Financial Management Guide for Hospitality Businesses

If there’s one thing that’s predictable in the hospitality industry, it’s the financial unpredictability caused by seasonal variation. The ups and downs of ‘high’ and ‘low’ seasons mean that, for many hospitality businesses, the financial picture is difficult to anticipate from one year to the next. 

A cancelled annual event could lead to poor financial performance in a week when business would usually be booming. Unseasonably good weather in a typically quiet month could see profits soar unexpectedly. All this makes financial management particularly challenging for hospitality businesses. 

In this guide, we’ll examine how to navigate the highs and lows of seasonal variation when it comes to managing business finances. We’ll look at managing seasonal cash flows, budgeting for typically quiet and busy periods, and how to handle unexpected seasonal outcomes. Let’s dive in. 

The power of financial management in navigating seasonal variation 

For any business, financial management is crucial. Put simply, it involves planning and organising a business’s finances and making strategic decisions about spending. This isn’t just about ensuring that a business can cover its operational costs. Financial management also helps businesses take advantage of opportunities for growth and avoid and solve cash flow problems.

This is particularly important in the hospitality industry, where seasonal variation can have a significant impact on a business’s financial performance. While business owners can’t control the peaks and troughs brought about by seasonal changes, they can control how they prepare for and respond to them. Proactive financial management is therefore an essential practice for any business owner in the financial industry. 

Financial Management for Hospitality Businesses - hotel reception with guests and receptionist

How to navigate the financial challenges of seasonal fluctuation

So what does good financial management look like in the hospitality industry? There are several techniques and strategies that can help business owners address the challenges and seize the opportunities that seasonal variation brings about. These include: 

Adopting dynamic strategies to maximise revenue when demand is at its highest;

Implementing cost-saving measures during off-peak periods;

Planning and executing strategic marketing campaigns to bring in additional business during the ‘off’ season;

Approaching staffing in a flexible manner to align with seasonal fluctuations.

How technology can help with managing cash flow all year round 

Financial management can be a difficult practice for any business owner to master. In the hospitality industry – with its many pressures and demands – business owners can find it particularly challenging to invest the time it takes to plan and manage the business’s finances.

Fortunately, technology is at hand. A bookkeeping automation tool like Dext can help businesses use real-time insights from their expenses data to manage and plan cash flow while navigating the ups and downs of seasonal variation. 

1. Real-time visibility of expenses

Dext provides a quick and easy way for business owners, accountants and bookkeepers to track and manage expenses data to keep their financial records up to date. Driven by state-of-the-art AI, Dext uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to extract key details from receipts and invoices with a 99% level of accuracy. There’s no manual data entry required: all business owners need to do is take a photo of an invoice/receipt, forward it via email or upload it directly – there are several submission methods to make life easy! 

The software then automatically stores and categorises transactions based on the data it extracts, providing business owners with real-time visibility of their expenses and revenue. In the hospitality industry, this up-to-to-the-minute insight is particularly valuable. Business owners can make better decisions about spending that align with the shifting financial picture as seasonal variation ebbs and flows. 

2. Automated expense tracking and categorisation

Dext makes tracking expenses incredibly straightforward. Every receipt scanned is safely stored in the cloud, making it easy to organise, access and review. The expense data can also be integrated into the business’s financial reports.

Using AI and Machine Learning, Dext automatically suggests categories for each expense uploaded. Supplier, item, event, value… it’s all in there and the more you use it, the more it learns. As these suggestions become more accurate, business owners are gradually able to spend less time checking them. Before long, they can simply approve the suggested categorisations with the push of a button and send to their accounting software of choice.

The result? With ready access to organised and categorised expenses data, hospitality business owners are in a better position to plan. By automating expense tracking and categorisation – two processes that would traditionally have taken a great deal of time – the software frees up time for them to focus on strategic activities like financial management and planning.

3. Integration with accounting software 

Dext integrates with leading accounting software like Xero, Sage and Quickbooks to import transactions seamlessly into the business’s accounts. This provides business owners – and their accountants and bookkeepers – with instant access to up-to-date and accurate expenses data. It’s not only critical to ensure compliance, but also manage cash flow more easily.

Real-time insights into how seasonal variations affect their business’s financial performance is crucial for forecasting and budgeting. As a result, they can spot patterns, opportunities and signs of risk as they happen, and make the necessary adjustments to spending right away. 

Financial Management for Hospitality Businesses - bar staff discussing budget

Supporting hospitality businesses through the ups and downs of seasonal variation

Seasonal variation is part and parcel of operating in the hospitality industry. For example: researches show that restaurants can expect a 32% increase in visits on Valentine’s Day. Most hospitality businesses can expect peaks in the summer months and around the Christmas period. Similarly, there are likely to be troughs during poor weather months and at the start of the year. 

Hospitality industry is all about planning, forecasting, budgeting, access to short term debt to cover the quieter periods. Financial management and budgeting can help business owners navigate these inevitable ups and downs – and Dext is here to support hospitality business owners keeping track of their expenses data for better planning. 

By providing quick and easy access to accurate expense management and real-time insight into their business finances, the bookkeeping tool can be a powerful tool to support financial management and budgeting. Dext also allows them to save time by automating repetitive tasks and processes – such as manual data entry – that would otherwise take huge amounts of their time. 

Learn more about how Dext can help you streamline financial management in your hospitality business.

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