TRAVEL and the ART of Tipping

Traveling is stressful enough in today’s world without enduring delays, crowds, lines, security check points, etc… So, why add to it? One of the easiest things you can do is to prepare in ADVANCE by making reservations for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc… DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! In today’s world there is a ton of competition for your business as well as many discount business available to you.

Remember one thing though, many times you get what you pay for, so don’t be bashful when making reservations. Ask for names and confirmation numbers. TAKE NOTES! If you have a problem don’t accept a NO answer from a clerk who doesn’t have the authority to give you the YES answer to begin with. Ask for a supervisor. But do this in a pleasant and business like manner. Always be polite! I have a nephew who recently purchased first class airline tickets for his family of four. He purchased the tickets online with a credit card. When they were checking in at the airport he was informed that they had sold 3 of his First class tickets and that 3 of his party would be in coach. Besides himself, it was his wife, a toddler and a nursing baby. They had purchased the first class tickets to allow for the extra space and ease of traveling with the children. He was informed by the counter clerk that an online ticket is NOT guaranteed even when paid for immediately by credit card and in advance. Long story short, he asked for her supervisor and escalated the issue to the appropriate level. He did NOT fly off the handle (I’m so proud of you Ryan), but dealt with the issue in a business like and professional manner all the while being polite to the employees. He told me he was trying to set a good example for the toddler too which is sooooo important to remember. How many times have we all seen that person making a scene? Do they get their way? Probably NOT!

So remember to make your travel plans in advance, take notes, names and confirmation numbers. If you have ANY doubts, call and confirm a day or so before the travel date.

Tipping is a very social custom in our society and it is an expression of gratitude for a service provided. This includes bars & restaurants, salons, taxis, delivery personnel, skycaps, doormen, bellboys, hotel maids, valets and any other situation where your gut tells you you should be tipping. Tipping on cruises is a requirement on most cruise lines. The amount you tip will vary depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise. Cruise lines usually publish a suggested guideline for tipping. If you are new to cruising please be aware that tipping helps the service personnel make a decent wage. Their overall wage is usually a small stipend only. Many times gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account. Check with the individual cruiseline to locate their policies.

I worked in the fine dining industry for a number of years and can attest that tipping is truly based on service. It is definitely NOT okay NOT to leave a tip. It is okay to leave a tip compensatory with the level of service. Remember also though that you need to communicate if there is a problem. Slighting your server of a decent tip because there was a problem with the food that the cook prepared is NOT okay. Give your server the opportunity to correct any problem. Tipping in a restaurant depends on several things: the quality of the restaurant (fine dining usually receives a higher amount 20-25% whereas casual dining is 10-15%), the amount of the bill (base your tip on the pre-tax amount), and the quality of service. Remember that your server will be required to report a minimum of 8% to the government on your check so if you stiff them you are basically taking the money right out of their pocket for your meal. Now that is not to say that you MUST tip the full amount for poor service. There are two tips that truly make an impression on servers; the large tip with a penny on top and the tip that is just a penny. The large tip with a penny on top means EXCELLENT service whereas just a penny means that you were NOT satisfied with the server. Remember though it is your responsibility to convey your dissatisfaction and give them the opportunity to make you happy before you do that.

So the thought/question I leave you with for today is, Do you prepare in advance for traveling? Do you communicate well when there is a problem? What can you do to make your travel and tipping easier for you?