Leaving a Good Tip Is Not What It Used To Be

Do you consider yourself a “good tipper?” When you’ve been served a nice meal, and your server was polite and attentive, what percentage did you leave?

To ensure that the wait staff are given their reasonable due for services rendered, many restaurants have started to post suggested tip percentages at the bottom of the bill. This keeps people who are not math geniuses from getting out their phones to do the calculations. The percentages are generally shown as 10-15 and 20% respectively. However, some establishments are deciding to use a new digital payment option, which displays tipping percentages of 25-50 and 75%. This is a “game changer.”

The New York Times did an article on just this subject, and I was stunned at this growing trend. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/business/dollar3-tip-on-a-dollar4-cup-of-coffee-gratuities-grow-automatically.html?  I have eaten at incredible restaurants. I appreciate great meals, and the service that is a part of that experience,  but I do not recall having ever  left a tip of that magnitude, and wonder what it would take for me to do so?

As we move into this new era of generous tipping, each diner will need to consider how much the service is truly worth. Are you tipping for the quality of the service, or are you helping to fund the wage gap that exist in the service industry? It will be interesting to see the customer’s response to this issue.Will customers feel okay at plopping down 25%, but resist tipping at the upper ranges? Is this an indication of a creep that we should expect? If so, in the next five years, how much is that final bill actually going to cost ?

I think that we have to separate the issue of paying for the wage gap, and paying for quality service. As customers, if we are doing the latter, then it is incumbent upon the establishment to provide: 1) the environment and atmosphere 2) a creative menu 3) excellently prepared food4) highly trained staff, and last 5) personalized service to incite the customer to want to pay more. It is in this area that I believe is the “sweet spot” for most restaurants. Do something different. Make the experience extraordinary, and memorable. Find a way to do that each time a person comes, and people will be willing to tip more.

Over the next few years, this will continue to be an interesting story to watch and on which to report. I will bring you updates on how this trend evolves and its impact on the traveler.  Stayed tuned.

This is the first in a series, Tuesday Travel Trends. Look for the next trend posting each Tuesday.

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