By Alyssa Callahan
Payment automation (PA) solutions have been around for more than a decade and now represent a full-fledged business model. Solution providers support AP teams as they replace their outrageously manual processes and give them the tools they need to drive a successful operation.
For years, hospitality businesses have faced the challenges of using a paper-reliant process for both domestic and international payments. Here are five ways that the hospitality industry can benefit from an automated back office.
- Limit paper use and multiple payment efforts
The “paper problem” is usually what instigates businesses to begin looking for alternative payment methods. Accounting teams use more paper than they often realize. Minimizing paper dependency isn’t just for “green-conscious” companies—though that is a positive side-effect. Removing paper from the equation means that AP teams can get payments approved, checks signed and payments submitted digitally, through a single workflow.
In the hospitality industry, it’s relatively common for check-signers to spend time at different locations, making the check-signing process exceedingly tricky and time-consuming. Shifting to an electronic process with single sign-on capabilities enables check-signers to approve checks from anywhere, getting the process going much faster. AP teams can now reallocate the time they once spent on manual tasks like printing checks, stuffing envelopes and driving to the post office.
- Consolidate data into meaningful reports
To place band-aid solutions over process issues, companies sometimes neglect to ensure that each solution they adopt can communicate with the others. As such, much of the data they could use to track their spending falls through the cracks and becomes unusable.
Using an electronic payment solution that integrates with existing ERPs enables companies to compose reports using data from different areas. This gives the entire finance and C-suite team the ability to understand their spending from a holistic perspective and provides insights into the best ways to move forward.
Companies can find themselves drowning in data with no time to makes heads or tails of it. Setting up an electronic payment system can enable you to connect the band-aid solutions and compiles the information into meaningful reports.
- Minimize error and refund instances
Accounting mistakes happen, and they can be very painful and time-consuming to track and reverse. This is where payment automation solutions shine. Because they support accounting teams, software can often locate payment errors like duplicate payments before they become an issue.
In this way, automated software reduces the number of small errors, leaving more time to focus on rarer, but more complex, payment issues.
- Customer service for customer service masters
In hospitality, customer service is paramount. The industry knows the importance of consistent customer service. As such, the hospitality industry knows what excellent support looks like, and that service should extend to their partners.
Payment automation companies differ vastly in this particular area, so it’s essential to take the time to find a solution that shares your service values. Ensure that they will represent your business well when interacting with your suppliers. And of course, it’s essential to find a solution that responds swiftly and professionally to support your AP team.
- Centralized accounting possibilities
Electronic payment solutions have the unique ability to meet individual company needs. It can either act as a tool to maintain independence among various locations or centralize accounting efforts by creating a single account that all payments flow through.
Companies that try to centralize their accounting efforts on their own can face a nightmare of epic proportions. Finding a solution that supports consolidation efforts goes a long way to removing that strain.
The hospitality industry has been moving to electronic methods steadily over the last few years. Still, it’s certainly daunting to remove old, familiar processes. Even though those methods are tried and true, many of them are decades old. What worked well in a different time is now the ball and chain that keeps AP teams from pure efficiency. Over the last ten years, electronic solutions have become the new tried-and-true method, proven to reduce workloads and improve supplier relationships.
The hospitality industry benefits the most from the freedom that payment automation provides. It enables their AP teams to become a flexible, yet mighty force.
Alyssa Callahan is the Content Strategist at Nvoicepay, a Fleetcor company.
This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.