Benefits of a Business Degree in Hospitality Management
Working in a hotel finance department can be very much different from the typical finance or accounting type atmosphere. Many financial jobs, especially accounting are often associated with a more impersonal setting, where people in cubicles crunch numbers quietly or filter through gobs of data to analyze revenue. With hotel finance, there are similarities to typical finance roles, however; there are some dramatic differences as well.
It is impossible to give you a detailed description of how each hotel or hotel chain chooses to employ their finance team’s talents, since many hotels utilize their financial employees in different ways, and hotels of various sizes have differing department structures. Instead, I will try to provide a broad overview of the hotel finance environment as a whole based upon my experiences at a director of finance and by focusing on the more important aspects of the work.
In many hotels, the finance department’s manager is typically the controller or director of finance. This person normally reports to the general manager and, as the title recognizes, has the main responsibility of controlling or directing the overall financial security of the hotel. In such a position, you will likely be working with almost every department within the hotel as you oversee F & B charges and payments, the payment of bills for departments throughout the hotel, and meet with the sales department to discuss incoming groups, forms of payment and issuance of credit.
A background in finance or accounting can be quite helpful in moving into such a position, but is not always necessary. With some hotels, you might find that half your work is dealing more with customer service issues and questions, and the other half is actual finance or accounting related work. Since major hotel chains typically have a corporate office that deals with a large portion of the accounting and finance work, you may find that they absorb a large amount of the more in-depth and complex financial and tax aspects for the hotel.
Expect to find that most general managers will list the accounts receivable aspect of your work as one of the most important areas. If you aren’t sure what this means, accounts receivables are the outstanding debts owed to the hotel from various groups and guests who have yet to pay their bills. In many hotel environments, business travelers, short-term guests, and similar individuals or small groups will tend to pay up front with a credit card or cash. However, in cases of larger groups or events held at the hotel, where bills might be running into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, hotel credit might be requested. If that credit is approved, as the director of finance, you will be in charge of seeing that the money is collected in a timely manner. Expect that you will be reporting weekly, if not more often to your general manager, and on a monthly basis to your regional or area VP, regarding the status of these outstanding amounts.
Working in hotel finance, you may have to be prepared to spend a large portion of your time dealing with guest service issues. Unless you are working in a mega-hotel and have a large staff to buffer you from such issues, you will likely find yourself answering questions regarding billing issues, mistakes, debit and credit card questions, tax and tax exemption issues, as well as resolving billing errors and questions from the front desk staff. Find a Hotel Management Program in your state.
AUDITS, TRAINING, & MONTH END REPORTS
Other major aspects of your work revolve around hotel audits, training, and month end reports. Counting food and beverage and front desk cashier banks, updating employees and management on the newest rules, regulations, and changes in policy, and conducting self and department audits, will be part of your routine. You will also probably spend time meeting with sales and food and beverage staff to discuss groups that are arriving and attending ‘resume’ meetings pertaining to upcoming groups and events where you will obtain pertinent billing information. View a complete list of online accounting schools.
At the end of each month, be prepared to spend a day or two preparing a multitude of files and reports to submit to your general manager and corporate office, as well as working to balance and reconcile bank deposits, reviewing revenue numbers, determining any accruals, and investigating discrepancies found in the expense ledger.
So if you enjoy problem solving, helping people, and you’re looking for a job in which you get finance experience but that still offers plenty of personal interaction, you might want to consider a career in hotel finance.
If the hotel business sounds like it might be right for you, check out the Hospitality Schools directory today!