Sympathy for the Night Auditor: How to Get More Done at Hotels Before the Sun Rises
by Jillian Straw
It’s 3 am at your hotel. Last call at the bar was at 2, and the last guests are finally leaving their empty glasses behind and heading up to their rooms. Most of the people who had left the premises for the night have returned and are now sleeping soundly, nestled in crisp white sheets.
As guests disappear behind closed doors and quiet spreads through common areas, one member of hotel staff is ready to dive into action and set the business up for success the next day: a night auditor. Responsible for reconciling the books at the end of a day, night auditors have a lot of work to do in a short period of time before the sun rises and guests flood the grounds once again.
What is a night auditor?
Activity slows down in the late hours, but hotels never officially turn “off”—it’s a 24/7 business. To ensure that everything has been correctly documented during the day and accounting records are properly balanced, night auditors work overnight at hotels to review and reconcile transactions. This allows them to do their jobs with limited interruption.
So why, exactly, do they need to be left alone to properly do their job?
What does a night auditor do?
It might seem like a night auditor is a fancy name for a bookkeeper who works late hours. This is an incorrect assumption. Hotels are complicated businesses; management must contend with occupancy, varying room rates, guest transactions, and the business’ own transactions for food ingredients, decor, and much more.
A night auditor must make sure that all of these things are properly balanced or reconciled so they can close the books for one day and open them for the next. Any error in this audit can lead to a lot of complications in financial management for the business. So, it’s a no-brainer why night auditors would need as much peace and quiet as possible to maintain focus.
Occupancy management is vital to the profitability of a hotel, and night auditors play a key role in this aspect of operations. They make sure that all room reservations for that day were checked in, look for no-shows, calculate occupancy percentage, and even post the room rates for the next day.
It’s the night auditor who usually looks for upcoming room availability and compares it against the scheduled check-ins for the next day so rooms can be properly assigned. They also prepare guest invoices to be paid upon checkout—think of it like an accounts receivable function.
Of course, those occupancy responsibilities play directly into the overall financial tasks that night auditors are responsible for. Night auditors prepare financial reports for senior management to get quick insight into any given day’s performance.
To prepare the reports, night auditors must ensure that all transactions recorded by the front desk match the accounting records of the back office. They’re also reconciling cash drawers for incidental purchases and preparing any necessary bank deposits for front desk management to address the next day.
The reports are crucial not only for senior management, but also for the overall accounting team. By reporting daily, accountants can conduct statistical analyses that can uncover trends around the property’s profitability.
What tools can help night auditors be more efficient?
Clearly, night auditors have a lot to do in the middle of the night. And with such a high-stakes job, it’s important that every aspect of the role is executed correctly so hotels are properly tracking and reporting their financial performance.
Luckily, there are a few tools that we offer at Plate IQ that empower night auditors to complete their nightly to-do list with ease and accuracy.
Automating invoice-related tasks
A core task for night auditors is reconciling the books of the front desk. So it makes sense that a night auditor’s job would be simplified if all invoices that went through the front desk were automated instead of manually entered into an accounting system.
Consider all of the errors that manual data entry can introduce into a hotel’s books. Then think about how much easier it would be for management to take a photo of an invoice, have it automatically populate the proper General Ledger code, and route directly to the night auditor’s inbox for review and approval.
Invoice automation doesn’t just benefit night auditors. Management no longer has to take time away from guest services for data entry, and the overall accounting team can feel more confident in the numbers provided to them.
Using a better corporate credit card
Balancing cash drawers becomes easier when hotels use a pre-controlled corporate expense card. Incidental internal purchases, like unexpected cleaning bills or an out-of-the-box guest request, can be made using a card that’s dedicated solely for that purpose.
Instead of using petty cash—which, as night auditors know, can be complicated to track—hotel accounting teams should strongly consider using The Plate IQ Card instead. Accountants or other approved entities (like night auditors) get the power to issue both physical and virtual cards for their team.
Plate IQ Card account holders can control spend both by Merchant Category Code (MCC) and amount. Plus, each transaction is easily recorded in one point of reference for easy export into a hotel’s accounting system. It’s another win not only for hotel accounting teams, but also for night auditors who won’t have to worry so much about balancing cash drawers.
How can night auditors start using Plate IQ?
Plate IQ exists to simplify accounting functions across hospitality industries. We keep the same ethos when it comes to onboarding our customers: just request a demo with one of our Product Specialists and your team can start scanning invoices and issuing corporate credit cards today.
Night auditors, rejoice! With Plate IQ, you’re well on your way to simplified work shifts.
Jillian Straw writes for Plate IQ, covering technology in the hospitality industry from a background in restaurants and operations management.
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