Why Every Hotel Leader Needs to be a Financial Leader

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Driven by consumer desires for new experiences, innovative technologies and environmental impacts – travel is changing. Host Sarah Dandashy explores the technologies and logistics that power travel and the brands that build unforgettable experiences.

 

The financial side of hospitality isn’t as sexy as other parts, but it is, of course, what determines success. In the hotel world, knowing the numbers translates to individual and organizational success. Diving into this diverse topic, host Sarah Dandashy spoke with David Lund, The Hotel Financial Coach.

Lund spent 30 years with a large hotel brand, starting in operations then shifting to financial roles. What he learned was that non-financial folks in the business had no understanding of the numbers. This epiphany resulted in leaving his day job and starting The Hotel Financial Coach, training, teaching, and speaking on financial leadership.

Lund stressed that every department head needs financial literacy. “Leaders need to be fully functional, managing their departments and their numbers,” he said.

That insight is more important now after a disruptive year, one that came after 100 straight months of gains, leaving many hotel leaders complacent. “After so much demand, now brands have to reinvent themselves,” Lund noted.

During the pandemic, he thought about what hospitality would look like if it didn’t exist and someone was dreaming it up. “What we wouldn’t see is the departmentality and silos. Instead, the model would be more multi-functional.”

To do that, he offered some great tips. “Embrace technology and get a hold of your numbers. Half the hotels I talk to don’t get monthly financial statements, only once a year. How can you improve when you don’t know the score?”

Lund also emphasized that an accounting degree isn’t a necessity to learn the numbers. He said, “Know your staffing formulas and how to manage expenses. Get fascinated by what your expenses are and control them. Being able to speak to the bottom line and strategy—that’s financial leadership.”

Looking ahead to recovery for the industry, Lund replied, “It depends on your location and segment. So, recovery is from a segmentation point of view. Extended stays and resorts had good years in 2020. Next will be those that serve business travelers, and the last will be international business.”

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