A service charge does not always go to staff who provide service. Asking for the breakdown of service charge disbursements will help you decide which additional gratuities to put into your meeting budget. And yes, you should budget for them, even though it’s difficult to estimate what you will actually offer for superior service.
Cathy Clifton’s guide can be used for estimating tips: (the entire article can be found here:
Set-up crew: $5-$7 per person, per day worked, from set-up day to departure
Banquet servers: $5-$7 per function worked -- breakfast, lunch and breaks, each day; $10-$15 per person for elaborate dinner functions
Bartender(s): $30-$50 per event for bartenders (if no tip jar was used)
Banquet captain: $10–$20 per meal function
Banquet chefs: $50-$100 per event (only if there were carving stations); same tip for the head chef for the entire meeting if he/she was helpful
A/V manager: $75 per meeting (only if you used their equipment, and he/she provided on-site assistance)
Conference service manager: $100-$500 per entire meeting. Often this person is your main contact on-site and should get the largest tip. If not, give the best tip to the person who was most helpful
Reservations manager: $50-$100 per entire meeting, based on overall involvement in the reservation process (if you have a lot of housing fires to put out the reservations manager can be key)
Other managers (security, housekeeping, bell desk): $40-$60 depending on their involvement with your event and the duration of the meeting
Miscellaneous tips: $2-$3 per staffer, per shipped box delivered; tip a staffer $20-$30
for hauling in any boxes from your car.
Tips for maid and bell service typically are included in the hotel contract.