Tipping. Do You Have To?

On a recent vacation in Central America we returned to our hotel just as a large group was checking in. I overheard a woman loudly proclaim, “I don’t tip anyone. They get paid for what they do.”

Wince. The ugly tourist strikes again.

I regularly present Business and Dining Etiquette workshops to newcomers to Canada. When talking about dining in a restaurant I always mention tipping. Someone in the group usually asks if they really have to tip. Of course there isn’t a law regarding tipping, but after I explain the reasons, I ask if any of their children are planning on part-time restaurant jobs during the summer. Once people, or their children, have been in the service industry they understand how tipping truly works.

This is not a blog post on who and how much to tip. That information is readily available. It is simply a statement that tipping is part of our culture and becoming part of many cultures.

  • In the service industry tips are assumed as part of earnings and salaries reflect this fact. The low hourly wage might shock some, especially tourists to other countries.

  • Tips are frequently shared among staff. Snubbing a slow waiter likely means depriving several others of anticipated income.

  • When travelling or dining out, be prepared to tip. Budget for it.

To the loud tourist in Central America, the tip you denied the porter was a fraction of the cost of your fancy umbrella drink. A small gesture on your part could make a significant difference in the life of someone else.

How to avoid being the ugly tourist?

  • Be aware. Know who and how much to tip before travelling.

  • Be prepared. Have small bills in your wallet ready to give.

  • Be sensitive. Give sincerely and discretely without being patronizing.

  • Be generous. Yes, you really do have much more than most of the world.

    bills ready to give

    bills ready to give

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About etiquetteottawa

Founder and Owner of the Protocol School Of Ottawa
This entry was posted in Commentary, Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tipping. Do You Have To?

  1. karenhickman says:

    Wonderful advice and points well made, Suzanne. I agree.

  2. Thank you Karen. I’m sure we’ve all winced when overhearing the insensitive tourist.

  3. oarubio says:

    You are correct! Tipping is like donations to charity — it is to be budgeted and just as important as our own food and shelter. — Tony

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