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Hotel accountants require a certain level of education that will vary according to the specific size and scope of their role within the hotel. Beginning candidates should possess a grounding in mathematics, with applicable experience in computers, financial software, spreadsheets and report preparation. Hotel accountants should also have a more than basic understanding of business finance and be aware of general accounting procedures and principles.
Training and Qualifications
Training to become a hotel accountant may be found at local community and four-year colleges, as well as universities. Most jobs require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field. The best opportunities exist for those applicants that have a master’s degree, or obtain certification and are proficient in using accounting and auditing computer software.
Hotel accountants should have good follow-up ability and be able to meet deadlines, as finance is a major part of business operations, so reliability is a key aspect. There are numerous simultaneous deadlines to contend with, which need to be managed efficiently, across various properties and groups.
In addition, specific organizations such as the Hotel Accounting Institute provide comprehensive tools with interactive web-based training specifically designed for the hospitality industry. The larger hotels may recruit qualified certified accountants. Small to medium sized hotels may offer an opportunity to train while on the job.
The hotel accountant keeps track of every financial transaction that occurs in the hotel to ensure that all incoming and outgoing money is recorded and handled accurately. Discrepancies need to be investigated, corrected and reported as to why they happened. For example, mistakes need to be dealt with and solutions for future situations developed. Fraudulent activity needs to be thoroughly interpreted and may involve liaison with legal authorities. This kind of responsibility is a key component to the operations of the hotel and can cause a severe business threat if not handled properly.
Hotel accountants handle wage and salary calculations, as well as employee payouts and payments. Based at the hotel, the accountant will usually work closely with the hotel managers and property accountants to answer financial questions as they arise. If the hotel is a subsidiary of a major group, the accountant may be physically based at a head office facility.
Financial Report Preparation
The hotel accountant will be responsible for producing month-end accounts, along with comparisons to help forecast business earnings. Management decisions are often made based upon projections, so accurate accounting of required financial information is essential. Profit and loss accounting, as well as balance sheets, is also necessary, so that senior management may assist in preparing budgets and business planning. The bank statements will also need to be reconciled, along with certain other reports as may be deemed necessary from time to time. Bank and general ledger reconciliations may also be instrumental in preparing certain financial statements.
Collections and Taxes
Hotel accountants may also be responsible for watching the cash flow, collecting late payments and reporting bad debts. It may also be necessary to reconcile journal entries for month-end close in connection with multiple properties. The preparation of sales and occupancy tax returns may also be a designated responsibility of the hotel accountant, either in conjunction with or independent of, a separate tax professional.
Hospitality Accounting Outsourcing
Many hotel owners opt to do business with hotel management companies and those that specialize in accounting services. Using hotel accounting staff through an employment firm can offer the most up-to-date technology expertise with reliable services and cost savings opportunities. Hospitality industry trends are similar to those of other businesses with regard to certain operations. Automating or outsourcing certain administrative tasks, such as accounting, can afford flexibility for hotel owners and operators by allowing them to fully focus on their specific major areas of service concerns. Those interested in exploring becoming a hotel accountant could gain the skills required and align with an outsourcing firm to find employment opportunities.
According to salary resources, compensation for hotel accountants can range from $30,000 to $90,000 annually. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the annual mean wage for a staff accountant as of May 2009 to be approximately $34,100. Hotel accountants may also earn other compensation in the form of merit or profit sharing bonuses.