Hotel Finance: What Do They Do

Why is it useful for you to know about the different jobs in the finance department of a hotel? If you chose to invest 3-4 years of your life studying hospitality, the art of hosting people, you are probably not planning to work in finance.


Well, finance is big and you should not be prejudice against it.



Why should you care about finance?

The finance department in a hotel has the role of tracking the cost of running the hotel and making sure that the revenue makes a profit.


The finance department has many jobs that are just pure finance and are not hospitality-specific, that’s inevitable.


However, the hotel has several jobs that require front line and operational understanding, of food and beverage outlets and rooms. Many roles require working with people and being able to lead challenging conversations, such as negotiations.


Not yet convinced that this is something you should care about?


If you are not willing to at least understand it, you will not be able to grow. If you don’t understand the basics of operational finance, you will not be able to have a successful career in hospitality.


If you want career growth, success, and recognition in hospitality, you cannot ignore the financial side of it. The finances are at the centre of any business, it is a profit-driven business after all.


A Manager that understands the cost drivers and how different variables affect that, is that much more valuable to the company than one who is ignorant “because it is not his/her job”.

Interested now? Let’s get started.



Finance jobs in a hotel

In a hotel, like in any organisation, the finance department is always trying to spend less money.

However, in a hotel, the finance department has a few interesting roles that your usual corporate offices do not have.


Disclaimer:

The jobs described next, are jobs/tasks, not one person’s job roles. Several of these tasks are typically performed by one person.


Every hotel will have its own organisational structure and number of people, but it is safe to say that even if the department has 3 or 15 people, someone is doing the jobs from this list.


From the top-down, here are the finance jobs in a hotel.


Director of Finance

The boss, they oversee the whole department and make sure that the critical tasks are being performed on time and correctly. The Director of Finance report to the General Manager, the owner and the brand corporate office if there is one.


As a member of the hotel’s leadership team, the DOF’s job is to make sure that everyone is doing their job and that the team has the support they need in day today as well as unexpected challenges.


One of the key tasks is budget planning. Budget planning is annual, quarterly and monthly. The task is to review previous performance and plan based on that and what the differences vs similarities are.


So take a month of July for example. In 2018, the city hosted a festival and so the demand was high, the occupancy was high, the type of guest was reflective of the festival rather than the hotel itself, as well as the hotels spend some extra money on marketing for the festival.


In 2019, the festival did not take place and was not replaced by another one, so the planning for the budget must reflect these changes in the demand.


Budget is all about the cost to run the hotel vs the money that comes into the hotel.

Monthly, they review the Profit and Loss account and manage the relationship with the hotel’s bank to maintain cash flow.



Assistant Director of Finance

An Assistant Director of Finance is basically the right hand of the Director of Finance and knows everything that the DOF does and acts as a support and a link between the team and the hotel’s leadership team.


Purchasing Manager

Works with the Director of Finance, Cost Controller, other departments in the hotel, and external suppliers.


The Purchasing manager ensures:

  • that the contracts between the hotel and the external suppliers are in place,

  • that the goods are of good quality,

  • that we get preferred price deals and rebates,

  • they would solve the arising supplier issues,

  • they would source any new goods for the food and beverage outlets,

  • negotiate partnership deals with brands for long standing offers or short term promotions,

  • and as part of the above tasks, they negotiate the prices with the suppliers.

This is role can also be called Procurement Manager, but this nuance is only related to the food and drinks in a hotel.


Income Auditor

An auditor, employed by the hotel, that checks that the hotel is recording their income correctly.

This means that they go through the transactions of each revenue generating outlet and coordinate bank, cash, and point of sale (POS) system details. They then also compare it to the card reader machine, to ensure that correct Mastercard and VISA fees are paid.


The income auditor checks that the sales operations are done correctly through the POS system and correctly allocate the finances. A debit card payment is not the same as a credit card payment and is not the same as a cash payment essentially.


Cost Controller

The clue is in the name - the Cost Controller controls the costs. What does that mean?


Controlling the hotel’s cost is about ensuring that the prices of goods bought are correct - as per the agreed contract and on par with or below the market prices.


The Cost Controller does not look after ALL hotel’s cost, the main task is the Food & Beverage cost. They review the cost of sales per outlet, per menu, and per dish on the menu.


They will work with the chefs and bartenders in ensuring that the prices of dishes are reflective of their cost.


A dish’s cost is not just pure cost of the ingredients and the time it takes to prepare it, it also wastage and related inventory management.


Cost Controller works very closely with the Purchasing Manager.


Financial Controller

The job of the Financial Controller is managing the day to day operations of the department. This includes preparation and management of the hotels financial budgets, ensuring that the hotel is in compliance with the local tax laws and any other operating procedures.


This role is one responsible for all the CAPEX cost at the hotel - all the one-off investment costs such as a few coffee machines or refurbishment of all rooms. They also track the company’s fixed assets and record their depreciation accordingly.