Debra Adams, Head of Professional Development at arena4finance, reflects on the latest edition of the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) and the impact on management reporting in the hospitality industry.
“It was with great excitement that I received my package from Amazon this morning containing my new purchase – a copy of the very shiny new blue USALI in hardback format with a One – Time Key Code to access and download the online resources to accompany the guide through the AHLEI website. With code in hand I tentatively accessed the site to download my free resources in the knowledge that if I accidently logged myself out I would potentially lose the ability to view the various spreadsheets and FAQ Factsheet available (although I’m sure the kind folk at the AHLEI IT Help Desk would be able to help me out!)”
The Uniform System was first conceived in 1926 by the Hotel Association of New York and was introduced to provide a guide for management reporting of financial results with standardised definitions and agreed calculations for the key performance indicators such as occupancy percentage, average room rate and, more recently, revenue per available room (RevPAR).
Over the years the influence of the USALI has varied in terms of its impact on operating practice but recently there has been resurgence in the importance of the USALI for providing an agreed source of definitive terms for measures such as Gross Operating Profit and Net Income. With the huge global growth in managed and franchised businesses in the hospitality industry, where some of the major players own very few of their total property portfolios, the need for an agreed set of terms and definitions has been essential for operating companies and owners alike. Gross Operating Profit is very often the basis for the calculation of management fees received by the operating company from the property owners and both parties have a keen interest in what costs fall above and below this level!
The latest edition of the Uniform System of Accounts has been published by the Hotel Association of New York and the Financial Management Committee of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA;) with funding from Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP). This edition has various material changes from the previous 10th Edition, including changes on the following topics:
These changes (recommended to be implemented by January 2015) will mean that during the changeover period, whilst introducing the recommendations of the latest edition, some anomalies will occur when benchmarking 2015 results against 2014 due to the non-comparable data; but AH&LA; argue that the impact will be negligible after one business cycle.
The publishers of the USALI do not provide a line by line guide to the difference between the 10th and 11th edition but instead offer, in the new text, a chapter focusing on selected changes.
However our colleague, industry advisor and author to the ‘Guide to the 10th Edition’, Howard Field, has already set to work on the task and provides us with this summary overview of the principle changes. The full article, published by the industry trade association HOSPA, can be viewed here.
It is also worth noting that the section on Financial Ratios and Operating Metrics has been considerably expanded with ratios for operating departments and undistributed departments as well as additional utility and waste consumption ratios to match the growing trend to measure sustainability and environmental impact in a move towards integrated reporting.
Several new ratios for Food and Beverage departments have been introduced for example, reflecting the growing interest in revenue managing these areas of the business. Suggested metrics include:
For some operators the introduction of these measures in the USALI will reflect a ‘catching up’ with current practice but we think all operators will find something new and useful in this section. The introduction of downloadable resources is a useful addition to the resource and purchasers of the Guide can now gain access to a series of spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel providing templates for:
Compliance with the USALI is, of course, voluntary, but the launch of this new edition represents a major step forward in strengthening the quality of internal reporting in the hospitality industry. In the coming weeks we will be analysing the recommendations in each section of the Guide in more detail to provide you with an update on the key changes and developments.
During the autumn of 2014 we will be offering short courses, in partnership with HOSPA, to update financial controllers on the revisions contained within the 11th Edition of the USALI. Please keep an eye out for the announcement of these training sessions or to register your interest, please email Wayne Gosden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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