Dan Ellis <firstname.lastname@example.org> 1998jan19
Owing to a series of mishaps, I only just received the final bill from the Mohonk Mountain House for the 1997 WASPAA, which they mailed out just before Thanksgiving (i.e. a month after the workshop). There were a few surprises and issues, which I wanted to comment on in these notes.
The final bill elements were:
|Socials (Sun and Tue eve open bars)||$1785|
|Snacks (Early morning and 11 o'clock coffee)||$1749|
|Wine (with dinner)||$3126|
|Day guests (9+12+9)x$65||$1950|
|Meals not otherwise covered||$310|
|Phone-line charge (hookup & usage)||$86|
Most of these are alright; here are my comments:
Wine cost: The total wine cost ended up at three times the wholesale price once all the markups and taxes had been added; I had only budgeted a factor of 2 (standard 100% markup), so watch out for that! It turns out that Mohonk charge us a base price of 2 x wholesale, but then then add on their 'standard' 15% service charge - figured on the 'normal' wine price, which is 3 x wholesale, so it's actually 22.5% of the wine cost. Seems sneaky to me, but they obviously feel they're giving us a great deal by only charging 2x for the wine. Adding the 7.75% state tax takes the total additions to over 30%.
Day guests: The big shock was $1950 for $65 x 3 days x 10 day guests (participants who were not staying at the hotel). It seems that rather than messing with collecting money from individuals, the hotel just counts people on their way in and bills us later (this was indeed spelled out in their agreement, which I hadn't read...); $65 apparently covers lunch (which they charge at $27.50 if separate) plus use of the hotel grounds (a normal $10 value) and use of the conference room (which works out at $27.50 per person per day too, which seems excessive). (Of course, because this arrangement wasn't widely known, many of the participants for whom I'm now being charged were careful not to partake in the meals at the hotel, but to eat at cheaper places in the town - an awful waste!) They also billed me for a few over-total dinners (at $32.50 or $40 on Sunday), which is plausible, although I have no idea who the diners were - again, we should announce a clear policy (and collect the money). Hong said that someone had suggested that we should include the $65/day in the registration we collect (from everyone), then get the hotel to reduce the per-night charge for people who stay at the hotel by the corresponding amount. This seems like a good idea, since several participants complained that the hotel cost had maxed out their institution's allowances, so it's nice to shift the cost into registration. (We'll have to account for accompanying persons as a special case, though).
Phone charges: The $75 they charged us to connect one of the phones in the conference area to an outside line (so I could use the credit-card machine) seems outrageous. Presumably it took a technician 2 minutes to access the PBX and clear the trunk-blocking on that line. I'm annoyed they didn't at least warn me it was going to cost this when I asked them to connect it. I naturally assumed there would be no charge.