Strategic management reports in a travel agency

by François Lacoste-CPA auditeur,CA, February 07 2019
Strategic management reports in a travel agency

Every accounting software tailored to the travel industry is expected to provide numerous management reports that enable managers and other decision-makers to make sound decisions. These reports can inform you about the profitability of your business, possible cash flow problems, billing errors and incorrectly recorded transactions. But to do this, it is necessary to clearly identify which report to use to obtain the required information and what to analyze in the different reports.

The Report section in the TravelWorks software gives you tons of information for your decision making. Below is a brief overview of the relevant reports to consult. The frequency of the analysis of these reports can be done weekly, monthly or annually, depending on the types of reports.


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Here is a list of the main management reports to analyze with the reasons why it is important to do so.

Accounting operations.

Account analysis: It is useful to proceed with your account analysis on a monthly basis, usually when the period of the month is closed, in order to detect possible wrong expense assignments in the ledgers. The analysis also allows you to see data entries that might be unusual.

The balance of verification: as its name suggests, it allows to check balances at the end of a month. It will be used to identify unusual balances. It also ensures that the general ledger including accounts receivable, travel suppliers, administrative suppliers, accounted but unpaid taxes match with their respective lists which we will further describe below.

Bank reconciliations: bank reconciliation must be done quickly at the end of each month. It can even be done daily or weekly. It can detect unusual transactions in the bank account or detect errors at the bank (missing deposits, cleared check to a higher amount, customers’ bad checks etc.)

Financial Statements: this contains the balance sheet and the income statement. These statements are the same numbers found in the trial balance but presented in two reports.The income statement will allow you to consult the information related to the profitability of your business as well as a precise overview of your expenses. The balance sheet allows to analyze the financial situation of the company. Is there any problem of liquidity? Is the working capital sufficient to your travel agency permit renewal?

Trust: This report must be considered in conjunction with the bank reconciliation of the trust account. Both reports must be generated on the same date. The amount on the closing balance of the bank reconciliation must be greater than the total of the trust report. Particular attention should be paid to departure dates in this report. If the departure date is before the report date, there should not be any amount in the Trust report because travel services must generally be paid before the client leaves. If not, it is then necessary to investigate in order to identify the issue in the file.

List of receivables: by generating this list with ''Deferred dates included'', the latter provides you with the balances for customers whose departures have taken place or are to come. In some cases, this list can be several pages long. The total of this list must correspond to the amount of the 15210 ledger at the trial balance. However, when you uncheck ''Deferred dates included'', the list should be rather short because it will show you the sales for customers whose departure has already occurred. Positive balances must be investigated. Must an invoice be canceled? Has the supplier's credit card payment been omitted in this file? etc. Negative balances may indicate gift certificates received or refunds to be issued.

Accounts Receivable
The Accounts Receivable section allows you to view the profitability of your business.

Comparative analysis: This report allows you to compare sales by dates. You can make quick comparisons between agents' sales the previous year with the current year, by supplier, by product, and so on. You will be able to obtain answers to your questions concerning the decrease or the increase of your sales on specific segments.

Sales analysis: this analysis can be done daily or weekly to detect errors in billing. By requesting this travel agent analysis in details, you can quickly validate commission rates and detect potential travel agents’ errors.

Payable accounts

Commissions to pay to agents: This report allows you to quickly track the commissions you can pay to your travel agents. It is recommended to generate this report by date of departure and not to check the boxes "Outstanding customer receivable" or '' Outstanding vendor receivable''. This way, you make sure that you do not pay commissions that you would not have received from your travel suppliers. It is vital to properly manage cash flow! However, I recommend that you compare that same report with and without the two options mentioned above checked. By comparing the files displayed on one report but not on the second one, you can potentially make sure whether it makes sense or not that some files are not displayed in that first report.

Administrative Accounts Payable: The total of this list must equal the amount found in the trial balance in the 20210 ledger (at comparable dates). If the two amounts are different, you must investigate to understand the difference. The list will also allow you to make sure you have paid your suppliers on time and remind you to enter your checks in the system if you issued them manually.

Travel supplier Accounts Payable: just like the list of accounts receivable, this report can be generated with ''Deferred dates included'' or not. If you do not select the ‘’deferred dates included’’ option, the list will usually present amounts in negative as it shows the amounts to be received from travel suppliers. For recent departures, it may also be normal to see negative balances. But for departures that are older, if you notice negative amounts, you must investigate as soon as posssible why the travel supplier has not paid the commission yet. It could also be an error when you generated the invoice. If you notice amounts in positive, you must also investigate further because you probably paid the provider before departure and therefore, the amount should no longer appear in this list. The total of the list of travel suppliers generated with ''Deferred dates included'' must balance with the 25110 ledger in the balance of verification.

Billing

File History: Some agents can be reluctant to use this report as they could find it difficult to understand. Even if there are multiple transactions in a file history, it makes it easy to understand what has ‘’happened’’ in a file. What was billed to the customer? What is the supplier cost? What is the GST / QST amount on the commission? How and when did the customer pay? How and when was the supplier paid? How much profit do we generate with this file? What is the commission amount paid to the agent? Was that travel refunded by the travel supplier? By getting into the habit of looking at the file history, and this, right after the billing, it enables to validate that the accounting data is accurate for that file. Billing is the starting point of 95% of the accounting in the TravelWorks software. It is therefore important to take the time to properly train your staff on how to read a file history.

List of final payments: This is an important list to be produced weekly to help your agents to follow up on their files. It ensures that customers will pay their balances on time. If necessary, it also enables to cancel a file in order to minimize the loss with a client who would have changed his mind or in case an extraordinary situation would have occurred after he booked. A good practice is to generate that list on Monday morning for final payments due until the following Monday.


As a conclusion, timely review of relevant management reports will help you make wise decisions concerning the future of your business! You will always know in real time your level of profitability as well as your financial situation. 

These reports will also help you ensure that your accounting is free of significant errors to make the right decisions in terms of future investments.

We hope this will help you build sound and efficient management and we wish you a lot of prosperity in the business development of your travel agency!

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