I’ve often said, “I don’t believe in tipping, I believe in OVER tipping”. For example, when room # xyz needs something, and it is well known at the hotel that this is a good tipper, they’re motivated to provide excellent service. Aside from the obvious financial benefits (to the recipient) for tipping, it benefits everyone when good service is rewarded and bad service is proportionately tipped. For consumers, tipping is a way to give instant service performance feedback. Tipping empowers consumers to encourage good service and discourage bad service.
Tipping for services rendered is an optional act that should not be optional, with the exception of the amount. Most service professionals work for a small hourly wage and make their living largely through the tips they receive. As previously stated, it is a voluntary practice and often subject to individual interpretation. Tipping is a social custom and not legally required, although failure to give a large enough tip is frowned upon. There’s a fine line between enough and not enough when it comes to tipping. While 15% was considered to be an industry standard for many years, the cost of living increases have increased the customary tip to 20% of the total bill.
Tipping is generally considered a standard practice in restaurants, bars, hair salons and other businesses where a service is provided. But how did the practice of tipping get started? It is generally believed that the word “tip” began to be commonly used in England during the 18th century, while the earliest evidence of what today would be considered a tip happened in Germany in 1509. At that time, the word for tip – trinkgeld – roughly translated to “drink money.” That anecdote makes sense when applied to the general history of tipping. For example, tipping a server in a restaurant could have evolved from the idea that the server should enjoy a drink at the customer’s expense.
Tipping can be controversial in some countries, confusing for foreign travelers and a source of debate between people dining together. Tipping is largely an etiquette challenge for travelers. After all, 20% may be considered standard in the United States, but what if you’ve just enjoyed a wonderful meal with superior service in France or taken a taxi ride in Japan? Tipping, or the lack thereof, can be an uncomfortable situation, especially if you get it wrong.
In Mexico, tipping makes up a very significant part of a server’s salary and generally a 20% tip on your bill is considered customary. In some countries, such as France and Brazil, a tip is already included in the bill. In Brazil, that tip is 10%, in France it is 15%. Also in France, that 15% is just considered a start on the tip, if you’ve received good service, it is customary to leave an additional 10% on top of that. This is a custom, as we’ve discussed, that can be very confusing to travelers. When in doubt, ask your hotel’s concierge or a friendly local you encounter on your travels, they will be happy to tell you what the tipping custom in their country is.