Hospitality is a 24/7 business, and while a good night’s sleep is a priority for guests, there is still plenty of work to be done between last orders and setting up for breakfast. One of the key roles to fill during the night shift is that of the night auditor – ostensibly an accounting position, but one which often becomes far more varied than mere number-crunching. In fact, when the sun goes down, the night auditors in some smaller hotels may be responsible for everything that goes on in the hotel as the only member of staff on the premises.
The main role of the night auditor is to make sure that the guest ledger is updated at the end of the day – to midnight – and that everything is correct. That is, the correct room rates have been applied form all registered guests, and any additional charges made for other services appear correctly in the folio of the guest and can be matched to the corresponding entry in the records of the department concerned. Similarly, all transactions processed by each department must be correctly matched to the guest folios. The system used for checking in and checking out of the hotel must also be updated to make sure all the information has been entered correctly. If any guests are scheduled to check out the next day, the final invoice can be prepared in the guest folio so it will be ready for the front desk staff the next morning.
In addition to the accounting role, which must be performed for every guest/room every day, there may be additional duties for the night auditor. In small hotels, the night auditor may also have to perform front desk duties during the night, with responsibility for answering phone calls, handling guest requests, making wake-up calls, and checking guests in or out if this has to be done before the regular staff are back on duty. On the other hand, many night auditors reports that once the accounts are done they may have relatively little work to do for the duration of their shifts, especially if there are few guests around.
The main drawbacks to the role include the unsociable working hours and the isolation. Working nights can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythms, forcing people to remain awake at the time when their working performance is likely to be at its weakest, and can have a detrimental effect upon health over the long term. It is also the case that guests can be at their least amenable during the small hours, as tiredness or alcohol can increase their general levels of irritability. At the very least, night auditors should expect to be paid more than their daytime counterparts in compensation for the extra challenges they face.
One way to relieve the burden upon the night auditor is to use property management system (PMS) software. This can turn a time-consuming task into a much more simple process when everything is automated, which is a huge advantage in larger hotels where the audit would traditionally occupy most of the night. In addition, the use of a suitable PMS can allow the hotel’s management staff to track various statistics such as ADR and RevPAR on a daily basis, lending further support to such matters as revenue management and the adjustment of pricing strategies.
In short, the job of a night auditor is one which is essential in ensuring that all the day-to-day transactions are processed correctly as business is wrapped up at the end of each day. The job will become easier as more hotels employ PMS software, but for those with a keen eye for detail, the ability to work independently, and a willingness to work the shifts that nobody else wants, there will always be a demand for night auditors.