How Hotels Can Leverage Financial Integration to Boost Efficiency and Profitability

Within a hotel organization’s finance and accounting departments, the importance of system integration cannot be overstated. Ensuring that all elements of the tech stack complement each other’s capabilities not only streamlines critical property processes, but also enhances accuracy, transparency, and overall productivity.
By Jill Wilder, President of Aptech Computer Systems - 4.10.2024

As the travel market continues to evolve, with occupancy levels exhibiting extraordinary growth in most major markets around the world, today’s hoteliers are facing an array of challenges in managing their operations efficiently. From guest experience enhancement to the digitization of financial and operational management, ensuring the seamless integration of disparate property systems has become paramount for success. Particularly within a hotel organization’s finance and accounting departments, the importance of system integration cannot be overstated. Ensuring that all elements of the tech stack complement each other’s capabilities not only streamlines critical property processes, but also enhances accuracy, transparency, and overall productivity.

When asking hotel customers to identify their top concerns this year, as well as any pain points that they are experiencing that inhibit both operational efficiency and profitability, the answer is typically “integration.” Sharing data from one back-office system to another can be tricky, and it has a tendency to get even more difficult when one of the integration partners has a reputation for not playing nicely with others. However, just as hoteliers have options in the financial management software they use, software solution providers can decide which partners they choose to integrate with. The success of any software company is based on demand, so those that are not integration friendly will be labeled as such and may lose considerable market share if they do collaborate effectively with other critical systems. 

One of the biggest challenges surrounding a hotel organization’s back-office software connectivity is the element of time. Most hoteliers today are working with reduced staff and budgets, so they typically do not have time to wait for complex integrations to be developed and deployed. Corporate teams are trying to streamline their internal processes to get better ROI and maximize the bottom line, and finance teams are being required to wear multiple hats. Many are either not qualified to oversee technical integration processes or they are already overloaded with managing an ever-growing number of daily financial transactions. Without effective system integration, however, managing these transactions can quickly become a logistical nightmare.

Automating Routine Tasks

One of the primary benefits of efficient system integration in the finance and accounting department is the automation of routine tasks. By connecting disparate systems, hotels can automate invoice generation, payment processing, payroll, inventory management, financial reporting and more. This not only reduces the risk of human error, but it also frees up valuable time for staff to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as developing actionable business intelligence or strategizing over budgeting and forecasting.

Moreover, seamless system integration enhances data accuracy and consistency across different departments within the organization. When systems are siloed and staff is required to manually transfer information between them, there is a much higher likelihood of discrepancies and inconsistencies in the resulting data. By integrating financial systems with other data-producing operational systems, data flows seamlessly, ensuring that property leadership are decision makers are working with the most up-to-date and accurate information for planning purposes.

In determining the importance of financial system integration, the following factors should be considered:

  • Invoice Automation — Integration between a hotel’s accounting system and AP Automation or invoicing will enable accounting teams to eliminate manual data entry error and save considerable time processing invoices. Staff can upload paper and electronic invoices in bulk and eliminate 90% of vendor invoice processing. Through this type of integration, finance teams can capture and process a much larger volume of invoices, reducing manual data entry and errors; gain real-time visibility into expenses to make informed financial decisions; customize approval workflows to fit unique business processes; and better manage vendor relationships and negotiate better terms.
  • Bank Reconciliation – Effective integration between the property or group accounting system and a data network platform will enable hotel finance teams to achieve seamless and secure access to thousands of financial accounts for simplified, automated bank reconciliation. This type of integration leverages a hotel’s financial security measures and minimizes the security risks associated with handling sensitive financial information.
  • Purchasing and Inventory Control – Integration between the hotel accounting system software and secondary purchasing solutions delivers better control over purchase orders, invoicing, budgeting, order delivery, flexible payment options and invoice imaging. Connecting these two systems through software integration also helps eliminate redundancy and saves time, as well as avoiding input errors and mishaps with missing statements. It also ensures that vendors are paid on time and that the property never runs out of the merchandise and amenities most in demand by guests. 

Hotel financial system integration also facilitates better visibility and transparency. With integrated systems, property management and finance teams share real-time access to key financial metrics and performance indicators. This allows them to monitor revenue, expenses and profitability in real time, enabling faster and more accurate decision-making and more proactive management of financial resources. Additionally, integrated systems provide a centralized repository for financial data, making it easier to track and audit transactions, comply with regulatory requirements and prepare financial statements.

From a strategic standpoint, system integration also fosters innovation and agility within the hotel’s finance department. By leveraging integrated systems, hotels can easily adopt new technologies and adapt to changing market trends. Whether it’s implementing mobile payment solutions or incorporating data analytics tools, integrated property systems provide the flexibility and scalability needed to stay competitive in rapidly evolving market conditions.

By automating routine tasks, enhancing data accuracy and transparency and improving financial visibility, integrated systems are enabling today’s hoteliers to operate more efficiently, make more informed decisions, and ultimately drive a higher level of business success. As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, hotels that embrace financial system integration will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge in the market.

With that in mind, it’s more important than ever before to make sure the financial software solution provider you choose “plays well with others” and is open to sharing data with other technology solutions and internal systems. Doing due diligence on this before determining the right partner for your hotel or group is the key to ensuring success in 2024 and beyond.

Jill Wilder is President of Aptech Computer Systems Inc., the only provider of a fully integrated enterprise accounting, business intelligence and planning ecosystem to the hospitality industry. Aptech’s Business Intelligence, Enterprise Accounting, and Budgeting & Forecasting solutions help hoteliers at the corporate and property levels understand their financial and operational data for faster goal achievement. Aptech’s award-winning solutions include PVNG, Execuvue® and Targetvue, which comprise an integrated technology ecosystem designed to help hoteliers at both the corporate and property levels understand their financial and operational data and provide actionable insights. The company was recently named a finalist for the second consecutive year in the Hotel Tech Awards by Hotel Tech Report in the category of Best Finance & Hotel Accounting Software. Wilder had served as Aptech’s vice president for 22 years, and has been with the company since 1986 before being appointed as president earlier this year.

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