The inner workings of Pubs in Thailand
I wanted to write a post about how pubs work in Thailand because often Farang and even Thai people for that matter get frustrated when they are at a pub and seem to be getting bad service. More often than not it's not the pubs service that is bad it's more likely a combination of an individual and yourself that contribute to bad service. Yes getting bad service at a pub in Thailand can be your fault and I'll explain how in this article.
In order to know how a pub works you'll need to know the different names and acronyms so you can understand the role of each person who works in a pub. So I've labelled them below including the Thai name so you'll know what each person
PR Girls พีอาร์
Every pub I've ever seen in Thailand has PR Girls. The role of the PR girl is pretty simple, look really hot show a lot of skin and stand in the doorway of the pub to encourage people to go inside makes the place look like there are lots of hot girls inside but in fact could be a total sausage fest. These girls stand next alongside the bouncer who's role is just to check ID's of people who go inside if they in fact have one at all. The PR will escort you to your table and help you find one that you like or get someone to bring out a new table if there isn't one at all. Don't tip the PR girls at all! There is no point, it's her job to find you a table and even if your nice to her she isn't going to do a better job for you anyway. These girls normally start work about 7pm and finish at 1am (or when the club closes which is typically 1am) they get paid good money as it is and their job is easy. In fact many go-go bars hire PR girls to help them get customers inside that's why you always end up saying to yourself "man the chicks outside were hotter"! PR girls usually do the rounds at clubs and trade shows wherever they can get work.
PG Girls พีจี
The PG Girls have a fun job in my mind at least, they are there to encourage you to buy more alcohol. PG girls or my translation "Pretty Girls" are not as good looking at PR girls but still damn fine. You can recognize a PG girl by the uniform she is wearing, typically she will wear a Heineken (green) Singha (Yellow) Red Label (Red) and Ballentine (Blue). Don't bother ordering any food with the PG girl, she'll either forget (typical bimbo) or palm it off to the server. The PG girl will often come along near when your finishing the bottle and ask no scratch that, encourage you to buy more how can you resist with a good looking girl flirting with you right? Once you've ordered she'll quickly move away. Most PG girls make a little less than the PR girls but often they get paid a percentage maybe 10% of the type of drink that is being sold. I've found that Red Label has the best looking PG girls in the business and Singha has the fattest! They do come around occasionally to mix your drinks but even still don't tip these girls they already get a percentage.
The worker bees of the pub industry your server is your friend she/he works in the pub and has a set number of tables. Make sure you remember your server and be nice to them these people start work around 4pm 3 hours before the PR and PG girls come in and often work late until everyone is out of the pub. They also make half as much money yet do 3 times the amount of work. In Chiang Mai a typical server makes around 5000 baht, and no that's not enough even for Thai people to live off. So they must work for tips, tip servers because they do work really hard and get little to show for it. Often misunderstandings can arise in a Pub if you try to order from a server different from the one you had. They always were name tags so if you see another server and want to order don't order from them ask where your server is they will go find them. Countless times i've seen people order from someone who wasn't their server and it never arrives or comes all wrong. Stick with the person assigned to you and you'll have less problems. Understand that they maybe serving several tables at once and be expected to mix drinks for everyone so be sure to not hold it against them. These are the people you want to tip.
Security Guard ยาม
Often people forget about the security guard while PR and PG girls and even servers come and go the security guard usually sticks with his job and he'll always be there. He looks after your bike and/or car and make sure everything is OK in the car park. Don't forget the security guard and make sure you tip him. He will remember you instantly because no one ever tips this guy. I've had the best parking spaces because I tips a guard a year ago and he still remembered me. These guys almost always have a family and children and take this job because it's steady and they can work at night help with the kids during the day.
Job retention is higher in the pub industry than say the fast food industry in Thailand but it's still very low. For this reason there is no reason to try to get to know the servers and PR/PG girls chances are next time you go back they won't be there. This is why tipping isn't really expected because you close your bill at the end of the night and even if you had good service it wouldn't matter you won't see them again probably. But do make sure you tip the server who serves your table. Normally the tips go into a pool of tips which is then shared by everyone. If you think he/she did an exceptional job when you give the tip you want to say "keep the tip for yourself" most pubs have a policy that if the customer gives you a tip and says it's just for you then they get to keep it.
In the west we tip the barmen in the hope that he'll give us more alcohol in our mixed drinks so that we can get drunker faster. In Thailand you don't buy mixed drinks you buy a bottle and get it mixed yourself or have the server/PG do it for you so really all your paying for is the service I like the idea because it's cheaper but then I don't get anything for free so I don't like it either but hey that's just how it works in Thailand and I wouldn't be anywhere else.