Today was a payroll morning. These are arguably my least favorite days of the month, especially now that we have a 10% service charge to distribute. Service charges have been quite a controversial topic this past year. Restaurants that have added them have been both applauded and crucified by the press and in public forums while hospitality services like hotels and cruise lines have very quietly been implementing them all across the country. They range from 10-20% with the norm being 15%. On the cruise ship I think it was $10/day/person that was added to your bill but they were quick to inform you that you could waive the fee if you didn't want to pay it.
We apply our service charge to everything (room revenue ,activities, F&B) except hunting. That gratuity is between the individual hunter and their guide. Our service charge is on the low end at 10%. That is balanced by the fact that it is collected from everyone who stays with us and that about a third of our guests throw a little bit extra into the pot. It's absolutely not necessary to give more, but it is a nice thing for the staff when they do. When we first opened there was no service charge and the number of people who left tips varied widely. Some left tips only for guides, some left tips for everyone, some only left tips for housekeeping and a large number left nothing at all. Now the staff is taken care of no matter who stays with us. Unless it's a comp., but that's a whole other post. The service charge is a very positive thing except on payroll days when the number of pieces of paper I have to sort through makes my head spin.
For the record our entire service charge goes to the staff with the exclusion of management. The guides get a certain amount for activities based on the number of people participating and how long the activities last. Our spa therapists receive their share based on the treatments they perform. Basically any service charge collected for any activity goes to the person(s) who led that particular activity and everyone submits a gratuity slip for each event. The food and beverage staff gets a different set of bonus amounts based on the number of meals they serve and whether they are breakfast, lunch or dinner and they submit tip forms for each meal. The rest is divided among the housekeepers and guest services staff based on the number of hours they work. Our time clock system calculates their hours out to the second decimal point so there's a fair amount of math involved in calculating the individual bonuses. I'm more than happy to do it because our staff really works hard and deserves the extra money. It's just that some mornings I emerge from the office feeling as though I've been through a war. Accounting has always been an unavoidable chore rather than a pleasure.
Surprisingly no one has given us any grief about the service charge. We were a bit concerned when we implemented it, but it has been relatively smooth sailing. People seem to appreciate not having to think about the gratuity process and knowing that it's all included. I think that fact that we only add 10% has something to do with that. I would imagine that the higher the percentage added, the more questions would emerge. I always wonder how other hotels handle their service charges, anyone care to share?