Night Auditors in the Hospitality Industry
When you lay your head down at night in your hotel room, you might think that the staff is doing the same. While it’s true for the daytime workers, several employees are clocking night shifts to ensure things are running smoothly. Some hotels may never seem to sleep, such as Virgin Hotel Las Vegas. Indeed, some people in a hotel are just starting their day at 11 p.m., but it’s not to party.
What Is a Night Auditor?
In the evenings the night auditor clocks in to perform end-of-day tasks. Working the graveyard shift, this hospitality employee is the person who reconciles the day’s transactions. If you’ve ever worked in an accounting capacity, you probably know it’s much easier to accurately balance accounts when you’re free from interruptions.
A night auditor might work a full graveyard shift or just part-time. They’re different from the overnight concierge in that they may not be hired with the expectation of checking in late-night guests or addressing their concerns; the auditor typically focuses solely on the day’s financials.
How to Become a Night Auditor
A love for the hospitality industry is a good place to start, but training for a night auditor could also include the following:
- High school diploma
- Bachelor’s degree: accounting, finance, business, hospitality
- Experience in customer service
- Experience in financial services
- Experience with reservation software
Formal degrees may not be required, but they can help you gain an advantage over the competition when applying for a night auditor job. You could also work your way into such a position by showing competency at your current job in hospitality.
Since a night auditor may be working on their own each night to perform their duties, it’s important to have good time management skills and to be motivated to work solo. Night auditors also need to be good communicators, especially in the event someone has a question about any reports they’ve generated.
What Does a Night Auditor Do?
Besides just bookkeeping during the graveyard shift, a night auditor also looks at other records:
- Room rates
- Guests’ transactions at the hotel (both cash and card)
- Business transactions with vendors
Everything that falls under the night auditor’s umbrella of responsibility is important to ensure the hotel’s assets are secure and that they’re following proper procedures for their financial recording practices. There are four common forms a night auditor may use if they manually perform their tasks:
- Daily and Supplemental Transcripts
- Guest and Non-Guest Folios
- Front Office Cash Sheets
- Audit Recapitulation Sheets
Let’s take a look at some of the night auditor tasks individually, and how a hotel can be more successful with the right software solutions.
Obviously, hotels need to know their occupancy to keep accurate financial records. It’s also important to know how many guests are on site for safety reasons. A night auditor needs to verify who checked in to their rooms, and who was a no-show. This will affect how guests are charged and give the occupancy percentage for the day.
They may also prepare invoices for any guests who are expected to check out the next day, allowing for a smooth room turnover for the front desk and housekeeping staff.
If there are any changes to the next day’s room rates, a night auditor will also ensure that information is ready to go live. Any recent promotions will be evaluated and prepared for management to review. The night auditor’s work makes it easy to see what promotions worked well, and what didn’t.
Thankfully, the right accounting software should make it straightforward to reconcile transactions throughout the day. Whether guests ordered room service, upgraded their room at check-in, or purchased something from the sundry shop, a night auditor will ensure all transactions are accounted for.
Doing so allows any cash deposits to be prepared for the next drop, and will help determine trends in guest behavior.
Any transactions between the hotel and its many vendors all need to be reconciled at the end of the night. Food orders, linen laundering, and cleaning supplies need to be tracked so invoices are paid on time, and inventory can be accurately monitored. If purchase orders are required for any supplies, the night auditor may verify the quantities and whether the PO fits within the current budget for the department.
Preparing and distributing employee payroll may also be part of a night auditor’s duties. Whether it’s physical checks or direct deposits, hours may need to be tabulated and checked by the auditor before wages are paid.
While a night auditor does deal with a lot of financial records, they may still report to a senior accountant or manager.
How Software Affects the Job
So many hospitality systems are now computer-based. Data is collected and analyzed with software that helps with accurate accounting and forecasting. Guide Technologies, for example, offers solutions for several industries based on data-driven decision-making. You can read more about their approach to analyzing data HERE.
Thanks to sophisticated hospitality software, the duties of the night auditor may be part of an automated system update. Closing the books on one day may be as simple as verifying that a system ran successfully and produced the necessary reports.
While the auditor may not manually run reports, they can cross-check them among different departments to ensure all transactions are accounted for.
Software Tools for Night Auditors
- Automatic Invoice Generators
- Automatic Bill Pay
- Automatic Credit Limits for Guests
Running these reports automatically reduces the amount of human error that can come with manual data entry. It also takes less time, which may free up the night auditor to also serve as an overnight concierge to assist guests. This can save a hotel money as they only need to pay one person to tackle the two roles. Automated night audits are also a good way for a hotel to go green, as it reduces the amount of paper needed for the myriad reports.
Everything a night auditor does can better prepare other members of the staff to do their jobs the following day. From the restaurant to upper management, accurate reconciliation provides the information the team needs to order enough food for expected occupancy and to have enough team members working each shift to provide a good experience for guests.