Tipping At Hotels Outside The US

Aside from seat recline and toddlers on planes, I feel like there’s not a more hot-button topic in our community than tipping.

As I’ve said many times before, I tend to over-tip. Is the tipping system in the US screwed up? Absolutely. But at the same time I don’t want a bad system to negatively impact those providing me with great service who rely on tips to make ends meet.

Let me also say that I try not to judge others when it comes to tipping “norms” — in other words, in situations where there’s not an obvious right or wrong approach, I don’t judge those that don’t tip.

There are some scenarios — like in a US restaurant — where I think we all agree it’s appropriate and necessary to tip (even if you disagree with the system as such). But then there are many gray areas, some of which I’ve addressed in the past:

As you guys know, I’m just wrapping up a stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives, and I got into a discussion with an Australian friend about tipping. When you stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives you’re assigned a “host” who basically looks after you and coordinates stuff for you for the duration of your stay.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives

Somehow I started talking with my friend about about whether that host “deserved” to be tipped or not. I’m not saying others should tip a person in such a role, but I certainly will.

Our conversation went something like this:

Him: “You’re not in the US, why would you tip?”
Me: “Ultimately this is a US hotel chain and a lot of people staying here are American, and surely many of them tip.”
Him: “But this isn’t the US. In Australia we wouldn’t tip a server or anyone else just doing their job.”

That made me realize that in some ways my stance was sort of a stretch. I was basically arguing that tipping was appropriate because this is a US hotel chain and it has a lot of guests from the US, and presumably many of those guests do tip. So at some point tipping does become the norm, and you’re sort of out of place not to tip… at least as an American.

Maldives

As I said above, this is all an internal dialogue, and not something I’m applying to others. But I’d be curious to hear what you guys think:

  • When staying at a hotel outside the US, does your approach towards tipping change depending on whether you’re staying at a US or non-US hotel chain?
  • Does the fact that (presumably) others are (perhaps) unnecessarily tipping change your desire to tip as well?

For me it’s very simple.

Ultimately I think those in the hospitality and service industry work very hard, and I’d always like to do what I can to take care of them. Of course I always try to be nice to them and thank them for what they do, but beyond that I recognize the sacrifices they make for their jobs, especially somewhere like the Maldives, where they’re apart from their families for months at a time and living on property.

If I can tangibly express my gratitude to them, I will.

I’d be curious to hear where you guys stand on tipping at US hotel chains outside the US! What factors into your decision making process?

Comments

  1. It isn’t the culture of where you come from, or where corporate headquarters that counts, it’s the culture where you are.

    Maldives is tricky because it’s an artificial (in a great way) culture. But if tipping isn’t the local culture, then don’t tip. You spoil the culture, raise costs and lower service quality for the locals.

    It’s also about how much to tip. In France, a few euros (basically leaving the change on the table) is what’s indicated. I don’t think you would tip 10% even in a Michelin 3*. In Korea, no tipping at all. Singapore no tipping. In Vietnam, light tipping. In Egypt, tiny tips to almost everyone (annoying, but that’s the culture). In Italy, locals often don’t tip, I tend to tip 10% because it’s not uniform. But sometimes I don’t tip at all.

  2. I should add that I did tip my host at the Maldives, and left something for the maid. That isn’t going to spoil the local culture because the locals are not guests at the establishment.

  3. in the U.K, it’s often called a service charge, currently at approximately 12%, and is often added to your bill.

  4. Had a very similar conversation with a couple from the UK while in S.Africa. He made me laugh when he told me American tourists go somewhere and completely screw up the system by overtipping or tipping when it’s unnecessary. They had similar complaints about traveling in the U.S. because prices aren’t what they seem: “Once you add tax and the expected tip, everything costs a fortune.”

  5. I agree with beachfan – it depends on the country I’m visiting, and has nothing whatsoever to do with what country a hotel has its base.

    I won’t tip anywhere where the service charge is already added in, unless something was done significantly above and beyond. In S. Africa, I tip much as I do in the USA, but then I also tip car park attendants and the petrol station attendants if they check the oil or wash the wind screen.

    In the USA, I tend to tip restaurant servers >20%, mostly because I can. Seeing as so many employers in the USA don’t seem to care about providing a living wage, I do what I can where I can to spread the wealth a little more evenly. However I’m also lucky enough to understand the tip culture in the USA, and I can only imagine how confusing and maddening it is for visitors from other countries. Oh, and hello? NO, YOU DON’T TIP FOR COUNTER SERVICE WHERE YOU GO TO THE COUNTER, PAY, AND THEN CARRY YOUR FOOD AWAY. That’s super-annoying and ridiculous.

  6. It’s a bit of a grey area when you’re talking about somewhere like the park Hyatt in the Maldives because over time that has become the norms (and in a way our North American friends have created this social expectation somewhere it previously didn’t exist). In saying that though, you can’t use the same argument somewhere like in Sydney (my home town) at the park Hyatt. If everyone tipped the staff there, then they would become grossly over paid on top of their already decent wage.

    As contentious as it is, I feel like tipping should be confined to North America where it is needed to supplement low wages but left out elsewhere. In most cases around the world, people are being paid a decent wage comparatively to the local norm. There should be no need to supplement their income irrespective of how well they have done their job or if you feel like you should because you’re used to it.

  7. I’ve come to learn after many years of doing international travel that it’s about the location you are in. The chain that I am staying at does not have anything to do with the decision to tip. In the US, tipping is normal. In some countries, tipping a lower percentage compared to a standard tip in the US is normal. And in many countries, tipping is perceived as unnecessary and can even be offensive. One should always try to learn about the tipping culture in countries before they travel, or ask a local upon arrival about what is appropriate for tips and if it’s necessary to tip.

  8. Read a great WSJ article on the French waiter and how they view the big tipper as somewhat less intelligent and as in need of making a power statement………..I think it is ultimately better to fit into the culture as opposed to standing out……..

  9. Lucky, when in Rome….
    As others have said, I try to figure out what the local norm is and stick with that. Admittedly, sometimes figuring out what the local norm is can be difficult. But there are usually guidelines available on line or in books.
    You really shouldn’t be trying to tip based on hotel ownership, or nationality of the guests. If that were the standard, I guess we could significantly lower the amount of tipping done at Waikiki based on the high number of Japanese tourists. And I certainly don’t want to have to figure out who owns a hotel to decide whether and how much to tip.

  10. Lucky, think of what you’re saying in reverse. If you were patronizing a Japanese-owned restaurant in America, would you not tip because they’re headquartered in Japan? Of course not. You’d tip because the American standard is to tip. And if you are in Japan at a US-owned chain, you don’t tip because that’s not part of the culture. Who owns the place should have no bearing on whether you tip.

  11. Without reading your full post, my immediate reaction is don’t tip. It is a scam. What the hell are you paying the hotel for if you have to tip for every damn thing?

  12. For me, the base of the hotel is irrelevant. It is more about the people and the service. I think it only fair to reward good service. It is also why, as a Brit, I struggle with the concept that you need to automatically tip 20% in the US – even on occasions when the service is not that great. I don’t agree with where the US have got to with their tipping culture – it should be discretionary and based on good service; not assumed. Personally, when staying at a resort, I like when they provide the opportunity to give one tip which goes into a pool that all staff benefit from. I like this option as there are often so many people working in roles which are more behind the scenes but working just as hard as those in more customer facing roles. However, they all contribute towards the experience. The last 3 resorts I have stayed at have done this and I much prefer to have that option. In each case, the service was great and we tipped generously as it was deserved so it was not a case of wriggling out of tipping. It is just good to know that everyone gets recognized.

  13. Agree with literally everyone else- tip according to local culture. Not only is it more respectful, it can be less akward.

  14. I think people who are obsessed about tipping are overly needy, and are worried too much about what people think of them. Tipping a lot doesn’t make people like you. As you travel around the world, ask locals if they would tip, and follow their customs. Don’t go somewhere and tip where it’s not expected. People could take it the wrong way (i.e., that this American guy thinks he has so much and he’s showing off). The American way isn’t always the right way… remember that while you’re traveling, please.

  15. What @Arnold said. I hate going to a new country and some taxi driver expects a tip when the locals don’t tip, all because his previous passenger was American.

  16. I don’t see any downside to tipping if you want to in foreign countries. Except in certain countries or settings where tipping is seen rude, I don’t see how anyone gets hurt in the process, especially service workers at luxury resorts who probably aren’t making very much.

    @ Clare As problematic as US tipping culture is, you absolutely have to tip restaurant wait staff in the US. Restaurants are legally allowed to pay below our already pitiful minimum wage because of the expectation of tips. 15% barely brings most servers up to a minimum wage (which is still below the minimum wage elsewhere). Unless your server is over the top terrible and literally fails at his or her job, you really shouldn’t be tipping any less than 15%. Think of it this way, if tipping were suddenly banned in the US all of the restaurant waitstaff would suddenly have to be paid more by their employers, who would obviously pass the costs on to the customer in the form of higher prices on the menu. Basically if there were no tipping, you would have no choice whether or not to pay the server more or less if they did a bad job because you would have already paid them that extra 15% or so when you ordered your food. You shouldn’t get away with contributing towards a server not earning a minimum wage simply because the inane tipping regime exists.

  17. An interesting experiment is going on in Seattle. A minimum wage of $15.00 for ALL workers is being phased in over the next few years. One restaurant has already started paying all workers $15.00 per hour after raising the menu prices by, I think, about 20%. There is a note on the menu that there is no tipping and on the receipts there is no line entry for a tip. It will be interesting to see if the tipping culture changes in Seattle over the next few years.

  18. I’m clearly in the minority here — but then I’m known for throwing polite fireballs into conversations (even if it is the first time I’ve participated here)…

    My first question is whether those that leave significant tips to hotel staff get reimbursed for them by their employer. It’s always easy to give away someone else’s money (unless you are a foundation — but giving away that kind of money is on an entirely different scale).

    I’ve travelled to 103 countries and territories around the world (according to http://travelerscenturyclub.org/countries-and-territories). I rarely tip unless someone does something above-and-beyond. But here is what I do do which is worth a lot more to the employee than whether they got $1 or $5/day from me:

    I fill out the comment card and list the names of those employees who made my stay a welcome one. If they allow space, I’ll write a sentence or more to explain why I am listing that person’s name.

    This goes to their managers and they may win an employee-of-the-month award or a raise during the annual review (if they get enough guests writing in). Having that kind of ongoing day-to-day recognition from their peers and managers is worth a lot more to them. How do I know? Because: (1) I’ve asked them and (2) I’m affiliated with one of the top hotel management schools in the world; I’ve taken some of their courses and I know something about how the industry works.

    And for those who are curious: I’ve earned over three million miles from my travels, made over 130 roundtrips to Europe, and have lifetime gold status on American and at Starwood — and would already have it on British Airways if they offered it based on the same methodology that American uses.

  19. I always tip for good service, unless tip is included (normally 18%). If the service is extremely good I will tip a little more and even add to the 18% included tip. I don’t believe that tips will ruin the system or culture. I believe that it encourages great service.

    If I’m at a hotel for a few days and will rely on the concierge, first thing I do is tip him/her. That alone will ensure that they will send me to a place that they would send their own family rather than the place that gives them kick-backs.
    Also I’m not talking about offensive tips, just something that shows you appreciate their professionalism.

  20. To be honest I don’t think that where the hotel’s headquarters is should be relevant in the slightest!

    You need to make a judgement call based on several things:

    1) Is tipping in hotels the norm in the country I’m staying in e.g: USA yes, Australia no.

    2) Has the hotel already added on any mandatory service charges?

    3) Was the service particularly good? If so then regardless of the above two points I’d still make the decision to offer a small tip.

  21. Please tip as the locals would! Also, I have found travel magazines can be outright wrong about local tipping culture. Tipping for the most part is relegated to the US because employers can legally pay less than minimum wage. There is generally no tipping an any Asian country, though many times service people in tourist areas will expect a tip because Americans tend to spoil the culture. Unfortunately a lot of Americans don’t understand the culture of tipping has gotten out of hand in the US and carry it with them usually out of ignorance when they travel. I always try to learn the local custom and practice first.

  22. I’ve had tips returned in New Zeeland and Singapore.

    @ Chasegoose – It does have an impact if you tip when the culture isn’t – at some point it makes locals second tier customers. It is an inflationary force as well. And I say that as someone who would be considered a good tipper in the US.

    If it wasn’t harmful, why do locals who I become friendly with chastize me if I’m not tipping according to local custom. It’s not only because of their concern for my wallet.

    The issue is, rightly or wrongly, in the US, the base pay isn’t a living wage whereas in Europe it is, and they have national health insurance, many safety programs, etc.

  23. When in Rome, do as Romans do…

    The first thing to do is to know the local customs and mores. For instance, waitstaff in many (most) but not all restaurants in China can get fired if they are seen accepting tip. Hilton Wangfujing in Beijing even created a fig leaf to enable their bartenders and waitstaff to accept tips: anyone receiving tip had to have the person tipping say in writing why he or she tipped! Once in Shanghai, I purposely left tip on the table after dining with Chinese friend who told me that tipping was not allowed. We walked out only to be hailed seconds later by our waitress: “Excuse me, you left your money on table!” 😉 I said “I know, you can keep it.” She insisted that she could not [the solution in such a case is to ask the manager if it is alright to tip because the service was absolutely superlative].

    In the US (United Club) but not overseas, I would tip servers in an airport club lounge only if I sit at the bar (clubs overseas tend not to have a bar). I would tip an airline chauffeur if I am in a good mood and have the right amount of tip in the right currency (no tipping with a large bill and waiting for my change). I universally do not tip in a hotel club lounge.

  24. @chasgoose, my vote is for transparent prices. Let’s stop tipping and force employers to pay living wages and include health insurance. It’s the only respectable and human action that you can do for your fellow American. I personally don’t value service, however, I value making sure that anyone willing to work hard should get a reasonable wage.

  25. You raise a very interesting question. I try to tip in line with the local custom. The problem can be determining what that custom is.

  26. @ Greg;

    If I’m on business, then my employer pays the tips, with the exception that when I go over the daily guideline for meals (which is every day), then the extra is out of pocket. All the tip in that case would be out of pocket. But maid and bellman tips are covered.

    If I’m on personal travel, I tip the same way as if I was on business travel. While all my international travel is personal (and that’s often lower tips), much of my fine dining in the US is on my own nickel, and I tip 20% on top of meal and tax for well executed service. More if something special (like I bring my own wine), less is service is flawed. But overall, I’m talking about my nickel, not my bosses.

  27. @ Greg

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    It’s nice that you fill out the comment cards, but if you think tha maidst, in the US, they are happier with your comment cards than my daily $2 – $3 tip for good service, I suggest you ask some of them. That amount is significant to them even though you don’t think it counts as much as a written compliemtn.

  28. @ Lucky… to get to the initial question you pose – If at a US chain outside the US, no tipping. Hotel workers in ‘most’ countries are paid a living wage (unlike the US where this is not the case). In the event someone goes above and beyond their perfunctory duty, I will leave something extra to show my gratitude (gratuity). Why pay somebody more money for doing the basic duties they were engaged to perform? Smile, be polite, take orders for food and drink, deliver same in timely manner, check on guests mid-meal, once finished clear dishes. THATS THEIR JOB. That is all.

  29. I prefer gifting over tipping, and while tipping is necessary in the US for most things, I still tip in accordance with service provided (larger tips for great service, to token tips for poor service).

    If I encounter meritorious service in my travels, or simply behaviour from strangers that is very kind, I’ll often give them a silver bullion coin as a token of my thanks (while it has a notional face value of a dollar as it’s legal currency, it’s actually worth a little under $50). I find, in non-tipping cultures, a gift of this nature is more acceptable than just giving someone a monetary trip. As it’s rather an attractive minted coin, of high quality and in it’s own presentation case, it’s something people willingly accept.

    It’s just a small tangible way of giving thanks, without getting too loaded as simply giving dollar notes can be (which I think should be reserved for those places where tipping is a transfer of employer wage responsibilities).

  30. I find tipping in some cultures is offensive. There were many occasions I tried to tip people in Asia and in Europe and they promptly declined and felt a little embarrassed with me offering money to them.

  31. You are just another American who thinks they are above all and ruining things for people who live in our part of the world. Go by what the norm is where you are visiting and not at home.

  32. Even before my daughter began working in the service sector, I have always tipped generously for good service. But, tipping HAS gotten out of control in North America and employers take full advantage of it. I especially love their defence that if they were to eliminate tipping, prices would go up. OK… but that wouldn’t necessarily mean more money leaving my wallet since I’m already being guilted into leaving something for the employee(s).

    Tips were supposed to be a reward for exceptional service, but now it’s something that’s expected by everyone working in hotels and food & beverage. Airline employees provide (at times outstanding) service to customers yet they qualify for tips.

  33. Yeah, in Peru and Chile, I have to tell them that’s tip. It was awarkward when hotel staffs receive my tips. I talked with a Chiean friend, he told me service charges are already included in my hotel rates.
    In general, you don’t tip if service charge is included. However, I was told that if you let them know you are American, then they expect you tips. But if you told them you are from a country that there is no tip culture like Germany or Japan, then they don’t expect you tip.
    Sadly, tips almost become taxes imposed on American, no matter where, people always expect Americans to tip because of many other Americans ( like Lucky) did that…

  34. Well, if you apply your logic to Japan, where tipping is frowned upon, would you tip staff at the Hyatt or the Hilton?

    When in Rome do as the Romans do, IMO.

  35. @Santastico In Shanghai and Hongkong, I even saw “no tipping” sign in restaurants, where generally people would have to tip in U.S.
    I talked to one of heir bosses, he said he didn’t want employees became extremely courteous when saw white people , and neglected customers who are Asian because of the expectation of tips.

  36. I hate tipping because it’s not agreed upon, and because I hate having to have just the right amount of money to tip. I prefer not to carry/handle cash at all (you never know where it’s been, just anyone who’s worked in a county hospital ER).

    Just give me an up front price. Include a standard percentage, or an amount, if needed. If I feel the service is excellent, the reward is that I’ll come back. I’ll happily pay a premium for good service.

    It really doesn’t make sense to me that a waiter can open a bottle of wine and expect double the tip when the wine costs twice as much. I think it leads to workers profiling customers (good tipper, bad tipper) and only doing a good a job for extra money.

  37. I agree with Nick that there are two standards, internationally. If you are American, by and large you ARE expected to tip. I cannot count how many people have told me this. “If you are American, we expect you to tip.” I think part of it is based on experience (we’ve “ruined” the world), but part of it is based on the (not entirely inaccurate) assumption that we are so wealthy. But, the primary reason I tip well everywhere I go (I have not yet visited places where tipping is rude–but will be doing so this Fall) is that I AM wealthy compared to these people, and I believe that it is wrong for people to work very hard and be paid so little. Yes, I work very, very hard for my money, and I’ve worked for many years to be able to make what I make. But, I was born on 3rd base (as were almost all Americans) and I damn well know it. Not tipping those people because they’re “just doing their job” is just selfish. They work harder than I could or would ever work and should get something from me for doing so for my benefit.

  38. I wish someone would tip me for being halfway around the world, apart from my family, to make a living working for a financial service company here in NYC. As if it wasn’t my choice, as if I am being enslaved here. Well, considering the hours I work, maybe the last bit could be true. But that’s for another time. There are so many faulty arguments for tipping, and this one Lucky just mentioned takes it to another level.

    Can we just all agree to get rid of tipping somehow? Restaurants should pay waiters enough. I don’t want to list out myriad of reasons for why tipping is actually not encouraging good services, but rather destroying them. But I want to just bring up a case. I spent a few years in Japan, and society as a whole takes pride in what they do, delivers what they promise, and expects no more than what they advertise. If American service culture could become half as good, where people actually truly respect each other as well as themselves and their own job, we may not have to fear China ever catching up to us.

  39. mbh, will you tip me? I work very hard and probably get paid lesser compared to other top people my age in NYC. Where do you draw the line? Because you tip well that people who are less wealthy than you are also expected to tip though it’s not within their mean or simply not wanting to do so, is that fair?

  40. @ABC I 100% agree. But until that day comes, if you are in the US (and not in one of the few jurisdictions that don’t exempt restaurant servers from minimum wage requirements) you absolutely have to tip 15% regardless of the service or else you are helping to exploit restaurant staff. There’s no other service position out there where you can justify reducing someone’s wages to below minimum wage simply because they didn’t do a good job.

  41. Tipping is gratefully accepted in Canada (don’t try it with the CBSA agents, though).
    I can’t comment on chain hotels, since I never stay in them — prefer to support the local economy.

  42. Hyatt usually charges about 15% service fee and while in taipei they automatically added to bill.
    The Conrad Maldives we stayed two weeks ago has 10% and 12% guest service fee and tax respectfully so we didn’t leave anything more for our host.

  43. I wonder if the need to tip in a country where tipping is not the norm says more about your sense of security, or insecurity for that matter?

    Is the desire to be liked so palpable that one feels the need to return good service with a cash reward?

    Perhaps one should be secure enough to limit consideration to the amount on the bill, when there is reason to believe employees get a decent wage from the establishment, in line with the local industrial relations laws.

  44. Being from the UK, I believe that you are being held hostage to the tipping culture in the U.S..

    Suggested tips are now even printed on the checks, and rarely are less than 15pct minimum, and go to 25pct! What happened to 10pct? Your percentage does not need to increase as inflation does, as that is already reflected in the check.

    Some checks already include a service charge, and yet include space for a tip…a slight of hand to catch the unwary.

    You even appear to give the minimum for bad service, which just makes it a service tax!

  45. @Thanh – “Restaurants should pay waiters enough.”

    They SHOULD, but they DON’T. And until they do, this is what we’ve got.

    “If American service culture could become half as good, where people actually truly respect each other as well as themselves and their own job”

    There is a greater chance of Barack Obama announcing that he is changing parties to become a Republican. It simply will not happen.

    @Mick – “I can’t comment on chain hotels, since I never stay in them — prefer to support the local economy.”

    Where do you think people who work in local locations of chain hotels come from?

  46. I once asked lucky whether to tip in korea. He said it’s not necessary. But I tipped anyway.
    I figured the money is not going to the hotel but to the housekeepers who are, in most part, poor.
    in China, I tip 10 rmb and in korea 1000 to 2000 won per day.

    on many occasions, i found extra bottled waters on the second day of stay.

  47. I think you have to tip based on the customs of your current location.

    I wouldn’t take the location of the brand’s HQ into consideration. If you did that, I’m sure that the bellmen or servers at the Sofitel NYC wouldn’t be so happy with you…

  48. @Brian L.:

    At the menial level, probably locally. Managerially, who knows?
    But actually, I was referring to the OWNERS of independent hotels, hostels, guesthouses, B&Bs, etc…..local businesspeople.

    In contrast, chains are owned exclusively(?) by the multi-nationals.

  49. Tipping seems to be the subject that can cause the most controversy, so I’m surprised at a) How few responses there are to this post and b) How polite we’re all being!

    Being English, I have a real thing against tipping for the sake of it. It’s not within our culture to do it and I’ve never once felt in a hotel in the UK that I was expected to do it. Contract to America, I feel obliged to do it for almost everything, whereas in almost any other country I do it because I want to for exceptional service. I was told by the manager at Zuma, Miami that with the service charge of (I forget the exact number) between 15-20%, you would then be expected to tip your waiter on top of the standard 20%. So really, excluding tax, your meal is 40% more than it should be. There has to come a limit where it’s completely scaled back and put into perspective again. In London, they take the service charge and there’s not even the option to add a tip afterwards, although of course you could give the waiter cash if you really wanted, but they certainly don’t expect it.

    Articles like this do not help either, as it seems to suggest almost everywhere you should tip, which just isn’t true:
    http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2008-11-11/etiquette-101-tipping-guide

    I take the view of mbh, which is that I consider it a huge honour that I’m able to tip people for exceptional service, and in certain countries (mostly Asian), I’m able to truly make a difference to someone’s life who is earning so little in the first place, whilst the hotel charges so much. It is not inconceivable that if you stay in a hotel for 5-7 days and leave a decent tip that you are giving someone a months salary. For exceptional service I’m happy to do that.

  50. @Tom C.:
    “… I’m able to truly make a difference to someone’s life who is earning so little in the first place, whilst the hotel charges so much. It is not inconceivable that if you stay in a hotel for 5-7 days and leave a decent tip that you are giving someone a months salary. For exceptional service I’m happy to do that.”

    Kudos to you Tom. The big money goes to the chains, while often, the real workers get a pittance. Aside from changing the entire system, it is up to us to equalize this gross imbalance

  51. Longtime reader here. After spending 10 days in melbourne I wasn’t suprised by that response! Even servers in Australia make about $30usd an hour. That’s why you don’t tip, because you just paid Vegas strip club prices for a beer and meals make you think your eating fresh Maine lobster in Oklahoma. Thus they make what a good server would with tips in the states without actually giving a $hi!.
    Just spent the week here in bali and I am forever grateful to be an American! Staying in a lower end lodging but still a privat bungalow on a local beach in Amed. Ozzies and most Europeans do not tip ever. And in their country’s, why would you!…. So if it becomes known that your American, you might as well have a butler… A dollar here and there makes me an ugly American but now my humble bungalow has 3 fans, small fridge and fresh fruits and coffe brought as soon as I sit outside to read your blog every morning. The kitchen girls ask today after lunch what I wanted for breckfast so I have my fingers crossed it’s brought as well. Yes it is all included, but I didn’t just walk the 75 meters to ask for it and lug a big tray back to my wife. In the end after a week stay I would guess it’s only $30 in tips for 6 nights. Well worth it!

  52. With what @Tom C just stated so eloquently in mind, I almost invariably leave money in local currency with a thank you note in the local language (Xie xie ni!) in the room for whoever would come in to service it after I check out, especially after an extended stay during my room was kept spotless and “refreshed” at least twice a day as they do in Asia. After all “TIP” does stand for Thanks In Payment 😉

  53. @Santastico – Interesting. Out of curiosity, which European countries find tipping offensive?

  54. If a service charge is included and you are in a location where tipping is not the norm then why bother. However, if somebody has gone out of their way to provide excellent service above and beyond what would normally be expected than a small tip is reasonable.

    Just my 2 cents

  55. Hehe sometimes I think you just get bored, Lucky, and pull out the old tipping topic to have a laugh at all our replies 😛

    I’m in Oz just now and am loving the lack of expectation of a tip – so much more relaxing and hassle-free.

    I truly can’t understand why someone should get tipped more when I pick (for example) a really expensive bottle of wine vs a cheaper one. They’re still doing the same thing, opening a bottle of wine (which nowadays is normally screwcap anyway!).

    I also completely appreciate the living wage argument but the percentage tips now being expected in the US (>20%) make this a pretty bonkers argument. Posters up thread referenced the hourly rate of A$30/h for a waiter in Australia, which was felt to be reasonable and far better than the $5/h or so on offer to servers in the US. Yet even on very conservative estimates each server will be finalising >$150/h of bills for customers so at 20% tip rate are already earning way over that ‘well paid’ Australian waiter! The increase in prices on the menu for the restaurant to pay an equivalent of A$30/h is a fraction of all customers tipping 20%.

  56. @ TravelingWilly

    > Seeing as so many employers in the USA don’t seem to care about providing a living wage, I do what I can where I can to spread the wealth a little more evenly.

    Employers in the USA don’t provide a living wage BECAUSE people tip so much. Servers in the USA are paid a lower inflation-adjusted wage now that “normal” tipping is 18% than 20 years ago when the “normal” tip was 15%. Specifically, the “tipped minimum wage” has not been adjusted since 1991, when it was last bumped to $2.13 per hour. And apparently the average server in Atlanta makes almost $50,000 per year (source: http://houston.culturemap.com/news/restaurants-bars/12-28-11-being-a-waiter-is-a-better-job-than-you-think-average-salary-of-49000-a-year-in-houston/)

    Higher tipping = lower wages. It’s not the other way around!

  57. We tipped the host both when we arrived at the Conrad Maldievs and when We leave the hotel I tipped him again. The host took care of my families of 7 people for 4 days. I booked beach villa with Hilton Honor and gave us free upgrade to 2 overwater villas with spa retreat rooms for the last night. and let us stay till 6pm the next day for us to check out with the last flight out of the resort at 6pm.He even got one of my 2 year old flight cost waived at check out. It definitly worth the $50 tip. The key probably is that you need to tip the host right when you arrive… Sort of like the $20 trick in Vegas…

  58. Lucky,

    I guess you don’t expect a Japanese customer to tip the American bellboy at the Hotel Nikko in New York.

    The Nikko is a Japanese chain hotel, so the Japanese customer, using your logic, will use his home customs and will not insult and denigrate the bellboy by treating him as if he were a pauper needing charity (which is how tips are perceived in Japan).

    Do you see the severe fault of your logic? When in Rome, do as the Roman do. It’s a proverb still valid thousands of years later! Don’t be the stereotypical ethnocentric “ugly American”, completely ignorant of local customs and culture.

    P.S. Since you don’t seem to know, when in Rome you don’t tip for your meals. Or your caffe’. Or your taxi. Kind of like Germany.

  59. There is a slight flaw in the argument raised by a few that the percentage shouldn’t go up due to inflation, b/c it’s built into the cost of the food on the menu. The problem is that, in the U.S., restaurants have been paying less and less as the base pay over the years, so the tip has become most of the compensation, whereas 30 years ago it was actually “the gravy.” The base pay for some servers has actually gone down as the cost of living has gone up. I have considered 20% the standard for standard service. If you disappoint me, it’s less; if you impress me, it’s more. BTW, these people are sharing with the bus boys, and sometimes the dishwashers too. They don’t pocket the whole tip if they want to stick around long.

  60. In response to the matter of the minimum tipped wage. Yes, it is $2.13/hour. But what people do not know is that there are three sets of minimum wages for tipped employees in the USA depending on which state you work in. Please see this chart and map last updated at the beginning of 2015: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

  61. Lucky,

    Can you let us know what you ultimately decided to do in the Maldives specifically? I went there last May and stayed at Gili Lankanfushi, which is not a US chain hotel. We were provided a personal butler. We tipped everyone generously – our usual servers, housekeeping, spa staff, and our personal butler. Would you agree with this? I don’t know if it makes a difference to follow Maldivian policy (I don’t know what that would dictate), or treat this hotel like a luxury resort where gratuity is expected.

    I’m curious to know your thoughts because I hope to return and be more prepared about what to tip.

  62. I like tipping friendly helpful people who are doing things for me. I even try to sneak tips to employees at all-inclusive resorts where tipping is “forbidden”. It makes them feel good and it makes me feel good

  63. I always tip when in Bali/ Indonesia because the service staff are all poor.
    One year in Bali my young daughter had a one hour private Balinese dance lesson. It was taught by a Balinese teenager. After the lesson I gave my daughter $2 to tip the instructor. The instructor was so pleasantly surprised and just lit up as if we had just given her a wonderful gift. It was such a joy for me to see how happy she was with the small tip we gave her. Now I understand that $2 was probably 2 days worth of wages for her or more, but I will tip anytime I can bring such joy to a person.

    Once in Jakarta I gave the cab driver a $2.50 tip ( in their local currency) and he was so thankful that to my amazement he started giving me blessings! He was so appreciative that he wished blessings for me and my family.

    When you are being served by poor people in third world countries who struggle to make ends meet, your tips are greatly appreciated. I happily tip everyone who does anything for me when I am in Indonesia – it costs nothing to me: 50 cents here, 75 cents there, a dollar here or 2-3 dollars there etc – all in their local currency of course. I know this sounds strange, but when I go on vacation to Indonesia/ Bali one of the things I look forward to is tipping people because of the happiness that I see that it gives them – something that I rarely see in the US because it is EXPECTED here.

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