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A night auditor is a person who works at night at the reception of a hotel. They typically handle both the duties of the front desk agent and some of the duties of the accounting department. This is necessitated by the fact that most fiscal days close at or around midnight, and the normal workday of the employees in the accounting department does not extend to cover this time of day.
In larger hotels, night auditors may work alongside other nighttime employees, such as security officers, telephone attendants, room service attendants, and bellhops. In smaller hotels and motels, the night auditor may work alone, and may even only be "on-call", meaning that once he or she completes running the daily reports, the auditor retires to an area away from the desk while remaining available to attend to unexpected requests from guests. In the smallest hotels and some bed and breakfast establishments, the front desk may close entirely overnight. Guests in such facilities are typically given a contact number for an employee or manager, who may be sleeping on the premises or live nearby, for use in case of emergency.
The night audit itself is an audit of the guest ledger. The guest ledger (or front office ledger or transient ledger) is the collection of all accounts receivable for currently registered guests. It can also be defined as the collection of all guest folios. A folio (billing receipt) is the account of an individual guest who is currently registered. The guest ledger is distinct from the city ledger, which is the collection of accounts receivable for non-registered guests (such as credit card companies). The purpose of the night auditor is, but is not limited to, ensuring the accuracy of all financial information, and gathering all needed paperwork to complete the audit. This will include pulling any or all checked-out guests' registration cards, and making sure all guests are checked-out in the system that should be checked-out.
One task of the night auditor is posting the day's room rate and room tax to each guest folio at the close of business (which usually occurs from midnight to 2 AM).
Second, the night auditor must ensure the accuracy of the charges to the guest folios, ensuring that the sum of revenues due to accounts receivable from the various departments (i.e. Food & Beverage, Rooms, gift shop) found on the department control sheets equals the sum of the charges made to the guest folios.
The folios for guests who are scheduled to depart the next morning may be printed and delivered to the guests' rooms.
Most hotels currently use computerized property management systems (PMS) to help perform the night audit. This has significantly reduced the amount of time required to perform the audit, as well as the arithmetic skill required of the auditor. An audit for a 1,000-room hotel can be completed in one hour with a PMS, whereas it would have taken an eight-hour shift using previous generation technology (the NCR 4200 mechanical system).
Front desk function
In addition to the accounting function, night auditors may also be required to perform the typical front desk functions during the graveyard shift. These functions include check-in, check-out, reservations, responding to guest complaints, coordinating housekeeping requests, and handling any emergencies that may arise.
Night auditors may work alongside a security officer to maintain a level of security during late-night hours for both night staff and guests. In addition to balancing the guest ledger, the night auditor is usually responsible for balancing the city ledger and the advance ledger. The city ledger consists of monies owed to the hotel by credit card companies and direct bill accounts. The city ledger also contains house accounts, such as management dry cleaning charges, or local phone call charges which are usually adjusted (written) off at the end of each month. The advance ledger is aptly named because it is a ledger for guests who have sent money in advance to either pay for or guarantee their stay. These funds are posted to the advance ledger when received by the hotel, and then transferred to the guests folio (in the guest ledger) upon arrival of that guest.