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Paperwork involved in running a hotel

When it comes to the paperwork that is included in running a hotel, then the one thing that will come across loud and clear to you is that there can be a lot of it even if a number of the areas have since gone digital.

However, just because there can be that proverbial mountain does not have to mean that you should end up feeling particularly swamped by the paperwork as long as you know how to handle it correctly.

First, we should look at the different things that you will have to keep on top of in your role as the general manager of the hotel because even though departmental heads will also do their bit, everything does eventually end up on your shoulders to make sure that everything is being done as planned.

Guest paperwork

It is always important that you keep track of the paperwork that is related to the guests that are staying in the hotel at any given time. It will show you who is staying in which room and for how long. This will also allow you to check the dates when they are checking in and checking out leading to you gaining some knowledge connected to the actual revenue of the hotel.

With this paperwork, it is important that you check that staff are completing things as they are trained to do, and that includes collecting together all of the information about the guest that allows you to compile a record of their stay on the main database.

It is also worth noting that the checking out paperwork is just as important because you want to be sure that everything is being recorded correctly at all times.

Night Audits

The importance of night audits is that it tells you what happened at the end of the day, any issues, and also what was then done about it. This paperwork must be consulted at the beginning of your shift to let you know about any problems that then need to be tackled during the day.

These audits will be compiled by the night manager who oversees the entire hotel during the evening, and it will often be the case that you will have to establish a meeting with them as one shift ends and another begins in order to discuss the previous evening.

However, due to the fact that this is not always possible, it does mean that the paperwork takes on special significance and that is why this has to be one of the first things that you check out each day.


We have mentioned invoices, because it is always important that the general manager is aware of what is coming in and going out of their hotel on a daily basis. You must check that paperwork related to the purchasing of supplies, outside contractors, or bills connected to the running of the hotel are not only being handled correctly, but also completed with the relevant details.

Invoices are dealing with money, so it is extremely important for you to make sure that everything is done correctly or you will be costing extra money when that should be avoided at all costs.

At the beginning of the day, or even at the end of the day if you want to collect them then, it is important that you check with the relevant heads of the department in order to collate their invoices to then run over them to see that the relevant rules are being applied.

Departmental Paperwork

Each department will have its own paperwork to deal with individual aspects that allow them to run successfully. For example, the bar will have paperwork related to the staff that were working there, invoices, damages, and any other issues and the same goes for the restaurant as well.

The departmental paperwork should be the responsibility of the head of that department, but you are still required to oversee everything in your role as the general manager, so understanding their paperwork is also part of your job.

This is why there is no other option but to discuss it with the relevant staff member and then spend time checking the paperwork for your own good and making sure that everything is running like clockwork.

Staff Paperwork

When it comes to staff paperwork, we are actually referring to things such as staff rosters, staff contracts, their salaries being paid on time, who is off ill and who is replacing them, and even paperwork related to the termination of employment for whatever reason and even their initial hiring.

In large hotels, this will mainly be the domain of the human resources department, but that still does not absolve you of the responsibility of knowing what is going on. However, if you are working in a hotel that does not have such a department, then the responsibility is going to be in your hands, so understanding what is required is absolutely essential.

This may not be a section of paperwork that you will have to deal with on a constant basis, but at least being aware of who is working and any departments that are understaffed will allow you to manage more effectively and help the hotel in general to run more smoothly as a result.

Paperwork from Head Office

Paperwork has to also be sent to head office, as they must also be aware of what is going on at any given time. Even if you are not the one that sends it to the relevant department, you are still the one that is responsible for it.

However, there is also paperwork that will come the other way and, once again, you need to work through it, see what the message is, and then deal with it accordingly.

For example, paperwork may arrive related to the marketing or the budget for certain departments and it is up to you to understand what it means and how to then implement the actions.

Outside Contractors

We have decided to include outside contractors in their own segment as this is going to be a very distinct type of paperwork especially if you are working in a larger hotel. This is going to be something that you will work closely with the facilities manager with, so some could argue that it would be their own departmental paperwork, but there are a number of reasons as to why it has been included on its own.

First, it will often deal with quotes and they have to be dealt with and given the go ahead by you for work to begin. Next, you can check that the relevant contractors have the correct insurance in place to protect the hotel from any unfortunate incidents. Finally, it allows you to check the quote itself since you hardly want any work to proceed without being aware of what is happening, do you?

Legal Paperwork

The final category that we are going to include covers the term, 'legal paperwork' and that is connected to issues such as insurance, meeting health and safety legislation, staff training, environmental health, and building regulations.

All of this paperwork must be checked out because of the potential issues that may arise if it is not completed in the correct manner. The only possible problem with this type of paperwork is the need for you to seek further advice to make sure that everything is correct, but that is something that you should already understand and have the relevant contacts in place. However, under no circumstances should this paperwork ever be ignored, as the result of doing so can be catastrophic for the hotel in general and may even be illegal in a number of ways.

These are some very general terms that have been used, but the main idea has been to present you with a list of the areas where paperwork is going to play a role. Within these different categories there will be various individual piece of paper that all mean something in the entire context of the hotel and it is up to you work out how you are going to work through it all.

Prioritize the Paperwork

Understand the importance of different types of paperwork in order to then create a system whereby those items that are inherently linked to the day to day running of the hotel are dealt with first with the order of importance then decreasing as you go.

This is not to say that the things that are left until later on should be forgotten about, but it is a case of determining some kind of priority to help you get through the more vital parts as quickly as possible.

Consult department heads

Next, you should rely on your departmental heads to help you with the paperwork, as they should all be able to check that the reports and information that comes from their own department is in order and up to the hotel's standards. This is where your confidence in their abilities really does apply because if you do not believe in their ability to do their job correctly, then all that is going to happen is you will be forced into checking every single thing and there is just not enough hours in the day to do that.

It is important that you sit down with the relevant department heads and talk through what you expect from them when it comes to paperwork. Have it set in place that it must be completed by them and sent to you by a certain time as that allows you to have some sense of structure to your day and there is no need for you to be worried as to when you will be required to complete the paperwork.

In all honesty, to make life easier for you when it comes to trying to create your very own system, we recommend considering the following:

  • Place the emphasis on the department heads to do their bit in helping you with the paperwork situation.
  • Set aside certain times of the day when you will deal with the majority of paperwork that appears on your desk.
  • Do not allow yourself to become stressed out by it.
  • Identify the paperwork that is the most pressing in order to deal with it first and then work backwards from that point.

This is something that will certainly become easier the more that you do it, but during your actual training you should have already been exposed to dealing with paperwork albeit on a smaller scale. However, this will act as good training for the future and it is training that you need to put to good use when you move further up the career ladder within the hotel industry.

The Importance of Checking Everything

To put it bluntly, you cannot just assume that things are all correct as that will not always be the case and it can ultimately spell disaster for the hotel and could always potentially cost the hotel money.
Even though so much is now digital, it still requires a human being to be involved in it and that can always mean that mistakes are being made.

Unfortunately, mistakes can be costly in this environment, although that depends on the paperwork that is involved, so just making a basic assumption that the world is fine is really not an option.

The Key to Avoiding Stress

Having to deal with paperwork means handling the stress that comes with it.

There is no doubt that most people will feel their blood pressure rise at the mere thought of it, but that does not have to be the case.

Instead, it is all down to your ability to manage your time as best as you possibly can as this has been shown to have a positive impact on your ability to not only get things done on time, but it does also lower your stress levels as well. Being disorganized results in absolute chaos and that is something that must be avoided at all times. Setting aside certain times in the day to deal with different types of paperwork will avoid those crushing feelings and at the same time it will also mean that you can be the best hotel manager possible, by being out there and seen by guests and staff alike.
Never under any circumstances should you allow paperwork to build up as it is all too easy for it to get on top of you.

We showed you the list of the most common types of paperwork that you will need to focus on at the start of this module, so you can see the potential mountain that awaits you if you do not tackle it on a regular basis.

The key to being a good manager in general is to be organized, so if you struggle with that, then you are going to struggle when it comes to dealing with the paperwork. This is something that does take time to perfect, but with your own personal experience that has been built up throughout your career it should be possible for you to create your own system that works perfectly well for you and makes it as stress free as possible.


Christos Pashiardis – Managing Partner Consultant
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