April 2007

Tipping Etiquette 101

Author: Craig Hysell

Much of the travel and tourism industry in the United States involves employees who base some or most of their salary on the tips they receive from satisfied guests and customers. Of course, not everyone expects a tip or, more importantly, deserves a tip, so it’s nice to know some guidelines on the matter.

Following are a few simple procedures that can lessen your slights against mankind while greatly improving the level of service you receive. Like anything in life, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way.

Wait-staff at restaurants usually receive a gratuity between 15 and 20 percent of the check for services rendered. Remember, if the food came out undercooked or if you have had to wait two hours to be seated, it is not the server’s fault. If you are paying for a larger party of people, make sure the gratuity has not already been added to your bill before tipping.

Ten to 15 percent gratuity at a bar or club is normal. Never wave or whistle for a bartender’s attention in a crowded bar unless you’d like to be ignored for the better part of your visit. Put money in your hand, know what you’d like to order, wait patiently and tip well. Your service is guaranteed to improve throughout your evening.

Tip your cab driver. The average cost of a first time DUI offense ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, and that’s if you don’t hurt anyone or yourself. A 10 to 15 percent tip for keeping you out of jail or the grave is appropriate.

Keep ones or fives (or groups of ones or fives if you’re a high roller) in an easy-to-access pocket for bellhops and valets—digging around in your wallet is awkward and time consuming. Generally, a dollar per bag for bellhops is considered acceptable, and the maid service always appreciates a little extra as well.

Tip up front if you are going to be in contact with the same person for an extended period of your travel. You might know, or even say, you will tip at the end of your visit, but actions always speak louder than words. Those who tip up front always garner more attentive service, because attendants have already received the cash.

Know the tipping policies. Many countries outside the U.S. do not require tipping. Some hotels in the United States include tipping in the fee for the stay. When in doubt, ask.

In the United States, custom dictates that one can rarely offend another by giving a little bit more. It is almost always appreciated. From bus driver to pizza delivery guy, adventure tour guide to bathroom attendant, a couple of dollars can go a long way toward making your travel significantly more enjoyable and rewarding.

Tipping is never mandatory, politeness, patience and kindness are always appreciated and realizing that when you believe you are the most important person in the room you are probably the only one with that opinion is priceless.

The simple fact is, very few people mind working a little bit harder when they are getting paid a little bit extra.

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