Meetings & Conventions: Who's Who at the Hotel - May
Who's Who at the Hotel
...and why do you tip them,
BY SARA J.F. BRALEYW
hen it's time to get down to negotiations, do
you talk to the director of sales or the sales manager? And, who's
your go-to person when there's a glitch during a dinner event?
While a one-job-fits-all hotel employee might be ideal as far as a
planner is concerned, the reality is you may give direct orders to
20 or more people during an event. To help minimize the confusion,
has compiled a list of who's who - and who gets
what when you're doling out gratuities.
The following job descriptions were adapted from the American
Hotel & Motel Association; tipping advice was gleaned from
Meeting Professionals International's "The All-Purpose Tipping
Guide" ($5 for members and $7 for non-members; 972-702-3000) and
the book Professional Meeting Management, published by the
Professional Convention Management Association ($49.95 for members,
$54.95 non-members; 205-823-7262), as well as advice from seasoned
planners. (For additional advice, see "Questions Everyone Asks
About Tipping" on page 87.)
The general manager (GM) oversees everything
that happens at the hotel, keeping a watchful eye on all
departments. Planners rarely deal directly with the GM, unless the
hotel is small she is doubling as the director of sales. The GM
receives no tip.
The director of sales (DOS) monitors all
bookings at the hotel. This is your contact if you're having
trouble with the sales manager booking your event. When it comes to
the nitty gritty of negotiating rates and booking guest and meeting
rooms, the sales manager handles everything. Neither gets a tip,
but some planners give the sales manager a small
gift, such as candy or a plant.
The director of convention services is the head
of the convention services department, a position most often found
at larger hotels. Planners generally will not deal with the
director unless their meeting is of particular importance to the
property. Suggested tip: $75-$200, only if you have worked directly
with him. The convention services manager (CSM) is
your main hotel contact once the negotiations are concluded. She
helps arrange the details of each event, from coffee breaks to
general sessions. The CSM also can put you in contact with others
in the hotel who will play a role in servicing your meeting.
Suggested tip: $35-$100. Helping out the CSM is the
convention services coordinator. He may be your
main contact if your meeting is relatively small or uncomplicated.
Suggested tip: $20-$50.
All catering and food operations at the hotel, including the
restaurants, fall under the food and beverage
director's responsibilities, but meeting planners
generally do not work directly with him. The catering
director is your contact for discussing menu options and
pricing. Suggested tip: $100.
On the day of your meal functions, the banquet
manager organizes the room setup and oversees the wait
staff. Suggested tip: $30. The banquet captain, on
the other hand, works with the planner during the meal function
itself, taking care of any troubles that might arise and overseeing
the event as it happens. Suggested tip: $35-$50.
When your group hits the lobby, the front desk
manager oversees the reservations clerks. No tip.
Taking care of luggage and rooms are the bell
staff and the housekeeping staff. When
the group is full of seasoned travelers, planners often leave the
tipping of these staff members to the attendees. To avoid
double-tipping, planners who arrange to tip the housekeepers and
bellmen can put a card in the guest rooms or registration packets
to inform attendees that there is no need to tip. Suggested tips:
housekeeping, $1-$2 per attendee; bell staff, $2-$4 per attendee;
head of house staff or executive
housekeeper, $35. Some planners also tip the bell
The concierge is on hand to perform a laundry
list of guest services, from recommending off-property restaurants
and making dinner reservations to rearranging travel plans, booking
rental cars and giving directions. While guests might tip the
concierge for individual service, planners generally don't, unless
he performs particular duties for the group as a whole, such as
arranging a visit to a local attraction. In such cases, tip
$20-$75, or give a gift in that price range.
The engineering department, overseen by the engineering
supervisor, takes care of the heating/cooling and lighting
of meeting rooms. Most planners do not tip the engineering
Many hotels have their own audiovisual departments to do
everything from plugging in microphones to running general
sessions. The audiovisual technician makes sure
all the technology is compatible and in working order, and (you
hope) ensures a trouble-free session. Suggested tip: $20-$150,
depending on the complexity of tasks.
If you're bringing in expensive equipment or hosting
high-profile executives or celebrities, meet with the
security director to arrange extra protection. No
When fun is on the agenda, you'll spend time planning with the
spa director, golf pro,
director of golf or other recreation director.
Together, you'll arrange tournaments, lessons and free time to fit
seamlessly with the other goals of the meeting. Suggested tip:
You will probably need to send boxes of meeting materials to the
hotel, which will bring you in contact with the package
room personnel. Suggested tip: supervisors, $25; other
staff, $15 each.
It's always wise to get in good with the accounts
receivable supervisor who handles your bill. For this
unenviable service, no tip.QUESTIONS EVERYONE
ASKS ABOUT TIPPING
Tipping is one of those
touchy areas that raises a lot of questions - not all of which have
clear-cut answers. A few examples:
Which comes first, the meeting or the tip? Some planners
believe doling out tips before the event motivates the staff to
provide better service. Others feel it encourages mediocre service
because, heck, they've already got the dough. Personal preference
is the rule, but most planners wait until after the
event.How do I budget for gratuities? Choose one of these
formulas: 1 percent of the total meeting budget, 50 cents to $1 per
attendee or $1 per sleeping room.Who hands out the tip? You can do it personally, or
simply add tips to the master account. Or, give the gratuities to
one staff member (perhaps the CSM) to dole out. If you need proof
of the distribution for accounting purposes, print a list of people
receiving tips and have them sign it when they get the
envelope.Does the tip have to be cash? Certainly not. Give
doughnuts or candy to switchboard operators and front desk clerks.
In other cases, the least expensive gift of all may be the most
valuable: letters of commendation (give one to the staff member and
a copy to her supervisor).
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