

Thryv accountants is a private accounting company that focuses on outsourcing of the financial functions of small and medium companies in Cape Town and other regions of South Africa.

The publications on this website are for information purposes only. They are based on our professional opinion.

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