Luxury hotel staff earn record bonuses as Thai tourism market rebounds
A hotel in Phuket has broken the record by handing staffers the highest amount earned in service charge as Thailand’s tourism industry bounces back after the pandemic slowdown.
According to Hotel Service Charge Update, JW Marriott Phuket broke the record in December 2023-January 2024 by giving every member of staff a bonus of 95,733.22 baht in service charge. It broke its own record of 79,980 baht handed out a year earlier.
Coming in second was Anantara Layan Phuket with 71,715 baht, followed by Four Seasons Koh Samui (Surat Thani) with 69,787 baht, Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle (Chiang Rai) at 65,931 baht, and Amanpuri (Phuket) at 63,973 baht, which also paid a 1.5-month bonus.
The report added that seven other hotels in Phuket handed out more than 40,000 baht to staffers for service charge during the December-January period, with many adding an on-top bonus.
William Heinecke, chairman of Minor International Pcl, which operates JW Marriott Phuket, said that he believes some 35 million foreigners will arrive in Thailand this year. This number is still less than 39 million arrivals in 2019 before Covid-19 hit the region.
“The tourism industry is bouncing back thanks to the influx of Chinese tourists, who topped the foreign arrivals chart this month,” he said. “Although we may not see as many tourists as before the pandemic, travellers are now spending about 20% more compared to 2019.”
He said the trend of increased spending has prompted Minor Group to shift its focus from promoting mass tourism to quality tourism. By offering more premium services and better quality rooms, the group is targeting a more upscale group of foreigners visiting Thailand.
According to the Thai Hotels Association’s recent survey on hotel operator confidence, up to 20% of four to five-star hotels in Thailand are now earning the same or more than they did in 2019.
The survey also found that hotels in the South of Thailand adjusted their daily room rates upwards compared to before the pandemic.
The association believes more luxury hotels will achieve their pre-pandemic earnings after the first quarter of 2024, while hotels with three stars or less may see their earnings restored to pre-Covid levels as late as after 2025, as hotels in this group cannot push their prices too high.