Using a Suggestion Box as a Tip Box at Breakfast

As I pored over photographs in preparation for an article pertaining to my recent experience at a hotel property which offered breakfast as part of the room rate, something caught my attention which I did not realize or notice while I was there…

Using a Suggestion Box as a Tip Box at Breakfast

Suggestion Tip Gratuity box

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…a small clear acrylic box was on the counter island in the middle of the breakfast area which was accompanied by a paper sign. “SUGGESTION BOX” was the title of the sign, with the words “Request? Comment? Complement? I’d love to hear it!” printed on it. The graphic on the sign showed four people with blank cartoon bubbles above their heads.

Nowhere on the sign was there any suggestion of leaving a tip or gratuity in the box, which actually had a small padlock to protect its contents — yet in addition to pieces of paper which had handwriting on them, several dollar bills and coins were also in the box.

In this article which I wrote on Saturday, February 16, 2019 pertaining to whether or not breakfast attendants at hotel properties should receive tips and gratuities from guests, I asked “what if you were a paying guest at a hotel property which offered a free continental breakfast buffet — think Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn or Holiday Inn Express as three examples — and you saw a tip jar displayed prominently in the breakfast area during the hours in the morning when breakfast is available? Would you leave a gratuity?”


A number of questions entered my mind when I stumbled over that particular photograph. For example, why would a padlock be needed on that box if it was only for suggestions? Did an employee of the hotel property who handles breakfast in the mornings “seed” that box by placing some money in there in the hopes that guests would automatically perceive it as a tip box?

I look forward to reading your thoughts; but in the meantime, gratuities and tips have long been controversial with regards to travel and dining — to the point of contentiousness from all sides of the issue, as evidenced by the following articles which I wrote for The Gate over the years…

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Using a Suggestion Box as a Tip Box at Breakfast”

  1. Ben says:

    Suggestion boxes often have a lock to prevent employees from removing a card that may have something negative about them written on it. I’ve seen it before on boxes that were clearly for suggestions.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a good point, Ben. I guess I just did not think that a padlock was needed in this case; but I suppose it is needed for the reason you cited.

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