Tips and Gratuities: Your Thoughts, Please

T ips and gratuities have long been discussed — and vehemently debated — by travelers over the years…

…so when I read this article posted by Adam at the Point Me to the Plane weblog about the ten cruise traditions which must stop now, I found it interesting but not surprising that two of those arguably reviled traditions include optional tipping and tipping for room service.

Although I have never been a passenger on a cruise ship — perhaps someday that will change — cruises are by far not the only place where tipping is optional for travelers. I cannot think of a trip I have taken where I have not encountered upon a situation where a tip or gratuity was eventually involved, as they seem to be pervasive almost everywhere: in hotel properties, at restaurants, and on tours of sites of historic significance as three examples.

For example: do you leave a tip for the housekeeping staff who cleaned and maintained your room in which you stayed as a guest in a hotel property? If so, do you do it automatically after each stay; do you do it on a daily basis; or do you do it towards the beginning of your stay to ensure that the drinking glasses in your hotel room are properly cleaned and sanitized, for example? If not, why?

How about room service — whether you are in a hotel property or on a cruise ship? Have you ever added a gratuity in addition to a mandatory service fee which had already been added to your bill?

Do you prefer when the gratuity is automatically added to your bill at a restaurant at which you had just finished your meal — as is the case in many dining establishments in Europe as an example — or would you rather determine the tip for the staff who served you, as is usually typical at restaurants in the United States?

What do you do when you receive poor or unacceptable service — whether or not a gratuity is mandatory or optional?

If a gratuity is required when using a service, should it be included as part of the total advertised cost of that service — much as is currently the case with air travel in the United States?

How do you feel about “tip jars” in eateries which are less formal than typical restaurants — such as a place where you take away food instead of consume it on the premises? Do you ever leave any money in them; add them to your credit card bill; or perhaps do not tip at all?

At least the concept of tips and gratuities has not pervaded the airline industry; although I have known fellow travelers to leave gifts for members of the flight crew — such as boxes of chocolates, for example. Do you leave gifts for members of the flight crew; and is that any different than leaving them gratuities?

I realize that the concept of tips and gratuities can vary by service as well as geographic location — and, of course, by the paradigms experienced by a person as he or she develops from childhood. Some of my thoughts on tipping and gratuities have been shared by me in this article written on April 26, 2013 called I Will Tip When I Darn Well Feel Like It where I said that a tip should be deserved, not expected; earned, not required:

“I myself am an ‘IGI’ — which stands for ‘I got it’ — when it comes to services provided at full-service hotel properties. I do not need someone to hail a taxi cab for me unless I specifically request it. I do not need anyone opening a car door for me. I do not need anyone to carry my bag, which is small enough for me to handle, thank you very much. As I said before, just leave me alone and let me go about my business — and do not expect a tip for a service which I do not need or did not request. I will decide whether I want or need the service, and I will further decide whether or not you earned or deserved a tip.”

…but now it is your turn, as I am interested in your thoughts and practices which may be discussed in greater detail for future articles here at The Gate.

Bring them on, please — that is, your comments; not the gratuities…

5 thoughts on “Tips and Gratuities: Your Thoughts, Please”

  1. Santastico says:

    “I Will Tip When I Darn Well Feel Like It”!!!! I could not agree more. I hate when people expect me to tip just because that is the way they think it should be. It is totally invasive and it makes me want to skip a bunch of services such as room service, bellman, etc.. For example, I am charged $33/night for valet parking. It is not that I am trying to be snobbish and I cannot park my own car but in most high end hotels that is the only options. So, why should I on top of that have to tip every time I get my car out? How about restaurants? Add 18% gratuity for large parties? Why? The more people you bring to the restaurant the more you will consume. Thus, why this ridiculous “mandatory” gratuity? For me the worst feeling of entitlement came from a NYC cab driver in which I asked how much would be a ride from JFK to Manhattan and he responded: “$xxx plus tool plus TIP”. WTF!!!!! I prefer that whatever tip is expected is already added to the cost of goods/services and I will decide if that cost is adequate.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am not sure as to the reason for the mandatory gratuity, Santastico. Perhaps it is to ensure that the wait staff is compensated enough for the time and effort required to serve a large crowd?

  2. Angelina says:

    Tipping is becoming so out of control in the states. I can’t stand it! I wrote about a few situations I’ve encountered that made my blood boil. http://justanotherpointstraveler.boardingarea.com/2014/01/20/discussion-yet-another-tipping-post/

    There really needs to be some revolution.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I just shook my head reading your article, Angelina. For those of you who have not yet read it, please click on the link she provided.

      I am not shy about not leaving a tip; but the service has to be really bad or non-existent for that to happen…

      …otherwise, I just adjust the percentage I leave based on the quality of service…

  3. Richard says:

    I always tip housekeeping on a daily basis as sometimes staff can change &
    the wrong person will get the tip. I would not tip on room service as it is usually added to bill. Santastico lives in his own world. In the USA. A taxi driver expects to get tipped! If you can’t afford a taxi , take a bus.
    On cruise ships, I like the mandatory system of adding it to your bill.
    Many Europeans never tip at home & so resent the custom in the USA.

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