During the 2018 hurricane season, 15 named storms made landfall, including eight hurricanes, of which two, Florence and Michael, became major storms. Fortunately, experts are predicting a lower probability of heavy storm activity for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Still, hoteliers should always prepare for the potential of flooding, wind damage and power outages that comes with the hurricane season.
In addition to ensuring the safety of staff and guests with an emergency plan, there are three proactive measures that every GM and owner should take to protect and maintain their financial systems before the start of hurricane season.
1: Switch to a cloud-based accounting provider
Having a room full of dedicated servers won’t cut it anymore for a number of reasons. Aside from the maintenance and costs, your entire infrastructure could be severely damaged or totally wiped away in the event of a hurricane. In this case, your teams are totally paralyzed—they can’t work remotely, access critical information or even attempt to get the hotel back online.
A cloud-based solution helps reduce complexity by the elimination of servers, disaster recovery and backups, allowing for hoteliers and staff to access information from any remote location. Easy retrieval within financial statements and other modules eliminates the need for any sort of ramp-up period, allowing teams to get back to work in no time.
When it comes to choosing an accounting software, hoteliers need to minimize the risk of losing invaluable data by investing in a private, cloud-based solution that can store data safely in redundant locations and provide a zero unscheduled downtime solution in the event of a hurricane.
In my experience, customers have peace of mind when they invest in a secure cloud-based solution, which is deployed using multiple, redundant QTS Tier 3 hosting facilities in numerous geographic locations, where access is closely monitored. This ensures that data is protected, regardless of any storm activity that may be occurring in different locations during hurricane season. Customers’ data is stored in individual databases, which can only be accessed by successfully navigating multiple security gateways via valid credentials, with security permissions both at the network and database level.
In the event of an evacuation, a cloud-based software ultimately will help manage the influx of accounting and financial data for hoteliers, allowing them to access key business metrics anytime, anywhere.
2: Partner with a flexible accounting software with back-up options
It is imperative that hoteliers partner with tech solutions that can jump right in to fill the gaps in the event the unexpected happens. Whether a natural disaster or sudden fluctuation in staff or workload, an on-demand accounting team can deliver the greatest value to an organization where it is needed most to ensure that business operates as usual.
The seasonality of the hospitality industry alone is a good reason for hoteliers to ensure the option of quickly onboarding an on-demand accounting team that can scale with your needs. Throw a natural disaster or another interruption in the mix and it can make all the difference in the world.
In the event of a hurricane, on-demand accountants can be a lifesaver when a hotel’s accounting staff is scattered or unable to connect because they can swoop in to help with all of the financial data, so the business isn’t missing a beat before, during and after the storm.
While hoteliers try their best to forecast, the smart ones know that they should partner with financial solutions customized to fit their needs—from basic accounting functions provided on an a la carte basis to comprehensive management of the full accounting cycle. That way, hoteliers are free to request services in accordance with their changing needs, eradicating inflexible and nonvariable overheads that can negatively affect return on investment.
Hotels live or die on the ebb and flow of fluctuations in their business. In-house accounting teams are regularly affected by a variety of foreseeable events such as seasonality, portfolio turnover and one-time events, but also unexpected events such as a natural disaster. This year will be no exception. Hoteliers must expect the best but prepare for the worst and have a back-up accounting team in place ready to resume operations in the event of a hurricane. Whether the needs are short-term or necessitate a longer plan, hotel-specific accountants can scale on demand to offer the needed expertise and ramp up quickly.
3: Ensure your provider offers services tailor-made for the hotel industry
When searching for financial services, many hoteliers are enticed by the promises of an enterprise resource planning solution, only to find that the one-size-fits-all approach, add-ons and contracts are anything but flexible. Inflexibility is not an option when hoteliers are in hurricane-prone locations. That’s why it is essential to find a hotel-specific solution in an accounting partner that understands the needs of the hotelier industry inside and out.
Hotels have a unique set of financial needs that, in turn, require industry-specific accounting expertise. Hoteliers should invest in a company that has experience working with clients through the unexpected—whether its short-term staffing shortages or long-term downtime in the wake of a hurricane. Hoteliers should work with a team that has decades of hotel-specific accounting expertise and has navigated many difficult scenarios for its clients.
Taking each of these steps into consideration, hoteliers should strive to adopt a solution that ensures the safety and security of their accounting data as part of their natural disaster plan.
Ultimately, Mother Nature is unpredictable. That’s why the combination of a cloud-based provider with on-demand accountants and financial solutions addressing the specific needs of the hospitality industry gives hoteliers the peace of mind to access critical information and get the property back online after a disaster strikes.
Scott Watson is executive VP of sales and marketing and a partner at M3, a accounting and analytics company that offers an integrated suite of hospitality accounting and operational reporting products.