When you’re making your travel plans, there are plenty of things to think about without worrying about how much you’re going to tip when you get to different countries. So you may not worry about this – and may think tipping is tipping; add on your 10% in the restaurant, give the hotel porter a couple of Euros, dollars or pounds and you’re in the clear, right?
Well, no – it’s not that simple. Different countries tip different amounts (or not at all) for many different reasons, so it’s important to understand the country’s etiquette.
For example, in Japan, tipping is not the custom at all and may even be construed as an insult, whilst in the USA a 10% tip after a good meal may well be regarded as rather measly. In short, it’s a minefield.
But why do people tip in the first place – and what factors induce them to tip larger or lesser amounts?
In the UK, a recent survey from Voucherbox revealed that people are usually winning to pay a gratuity for what they see as good service. “Fair enough” you may be thinking. But what’s really interesting is that we tend to tip more if we find the person providing the service attractive – and vice versa. What’s more, we’ll tend to tip more in return for a nice smile, with 23% of respondents deeming this deserving of additional cash. A flirty disposition from the waiting staff also helps generate greater gratuities: 16% say they tend to pay more when they’re being flirted with, whilst “nice eyes” mean 11% of respondents will dig a little deeper in their pockets.
On the flipside, 30% of respondents reckoned they would give no tip at all if their server appeared scruffy, whilst body odour is a real turn-off – with 40% saying they wouldn’t tip at all if they detected it. Clearly, then, we diners are a fairly shallow bunch. After all, the scruffy swearing individual with no time to smile may simply be working harder – and the poor dolt is getting no tips!
But what does all this mean for world travellers? Well, if you’re planning to work whilst travelling around the globe, then the chances are you may be in a service industry working for tips – in which case the big tip is to remember to be smart, shampoo your hair, smile and be flirtatious.
But if you have no such plans and are simply a holiday-maker – then it’s best to do your tipping research before you go. As previously stated, tipping in Japan is out and would simply cause confusion, whilst in the States, anything below 15% is a no-no. In France, on the other hand, 15% will already have been added to your bill by law, but you may still decide to give a little more for exceptional service – and this is considered the norm in Paris. In China, meanwhile, tipping is generally not the norm, though tour guides and drivers are usually lowly paid and are often dependent on their tips for income, so this is the exception.
In short, check out the country’s custom before you go to make sure you’re doing the right thing and not insulting or forgetting anyone. And if you plan to work, remember that winning smile!