To Charge Or Not To Charge

Recently, there has been considerable discussion both on-line and in print about mandatory service charges. The most recent and highest profile writing took place in yesterday’s USA Today. Read the full story.


I was interviewed for that article and weighed-in with the following thoughts:


I believe all of this comes down to (or certainly should be) about the guest. If the hotel/restaurant is providing a superior experience and adopting a gratuity/service charge policy in order to make it more convenient for the guest, it’s a good thing. In the end, your customer will let you know if they “feel” good about it, or not. The important thing is to listen and show them that you care.


I think most of the “negativity” and public commentary is based on a combination of three factors: 1. we don’t like change, and; 2. we don’t provide a consistently superior experience; and, 3. most of the places implementing such fees aren’t clearly stating “why” they do it, and/or “what” happens with the money. As a result, there’s a perception that these fees are for the convenience of the business and not about them. I think we can all agree that we have become generally guarded and skeptical of business practices, especially when it comes to pricing and surcharges.


As hoteliers, anytime we make a guest policy change, we run the risk of not pleasing someone. Hopefully, there’s minimal fall-out if we’ve done our homework and made decisions based first on our customers. When there is a problem (as is evidenced by the increasing discussion about the subject issue), the key is to respond well to those individuals and adapt (change) when enough of our patrons tell us to do so. Those that don’t…well, we know who they were looking out for in the first place.


What do you think?

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