Business Resources

Calculating & Controlling Your Hotel Operating Costs


Welcome to our guide to managing hotel operating costs. With so many operational costs to juggle, staying profitable requires a detailed plan.

So, should you just worry about “heads in beds” to keep revenue flowing? Not exactly. The hotel operating expenses breakdown below reveals that there’s more to operations management than this simple principle.

If you’re hoping to better manage your hotel operating budget, the five-star guide below is just what you need. In it, you’ll find a helpful hotel operating expense ratio, actionable strategies for lowering operating costs and more.

What’s Included in Hotel Operating Cost?

Welcome to the hotel operating expenses breakdown. We hope you have a pleasant stay in this informative section. If you want to better manage your hotel operating expenses, you’ll need to understand your current costs.

Hotel operating costs can be broken down into two main categories: fixed and variable.

Fixed Costs

First up are fixed costs. Whether the hotel is at high or low occupancy, these costs remain in place. Because the hospitality industry is service-focused, employee wages often make up a large chunk of fixed costs.

From the concierge to cooks to the housekeeping, there are many staff members on the payroll at all times. This is why labor costs are typically the largest part of average hotel operating expenses.

Other costs that fall into the fixed costs category include:

  • Rent costs and property taxes
  • Human resources cost
  • Employee healthcare premium costs
  • Contracted services costs (example: security services)
  • Internet, phone and television costs
  • Hotel management software costs

To be clear, the term fixed costs refer to costs that are not directly influenced by occupancy. Fixed costs can (and do) shift over time, but they are generally steady and predictable, making them easier to manage than variable costs.

Variable Costs

Now onto variable costs. These costs fluctuate depending on how many guests are staying in the hotel. The higher the occupancy rate, the higher the variable costs and vice versa.

Variable costs include:

  • Food and beverage costs
  • Utilities (water, electricity, etc.)
  • Housekeeping supplies costs
  • Marketing costs
  • Third-party travel site commission costs
  • Decor and floral arrangement costs
  • Linen and laundry operations costs
  • Hourly wages cost

While variable expenses can be harder to predict, utilizing a tracking system will help provide insights into this area. Examine data from your property management system (PMS) to see where inefficiencies lie in terms of operating costs.

For example, if busy seasons are leading to major energy costs, consider implementing smart thermostats, motion-sensor lighting and campaigns to encourage the reuse of towels. We’ll cover more strategies to save later on. For now, let’s turn our attention to calculating costs.

Calculating and Managing Hotel Operating Costs

You no doubt have a lengthy list of items that make up your hotel’s operating costs. Once you’ve added these up, it’s time to get some valuable information. Your hotel’s profit and loss statement will be an invaluable tool in this process.

Utilizing Profit & Loss Statement

Your profit and loss statement allows you to view revenue and expenses line by line. In it is the hotel operating expenses breakdown and much more. Because the statement breaks down costs and revenues by department, you’ll be able to have a detailed view of what’s affecting your bottom line.

Simply put, the profit and loss statement showcases total revenues minus total expenses in each department, leaving you with the total profit. Keeping a detailed profit and loss sheet allows you to pinpoint exactly where improvements can be made.

Hotel Profit + Loss Statement Chart.

Calculating Costs Per Room

Knowing the cost of filling a room is foundational in managing hotel operating expenses. The handy Cost Per Occupied Room (COPR) formula is one way to uncover this number. Understanding COPR lets you determine whether the operating costs per room are appropriate or straining your hotel operating budget.

To calculate cost per occupied room:

COPR = Total Rooms Department Costs

Total Rooms Sold

The COPR takes both fixed and variable costs into account and reveals the profitability of each room.

Text: COPR = Total Rooms Department Costs over Total Rooms Sold.


Calculating Costs Using RevPar

While knowing the cost per room is essential, it is only one piece of the puzzle. For a look at overall hotel performance, calculating RevPar is useful. Short for revenue per available room, RevPar evaluates a hotel’s ability to fill rooms. RevPar provides more information than occupancy rates alone and can help you make important decisions in regards to pricing.

It starts with the average daily room rate (ADR).

To find ADR:

ADR = Room Revenue

Rooms Sold

Once you have this number, you’ll need to calculate the occupancy rate.

ADR=Room Revenue over Rooms Sold

OR = Total Rooms Filled

Total Rooms Available

The product of these two values gives you the final RevPar.

OR=Total Rooms Filled over Total Rooms Available.

RevPar = Average Daily Room Rate x Occupancy Rate

A high ADR doesn’t mean much if the rooms are largely empty. On the other hand, a high occupancy rate with a low ADR signifies a lack of full profit potential. RevPar takes into account both elements to give an accurate picture of the hotel’s performance. It can also provide insights into whether pricing per room should be adjusted, which can offset operational costs.


REVPAR = Average Daily Room Rate X Occupancy Rate.

How to Lower Your Hotel Operating Cost

From floral arrangements in the hallway to perfectly folded linens in the rooms, details matter. When it comes to managing costs, minor adjustments can compile to make a big impact for your profits. So, to lower your operating costs, consider making the changes below.

Rethink Labor Spending

One key challenge is balancing the amount of staff you bring on board with the high and low seasons hotels naturally experience. Having too many employees on the payroll will drain your operating budget. Too few and your guests may feel neglected. In light of this, it’s no wonder that labor often consumes the lion’s share of a hotel operating budget.

The solution? Utilize an on-demand hiring platform like Qwick. Qwick allows you to post open shifts on an easy-to-use platform where hospitality industry Professionals can see and accept open jobs. You receive high-quality work from a trained professional and avoid the costs that a full-time hire requires. From line cooks to bartenders to banquet servers and more, Qwick can connect you with independent contractors when you need them.

When you work with Qwick, you are taking on 1099 contractors rather than employees that require a W2. This means you are not required to pay payroll taxes or benefits. So, if labor costs are negatively impacting your hotel operating expense ratio, consider cutting back on staff and supplementing with skilled service Professionals when high-demand times arrive.

Bring Down the Energy Bill

High electricity costs are another major contributor to soaring operating expenses. According to research from EnergyStar, the average hotel spends $2,196 per room on energy. The good news is that there are cost-effective changes hotels can make to address this issue.

For starters, make sure that you have data on energy use in your hotel. Keeping track of average energy usage, peak times, patterns that lead to high energy bills and more is essential in forming a comprehensive solution.

Implementing new technologies designed to be more energy efficient is the next step. LED light bulbs not only use less than a quarter of the energy that traditional bulbs use, but they also last longer. This means hotel managers will experience a dip in the energy bill and maintenance costs as bulbs need to be replaced less frequently. Installing timers on bathroom lamps and occupancy sensors in rooms are two more strategies that compound to lower costs.

Make the Menu Work for You

From room service to the in-house restaurant and more, providing guests with high-quality meals elevates their experience. But food and beverage costs can quickly add up. To keep them under control, reevaluate the banquet and restaurant menus to see where changes can be made.

For instance, create meal options on both menus that require the same ingredients to be prepared. This crossover allows you to buy ingredients in bulk and reduce waste as ingredients that don’t get used for banquet meals can be repurposed for restaurant meals (and vice versa). Cutting down the menu size based on item popularity is also a smart step.

Another way to reduce waste is to carefully track what amount of food is used and thrown away on a regular basis. Adding information on reducing waste to your restaurant employee training manual is also a wise idea. With accurate information about how much food is needed, cooks can create the right amount and avoid tossing out perfectly good ingredients. Did someone order an improved food and beverage process? Coming right up!

Negotiate with Suppliers

When profits are low, getting creative about saving costs is key in staying afloat. Take some time to evaluate the current contracts your hotel has with suppliers and service providers. Are there certain services that you can cut back on at this time? Or are there companies willing to negotiate a better price for you during this low profitability period?

If you’ve developed relationships with these providers over the years, consider reaching out and proposing an agreement update that saves you money but also poses a benefit for the other party. Offering the company an advertising slot at the next conference your hotel hosts or agreeing to refer others in the industry to their services are just two examples of benefits you can propose to the organization. Think creatively about what you can provide to them in exchange for a reduced service rate.

If negotiations lead nowhere, consider other suppliers in the area. You may be able to find more competitive rates elsewhere that will help you lower operating costs.

Bring Down Your Restaurant Labor Expenses with Qwick

Operating costs are something that every hotel manager needs to keep a careful eye on. Knowing what’s contributing to your expenses is the first step. But working to manage costs and increase operational efficiency is just as important. Qwick connects you with skilled hospitality freelancers, so you can staff your business without incurring the extra costs that hiring a full-time employee entails.

Create an account with Qwick today to experience a better way of staffing.

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