Interpreting and Auditing Hotel Accounts in 2016 - Part 4 The Hotel Operating Statement

Hotel management and financial reporting continued; the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI)

This part of the series concentrates on the format and content of the Summary Operating Statement.  Hotel accounts prepared by almost all of the major local, national and international chains and many independent properties will have based their reporting on the USALI, and should by now be using the format shown as from the Eleventh Revised Edition published in 2014.  For anyone involved in auditing or interpreting USALI hotel accounts, access to the full book is essential to extend your knowledge beyond the content of these articles.

The operating statement summarises the data derived from schedules that cover the various sources of revenues, and direct and indirect costs.  As will be shown in subsequent parts of this series, there is a logical split between the profit and cost centres of the hotel, and the application of activity and responsibility accounting principles.

All references are to the current edition of the USALI, that was intend to be adopted from 1 January 2015.  There are many hotels and companies that have not updated their reporting to this version.  What is important to note is that there have been significant changes in the last two editions (some dating back at least 10 years), and that where hotels are committed to producing their operating accounts in conformity with the Uniform System, they must now use the 11th Revised Edition’s standards.  



Key Features of the Summary Operating Statement

Statistics

The Rooms statistics shown at the top of the schedule are standard performance indicators related solely to the revenues derived from the letting of bedrooms.  The USALI defines each of these in detail, so that data from hotels that follow the standards can in theory be compared on a like for like basis. However, when benchmarking or competitive data is being interpreted care must be taken to identify variations in practices and the validity of the comparisons.

  • Rooms Available includes the number of bedrooms in the hotel available for letting to guests.  In certain circumstances this number will vary.  They may be reduced for seasonal operations or where significant numbers of rooms are being refurbished. Whether or not suites that include more than one bedroom counts as one or more units can depend on whether the additional bedrooms can be let separately.
  • Rooms Sold should only include those for which revenue has been received, therefore excluding any rooms provided on a complimentary basis (defined as being for owners, friends, family, employees etc).  Extra room nights that are derived from promotions or as part of a group arrangement for which revenues were received count as sold, even though these are ‘free’.  
  • Occupancy in the USALI is based on the number of Rooms Sold as a percentage of Rooms Available during the period.  That is, the USALI standard definition for occupancy excludes Complimentary guests.  A statistic for Total Rooms Occupied including Complimentary rooms is not shown - but can be used.  Care should be taken to determine which option applies to data being reviewed.
  • ADR average daily rate (average room rate) is derived from dividing the Total Rooms Revenue net of VAT by the number of Rooms Sold.  ADRs can be materially affected by the sales mix.  In two hotels with the same number or rooms, one hotel with suites let at higher rates that its standard rooms, may show a high ADR compared with its competitor even though the competitor achieved a higher total revenue.  A high ADR on its own does not give any indication of total revenue.  Note that some hotels may use Total Rooms Occupied for this calculation.
  • Total Rooms RevPAR is the Total Rooms Revenue divided by the number of Rooms Available.  This statistic enables a judgement to be made about the performance of the hotel’s rooms letting based on its full capacity.  It is an important trend measurement and has greater validity when used to benchmark against budgets and other hotels.  However, it only refers to revenue from letting of rooms accommodation.
  • Total RevPAR is the Total Operating Revenue divided by the number of Rooms Available.  This statistic incorporates all of the hotel’s operating revenue sources and uses the number of rooms to measure the yield of the property against comparable units.  As will be shown later, this is a more relevant comparator for benchmarking but it must be seen in the context of the range of facilities and sizes of the properties against which comparisons are being made.

The operating statistics that are shown on the Summary Operating Statement are only a small number of those contained in the USALI.  A whole section of the book covers many others and provides standard definitions.   A strength of the USALI is to make common the terminology and formulas involved.  Later articles will explore this section more fully.

Financial reporting elements of the Summary Operating Statement

The line items on the summary statement are, as already mentioned, derived from more detailed supporting schedules.  They are a minimum presentation to enable the overall performance of the hotel to be measured.  The principles behind the USALI approach to the preparation of operating statements combine accounting for activities, responsibilities and levels of control.  Data for the current period and year to date is included, alongside comparisons to budget and prior year.  

The most important financial elements of the statement for external users in particular are Total Operating Revenue, Gross Operating Profit, Management Fees and EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation).  The latter being the profit figure from the hotel’s operating statement that can be directly reconciled to its financial accounts.  Why these particular lines are so important and how they relate between the operating and financial accounts will be further explained.

Revenue
is just four lines, showing the totals of the revenues categorised as: 

Rooms includes income from the letting of guest rooms.  There is extensive coverage in the USALI of exactly what is included in this category, and how package and inclusive prices are handled.  This will be explored in detail.

Food and Beverage
includes revenues from restaurants, bars, in-room dining (room service`) and mini bars, banqueting and conferences, meeting and function rooms.

Other Operated Departments
examples of which are referred to in the USALI include Health Club/Spa, Golf, Parking, Retail, Business Centre - and Minor Operated Departments such as Vending machines and kiosks, in-room movies, guest communications. 

Miscellaneous Income
being that arising from indirect sources or not treated by the USALI as from operated departments.  Included are rented spaces for gift shops or other guest related service providers, commissions received and cash discounts earned.  Others that can be material and that arise from the main operated departments include revenues arising from cancellations made after a contracted cutoff date or time, and where income is received from groups where not all the guaranteed reservations were taken up (called attrition).  Also surpluses or deficits from components of a package unused or not charged for (called package breakage) are credited here.  

Total Operating Revenue
is the result of adding all of the above.  This is called Operating Revenue as the latest edition of the USALI introduced a Non-Operating Income category that is shown below the Gross Operating Profit level.  The term Total Operating Revenue was introduced in this latest edition of the USALI.  Many hotel management agreements, leases, franchise agreements, funding and related legal documents may have definitions of revenue that do not coincide with this version. 

Auditing of certifying revenue or profits for a hotel requires an understanding of how and where the Uniform System treats each relevant element.  What has been covered so far is just the beginning. The next parts will cover more fully the Summary Operating Statement, before moving into the details of how each revenue and cost line is generated.

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