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The Brief Guide to Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) in Hotel Accounting

The sector-wide standard for hotel accounting practices, the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) has been in operation in some form or other since 1926. Its primary functions have been to provide hotel managers, owners, and other relevant stakeholders with operating statements, and to be able to run comparative analyses across different business areas. The 11th edition of USALI was released in 2015, requiring hotels to update how they reported accounting and financial data and introducing many new changes.

The Key Changes in the 11th Edition of USALI

USALI 11th edition was the first version since the system’s origins in 1926 to include a date to take effect, the purpose of which was to obligate all organizations to be up to speed in a punctual way. The 11th edition introduced some very important changes with regard to a number of key areas to improve benchmarking comparison across the industry and within hotel groups with numerous properties in their portfolio.

Comparability analysis with competitors is, of course, a crucial function of the USALI - the 11th edition updated its comparability performance by enabling the deletion of individual line items while not allowing for amendments or replacement items. The purpose of this is to guarantee that organizations are benchmarking with accurate comparison data, and therefore, generating results based on precise revenue and expense comparison points.

To help businesses fully understand the USALI in its eleventh edition, it provides exhaustive guidance via an online resource page. This resource offers accounting help right down to the smallest reporting detail.

There are many changes from the tenth to the eleventh USALI editions. Here are some examples:

Operating metrics and financial ratios

Key ratios for every department

Ratios for undistributed and operating departments

Food and beverage

Food and drinks on the same schedule

“Customer” replaces the word “cover”

Summary operating statement

“EBITDA” replaces the term “Net Operating Income”

“Operating revenue” replaces the term “revenue”


Resort fees now under Miscellaneous Income

Expansion of room revenue sources

The broadening of item lines and greater specificity that UCALI 11th edition has introduced was a necessary step to reflect the new ways that the industry operates in and the much higher and detailed levels of competition across the sector. The increased complexity of the modern-day hotel industry requires an accounting system that takes into consideration each and every detail.

Extra note: In 2018, HFTP acquired the copyright to the USALI.

Should your hotel apply the USALI to its accounting process?

USALI offers a number of important advantages to hotels. These include the following:

  1. Accounting and reporting uniformity

  2. Ease of comparability with your industry for valuable business insights

  3. Greater accountability for individual departments

  4. Performance data down to a granular level

  5. A high degree of flexibility and ease of use

USALI makes performance comparability much easier, whether it is with the broader industry or, for chain hotel organizations, comparing and contrasting results for each property. It can pinpoint exactly where you are performing well and where you are lagging behind.

The high degree of accuracy and the sheer breadth and depth of accounting coverage that USALI provides can facilitate efficient subsequent business decisions that can drive optimized success.

The final word: USALI and your hotel

USALI’s upgraded version expanded to include new financial ratios and operating metrics, and a broad range of line items across 14 departmental schedules. It also comes with an extensive online guidance resource to help your hotel in reporting and analyzing financial and accounting data, as well as benchmarking and interpreting results in the interests of making the best decisions to improve your hotel’s overall performance. It is an industry-authoritative system to help launch your hotel to enhanced and prolonged success.

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