Big spender: The US hospitality industry is built on tipping
Big spender: The US hospitality industry is built on tipping

Mark Jones: Tipping has got out of hand – and we can blame the US for that

Something to Declare

Mark Jones
Saturday 22 September 2012 19:01
Comments

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

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in