The value of good finance

15 April 2011
The value of good finance

The revenue manager's role is becoming as lauded as any TV chef, says Debra Adams, head of education, British Association of Hospitality Accountants

When today's school leavers think about a career in the hospitality industry, it is no surprise they think in terms of high profile chefs, charismatic hotel managers and hard working restaurant owners. Certainly, in recent times, interest in these roles has surged following high profile TV shows such as Michel Roux's Service and The Hotel Inspector.

Less obvious, but nevertheless vital, roles in any hospitality business include managing the finances and the revenue. These roles require numeracy, analytical skills, strategic insight and the ability to effectively communicate information to managers throughout the business.

The typical general manager needs regular information in a clear format, focusing on the key performance indicators - such as revenue analysis, profit margins and cash flow measures for the operation - and business analysts must ensure provision of this.

In the hospitality industry, it is often unnecessary to be a qualified accountant to enter in to a career in a finance role. But in today's business world, gaining a qualification has become a necessity and will lead to increased opportunities and a higher salary.

There are several fully recognised professional bodies whose members are classified as ‘qualified finance professionals' and the form of qualification you select depends on the needs of the business and future career aspirations.

Traditionally, careers in finance have meant a back office- and spreadsheet-focused role, emphasising control and audit. But in business today, the provision of accurate and relevant information is key to business development and competitive advantage. And those working as finance professionals in hospitality contribute to many key aspects of the business strategy - including planning, forecasting, IT projects, revenue management and pricing strategies.

A new analytical role is emerging across the hospitality sector: revenue manager. Revenue management, as a discipline, takes its lead from the airline industries where similar conditions apply - fixed capacity, segmented demand and high fixed costs. The key activity is managing the demand for a perishable product through the control of price and inventory; and is a pivotal role that can link the back-of-house finance department with the sales and marketing team at the customer-interface.

There are a number of ways to launch a career in these key areas, but membership of an appropriate professional body really helps. The British Association of Hospitality Accountants is one that offers workshops and seminars in finance, revenue and IT management. In addition to these, more in-depth learning can be gained from the part-time flexible study programmes. They may not become TV stars, but the revenue managers of tomorrow have a bright future.

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