A Traveler’s Guide to Tipping in a Changed World

Not long into the pandemic, Americans were eager to tip their front-line-working baristas and servers. But now that tip fatigue has set in — driven by the proliferation of payment tablets that suggest tipping for everything from a sandwich at a grab-and-go counter to an ultrasound — consumers are often bewildered by when and how much to tip.

“This is the hottest topic in etiquette right now,” said Daniel Post Senning, the co-author of “Emily Post Etiquette, The Centennial Edition” and the great-great grandson of the etiquette icon Emily Post. He cites the pressure of inflation, the disruption of the pandemic and the rush back to travel for the unease. “There’s growing anxiety and public discussion around tipping.”

Offering guidance on when and how much to tip when you travel, etiquette experts, academics and travelers weighed in with the following advice.

Tipping standards at restaurants vary widely around the world. In the United States, the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests in its “Gratuity Guide” leaving 15 percent of the total bill or up to 20 percent for extraordinary service.

“The minimum is 15 percent,” said Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and the founder of the Swann School of Protocol in Carlsbad, Calif. “It can be increased from there based on the level of service received.”

Before the pandemic, tip averages in restaurants nationally had crept up to 18 percent, a standard that fell back to 15 percent more recently as inflation grew, according to Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor in the hospitality school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I don’t think consumers want to be stingy, but everybody’s budget is tight and they’re trying to make trade-off decisions,” she said.

Despite expert advice, consumers may not have a choice. In many American cities, tips are increasingly included in the bill and often are well above 15 percent. A recent article making the rounds in New York argues for a 20 to 25 percent standard.

At a trendy cocktail bar in Los Angeles recently, an $18 drink came to $24 after an 18 percent gratuity and an additional fee for employee health care. The bartender mentioned that the establishment includes tips in their tallies because it serves many guests from foreign countries where tipping is not standard.

According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, service charges benefit all employees, including cooks and dishwashers as well as waiters. “The service charge model ensures that employee compensation is fair, reliable and not reliant on the diners’ experience or bias,” said Erika Polmar, the executive director of the coalition.

Most experts agree taxi or rideshare drivers deserve 15 to 20 percent of the fare, depending on the service and the cleanliness of the vehicle. (Ms. Swann once rode in a rideshare car filled with dog hair and made the rare decision not to tip.)

Airport skycaps and the bell people at a hotel should get a few dollars a bag, based on service, and perhaps more if the task is onerous, like handling golf or ski bags. Valet parkers should get $2 to $5 at drop-off and pickup.

And if you only have larger bills, Ms. Swann added, it’s perfectly fine to ask for change back.

Etiquette experts say hotel guests should leave $2 to $5 a night for the housekeeper each morning. The American Hotel & Lodging Association recommends $1 to $5 a night left daily, preferably in a marked envelope making it clear that it is intended for the housekeeper. In its tipping guide, UNITE HERE, the labor union whose members include hotel workers, suggests a minimum of $5 a day and more for suites.

Not many travelers comply.

Despite having the most physically demanding jobs in hotels with few avenues for advancement, “hotel housekeepers are some of the least-often tipped employees in the service industry,” according to Dr. Belarmino of U.N.L.V. “Unlike servers, who are often paid less than minimum wage that is then made up by tips, hotel housekeepers’ pay is not contingent upon tips. However, it is a courtesy to tip them.”

But in the age of infrequent or optional room cleaning, which has become more common since the pandemic, the guidelines get murkier. “If you stay one night or if you choose to skip housekeeping, I would recommend tipping about $5 at checkout,” Dr. Belarmino said.

In cafes and cabs, she rounds up and leaves the change.

“France pays its employees a living wage, unlike the U.S.,” wrote Janice Wang, an American living in France who runs a Facebook group for expatriates there, in an email. “Hence, servers, hairdressers and cabdrivers don’t need tips to live. They appreciate them, but don’t need them. And they never expect a tip.”

Guide services come in many varieties — from a walking tour leader to a mountaineer who helps you navigate a rock face. Travelers might engage their services for a half-day trip, a two-week tour, and everything in between and beyond.

The global tour company Intrepid Travel states on its website that “tipping is never compulsory, but always appreciated,” while also making the point that tips are a big part of a guide’s income, especially in the United States and Southeast Asia. On a multiday small-group trip in the United States, the company suggests tipping $7 to $10 a day.

The tour company Exit Glacier Guides notes that 10 to 20 percent of the trip cost for its wilderness outings is standard where it operates in Seward, Alaska. The tip for a group walk led by a naturalist beside the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park that costs $59 a person would therefore be about $6 to $12 a person.

CIE Tours, which offers group trips in Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Britain, recommends tipping tour leaders and bus drivers the equivalent in local currency of roughly $7 to $10 each a day, depending on the location.

Sahred From Source link Travel

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