In the hospitality industry, we expect to receive a certain level of service due to the very nature of our business — many times it’s contractual obligation. There are times, though, that associates go above and beyond the call of duty, and we want to acknowledge their efforts with a monetary gift, or tip. But before exploring any further, it’s good to clairfy that “gratuity” and “tip” do not have the same definition in the meetings industry. Gratuities are mandatory and are added to a bill, whereas tips are voluntary, like in a restaurant. Tips can be given over and above the gratuity, for exemplary service.
The most common tip recipients are the convention services managers and other key service staff. It is not common to tip the front desk staff or sales people despite their critical roles in the overall success of convention. Planners who engage the services of concierges, business centers, golf tournament coordinators, transportation departments or other individuals for assistance often tip them. When in doubt, ask the general manager as to the best means of tipping for outstanding service.
Budget for tipping
Some planners select a percentage of their total meeting spend. Some determine a flat amount per conference attendee — depending on the level of service, you can go over or under the common $5 per attendee. Some planners consider the cost of one registration as the total tip budget. As you can see, there is a lot of variation.
Some organizations don’t allow tipping or simply don’t have the budget. Here are some creative alternatives:
- Create a Service Excellence Award that can be given to the associate at a future staff meeting.
- Offer small gifts of appreciation. (Research company monetary limits on the giving of gifts, however, before you make any purchases.)
- Send a formal letter of thanks signed by the CEO of your company.
- Deliver a personal handwritten thank you note.
One element remains the same regardless of all the options — service people are a crucial part of our industry and play a tremendous role in the success of all meetings and events. Moreover, we tip not because we have to, but because we choose to recognize and reward excellence.
Dallas Teague Snider is an independent planner with Conference Direct and founder of Lead Referrals, in Birmingham, Ala. She has been certified as a protocol and etiquette consultant by the Protocol School in Washington, D.C. Contact her at email@example.com.