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4 Reasons to Stop Using Excel Spreadsheets

By Alex Gaggioli, October 26, 2015

Introduction

If you manage your hotel, hostel, or B&B with an Excel spreadsheet, you could be setting yourself up for catastrophe. There is no doubt that Excel is a powerful and useful program used by almost every business in the world. But, according to Forbes and PricewaterhouseCoopers, almost all spreadsheets contain errors. Every industry has lost productivity and revenue using Excel spreadsheets, and hospitality is no exception.

Here are some of the major things to look out for when using Excel.

Wasted Time

Time is a hoteliers most valuable asset, channel managers help decrease the amount of time spent on administrative work

It’s hard to calculate exactly how much time hoteliers waste using a manual process like Excel to manage their property. But, we know it’s significant. It’s true Excel has many great functions, but they are prone to error. One “bad cell” can ruin an entire spreadsheet.

When using an Excel sheet to manage expenses, reservations, schedules, etc., it’s likely that multiple people use the same document. When more than one person uses the same document, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Scenario 1: Your front desk employees use spreadsheets to manage reservations and confirmation emails. During the morning shift, employee #1 sends several confirmation emails but forgets to mark them. Later, employee #2 comes in and thinks the emails have not been sent and redoes the work creating confusion and wasting time.

Scenario 2: Your reservations are updated in Excel multiple times a day, all while bookings and cancellations happen on an on-going basis via OTAs. In between Excel updates, guests can cancel and book, making your spreadsheets almost always out of date.

Scenario 3: An employee accidently saves a copy of the spreadsheet. You or another employee open the old spreadsheet and the latest information is not available and you’re operating an entire shift incorrectly.

Excel leaves a lot of room for error. With an automated system, you avoid double work and avoid confusion.

Prone to Serious Error

Did you know that 90% of spreadsheets contain an error and that almost 100% of spreadsheets with more than 200 rows contain an error? PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a study showing how inaccurate Excel spreadsheets are. And there’s proof. Major US businesses found serious errors in their spreadsheets and suffered.

  • Kodak’s spreadsheet error caused a restated income down by $11 million
  • Fannie May had an error that overstated their gains by $1.3 billion
  • Fidelity had a $2.6 billion dividend calculation resulting in a $4.32 per share distribution as a mistake because of minus sign in a cell. In reality, there was a $1.3 billion loss and dividend.

It is true that these are the most extreme examples of Excel spreadsheet error. But, if billion dollar companies with hundreds of accountants can suffer from Excel errors, you can too.

Excel errors cause both monetary and reservation problems.

Miscommunication

As mentioned above, when multiple people use the same spreadsheet, errors are inevitable. Proper training is essential for any system. But, the difference between Excel sheets and other software is that you can easily manipulate Excel sheets.  Excel sheets work when categories, tags and other identifiers are properly used. But, your employees may interpret tags and categories differently.

There are few safety features in Excel that stop users from changing functions and labels. It is easy to not save changes and to save duplicate files. You put yourself at risk for losing information and time with different spreadsheets.

Lack of Security

Excel lacks security

Most businesses that use spreadsheets don’t protect them with passwords. And spreadsheets do not lock you out after a certain period of time. Your personal and business information are easily accessible if someone accesses your computer. There are few, if any, security features on spreadsheets.

Cloud-based PMS systems are password protected and sensitive information is encrypted.

Excel spreadsheets are easily shared and not secure. The ability for an employee or hacker to duplicate the information is shockingly easy. All it takes is for someone to ‘save as’ and all your information can be shared.

The Solution

While Excel spreadsheets are great for many tasks, they should not be used to manage your property. The risks associated with spreadsheets can and will result in costly mistakes. A cloud-based system will reduce both employee and guest confusion. Security measures and encryption keep cloud-based systems safe while automating many processes. It is easier to train your employees to use software than maintaining fragile spreadsheets.

Upgrade your business with a property management system. Whether you use ours, called myfrontdesk, or another, you will save time and money compared to managing your property using a spreadsheet.

 

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