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Do you Like these Hotel Tipping Tips ?

American Hotel and Lodging Association has just published a suggested list of tipping guidelines for hotel staff.  Give it a look (bottom of page).  Are these realistic suggestions?  Do you routinely tip hotel staff?  Curious to know what people think of this.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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I just don't know what to think. Does every question to a front office staff or concierge deserve a tip? How many envelopes do I need to carry for three weeks for housekeeping? If you are fortunate enough to get twice daily service do you tip both times? On my last trip because it was low season, we spoiled ourselves with a very nice hotel.... I admit more times than one desperately  searching my pockets for change or (gulp) even a five Euro note... I understand that hotel staff does not make a lot of money and do try to tip appropriately, but your own expenses can almost get out of control if every question or made bed cost 5 Euro..

Remember these recommendations were in essence from the hotel owners.  They are trying to have the consumer subsidize the poor salaries many of them pay.  


I'm a reasonably generous person, and I realize that most hotel employees are not wealthy, but I don't tip at those levels.  I usually leave a few bucks for the maid if a good job is done, and for an excellent bit of advice or help will as well.  But if I ask the concierge where the nearest bus stop is, that's his job and not worth the five euro note...


Admittedly I work in a profession where I'm well paid and people don't tip me for a brilliant diagnosis.  But I did receive one tip once in my life.  Back in college I was a courtesy clerk (bagboy) at Safeway.  One night Mrs. Bobby Hull (Canadian hockey fans will remember the Golden Jet) came through our line and needed help out with her 3 carts full of groceries.  Was glad to do it!  She insisted on a $5.00 tip, a small fortune back then.  I didn't want to take it but she insisted.  So that's the story of my tip.  Wished I'd kept it and framed it for the conversation value.

You'll find most Europeans are unsympathetic to the American Tipping Rules. If I cant get the  Waitress to get my 2nd cup of Coffee when its supposed to be "free refills" then she gets no tip at all. Same as when someone starts to clear the table while I'm still eating my dinner. Reaching across me and my meal with dirty dishes and napkins. No Tip. If I see the meal I ordered waiting to be collected and sitting there for 5 minutes getting cold - No Tip. And she takes it back to the kitchen. If they don't get well paid that's their own fault not mine. Good service gets an excellent tip !

I find that typical of Europeans, Garry. And it makes sense as in Europe most restaurants include an automatic service charge of about 10%.  That is not the case in the USA or Canada (with the exception of large parties of 8 or more in some cases).  Most waitresses don't earn anything except minimum wage plus tips, so I do tend to tip some for all but the absolute worst of service.  But certainly EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE makes me feel very generous, as it does you.

Garry, I have to disagree with you there...having worked in situations like that. It's certainly true that there are often too many tables to serve (if the owner can get by with three waiters instead of four or five, that's money in his pocket). And it's true that too many tables means poor service, even when you want to do better: You just can't, and that often means lower tips as well.


Remember: if the party coming in the door is not on your station, you're not serving them. And if they are on your station, yes: Eager to greet them and make a good impression.


So, in this situation, the waiter works more and makes less, while the owner pays less and keeps more--and the blame stays in the front of the house, not in the office.


I'm well aware that there may be many contributing factors to the problem of poor service.

But I'm not there to consider the state of the world nor am I there to balance justice among the poor.

I just want a decent meal at a decent price.

Just as in any job - my own included - people just want me to do my job. Do it well. No excuses.

And they show there gratitude occasionally, with a tip.

Its the same with me.

Good food and good service gets you well rewarded.

Shape up or Ship out !





Last edited by GarryRF

Garry, I think you missed my point. I, too, want a decent meal and good service...and when the owner sets up conditions in which either one is impossible, no matter how willing the staff...well, it's the owner who should shape up or ship out of the business.

Yes. I get the picture Paul.

To be blunt about the experience - I don't care who's fault it is !

Perhaps dining out in the UK is a less frequent event.

But when I go out for Dinner I want a pleasant experience.

I don't want to hear about other peoples problems.

I never get a reduction in the price because the service was bad.

And I'm certainly not going to reward it either !

Minimum wage of a waitress in the UK is about = $400 US for 40 hrs.

But we still tip for good service !




Before I retired, I traveled quite a bit on business, both inside the U.S. and abroad. I still travel frequently to racing and club events, but almost all are in the U.S. or Canada. That said, here’s my take on tipping:


Restaurants – According to the sources I checked, in the U.S. the Federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13. Most states have set higher amounts, but food service workers are still generally paid much lower wages that other ‘minimum wage’ employees. Unless the waiter/waitress is completely unqualified, I tip 15% (in the U.S. and Canada). Excellent service gets the server 20%. As others have said, poor service is more often than not the fault of the employer. When I run across this scenario, I don’t penalize the server – I just don’t go back to that restaurant.


Hotels – Since I almost never bother with the concierge (I’m perfectly capable of making a restaurant reservation, finding tickets or ordering a taxi), I’ve never thought about what these employees should be tipped. I usually leave either $1 or 1 Euro for the housekeeper each day. If the service is exceptional, I leave $2. If I’m very well pleased with the service at the end of my stay, I leave $5 on the day I check out. I don’t think that envelopes are necessary. Most hotels have note pads by the phone. Just wrap a blank note around the currency and write “For the housekeeper” on the front. Also, in my opinion, $4 for an extra towel is ridiculous. I’ll gladly leave and extra $1 or $2, but services like that are, to me, simply part of the job. When staying at luxury hotels, I’ve actually tracked down my ‘valet’ and tipped him/her up front to stay OUT of my room… and made sure that the person at the desk understands my request (so that the employee doesn’t get in trouble). Yes, I’m picky and I don’t like the thought of other people handling my clothes and toiletries.


Tipping is different in different parts of the world. My advice to those new to travel is to always follow the local customs. That policy makes you look like an educated traveler in the eyes of the locals and also keeps you from being called unflattering names behind your back.

also keeps you from being called unflattering names behind your back.

 No worries -  I find that people don't mind calling me unflattering news to my face
Dave B. has given this issue a lot of good thought.    My policy in the US is to tip 15 percent for adequate service.  I add and subtract 5 percent from there, depending.
According to the guidebooks, many servers outside of the US are paid professional wages.  In that case, we do not tip, but simply round up the bill.  Hope that this is not wrong.
We tend to stay in family owned hotels and tipping does not come up.  We never know just what to tip transport drivers around the world. 

I certainly understand GarryRF's comments completely.  A guest has a right to expect a good quality meal with good service.  That should be part of the dining experience.


That said, because I was raised and have lived in Canada/USA my life, I have a sensitivity to food service employees not being paid well and being stressed by their employers.  So I tend to follow Dave B's guidelines (thanks for outlining these, Dave!)  If I see a waitress is trying hard, I'll leave the 15% tip (and don't come back to the place).  For exceptional service, 20% or even better in rare instances.  Eating out tends to be cheaper in America than in Europe partially because the mandatory Service charge is not included.   Of course there are bargain meals in all areas and if someone objects to tipping, eat at a fast food place because its certainly not expected there.


I usually leave a buck or two for the maid (I just place in a visible place on the unmade bed -- always disappears), nothing for the concierge because I never use them and in the rare instances I can't manage my bags, give the bellman about $1.00 - $1.50 for getting them to the room.


But that said, I still think tips should be earned, not expected.

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