Mark Jones: Tipping has got out of hand – and we can blame the US for that
Something to Declare
Mark Jones started writing about travel for The Evening Standard in the 1990s and has been a regular contributor to the travel pages of The Independent since 2011. He edited the British Airways magazine High Life and now divides his time between that publication, the Best Western Magazine Do Not Disturb and writing. He is a past Travelex Magazine Writer of the Year (for Krakow) and in 2013 won the AITO Travel Writer of the Year award for a piece on the Galapagos. He divides his time between the Chiltern hills and the Andalucian mountains. Geographically, he specialises in – everywhere and nowhere.
Sunday 23 September 2012
Some things never get less stressful however much you travel. Tipping is one of them. I am English; hence the simple act of pulling out some change and handing it to a grateful hotel employee fills me with dread and horror.
But now my attitude to tipping is changing. Gone are the feelings of shame and confusion. Instead I'm getting cross. The US is the problem. Tipping has fallen for the supersizing epidemic. At a resort in South Carolina earlier this year, I could have dropped 20 or 30 bucks before I'd even got to the room. Someone opens your car door; someone else picks up your bags; a third opens the door to reception; a fourth shows you to the room; and a fifth brings in your bags. Five bucks every time.
Tipping is no longer about generosity. The economics of the US hospitality industry is cynically built on the tip; gratuities can make up at least 50 per cent of your server's wages.
Our European response is simple: when you add that 10-15 per cent to the bill, that should be that. "But then there's no incentive to give you outstanding service," a US hotel executive responded.
This is just not true. There's enough competition among hotels and restaurants to keep everyone trying hard. Under the American system, meanwhile, relations between guests and customers have become palpably worse post-crash. Once those beaming South Carolina welcomers, concierges and door openers figured out I wasn't going to stump up, the smiles disappeared and bleak looks chilled the air.
Maybe the world can agree on some International Gratuity Protocol. Or maybe everyone who waits on a table or carries a bag should be paid properly.
Mark Jones is editorial director of British Airways' 'High Life' and Best Western's 'Do Not Disturb' magazines
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...