Tips on Tipping....Expert Advice

A frequently asked question is about how, when, and who to tip in certain situations.  It's sometimes hard to answer specifically because there are no hard and fast rules about tipping.  Although, there are some guidelines to follow.  Something good to remember is that T.I.P. stands for To Insure Promptness.  So tips do not have to be given after a service has been made, it can be given before the service is done to insure that service will be done well and to your standards.  For example, if you are hosting a business lunch meeting, you may arrive early and talk with your waiter or waitress about important details that you want administered during that lunch.  You may also give your credit card ahead of time so there is no question on who will be paying.  At this time, it would be appropriate to tip to insure this will be done properly.  Tipping is appropriate for anyone that does their job well that is doing a service for you.  When at the grocery store, tip the person that brings your groceries to the car and puts them away for you.  Tip your hairstylist, massage therapist, manicurist, wedding coordinator, waiter or waitress based on the quality of effort and quantity of the bill.  The going rate is between fifteen and twenty percent.

The guidelines of tipping when visiting a hotel is a little more specific.  One dollar to the doorman of he gets you a taxi; two dollars if it's raining or he has had to go out of his way to find you a cab.  A minimum of one dollar per bag to the porter when you are checking in or leaving; more if the bags are heavy.  A minimum of two dollars to the room service waiter each time he brings you something.  Two dollars per night to the maid; three dollars if two or more people are sharing the room.  Put this in an envelope with the maids name or "Chambermaid" written on it.  Two dollars for the doorman or parking valet for bringing your car around.  At least three dollars or more for the concierge who does something extra for you, like bringing the newspaper to you or having to bring you something from the drug store.  If the concierge gets you something like tickets to a play or opera or secures reservations for you at the hard to get in, hottest restaurant in town, then the tip should be based on ten percent of the cost.

There is no tipping on airplanes, although the skycap (luggage porter) at the airport is given two dollars per bag checked.  When on a cruise, each steamship company has its own gratuity system and most provide passengers with a list of recommendations.  You can also check with your travel agent for tipping suggestions.  (It's a good idea to find out about tipping ahead of time so you'll know how much cash to take along for that purpose.)  When you arrive at the ship tip the porter that loads your bags and take them directly to your cabin.  Porters are tipped a minimum of two dollars per bag, more if trunks are involved.  .  A tip of ten to fifteen dollars should be given to the cabin and dining-room stewards at the beginning of the trip to insure great service.  Then a regular tip of about three dollars per day.  These tips are not given everyday, but rather, on the last day of the cruise, put your tips in envelopes and enclose a note of appreciation to each one.  Everyone else that does a service for you should be tipped  between fifteen and twenty percent of the bill at time of service.  The ship's officers and the cruise director are never tipped.

We all have our own breech of etiquette pet peeves.  Lack of a tip for special favors can be a pet peeve, especially if you are on the receiving end.  Is there a breech of etiquette pet peeve that you have?  If so, write or e-mail them to me for my next article.