In the Trenches: Should We Have a Tipping Policy?

I can count on one hand the number of times a client has wanted to tip one of our concierges, yet it’s happened twice in the past week. We don’t have a formal tipping policy, and I’m wondering if I should consider implementing one.

Of course, we would never ask clients to tip — or even suggest that they might want to do so. Tipping isn’t customary in our line of work. Our concierges receive a set commission for assisting clients, so they know what they’ll get paid in advance. They don’t expect to receive tips, and — as I’ve noted — tips are very rarely offered.

The first time was a couple years ago, when a client was traveling from Europe to Hawaii. His initial flight was late, so he missed his connection. Our concierge worked a little magic to get him to his destination very quickly. The client was so grateful that he insisted on tipping the concierge.

The tipping issue didn’t come up again until this week, when two customers wanted to tip for very different reasons. The first client wanted to thank our award-travel architect, who worked incredibly hard to put together an itinerary using frequent flier miles. The client was so grateful our architect had been able to arrange the complex itinerary that she wanted to give him more money.

A couple days later, a concierge helped a second client who was illegally bumped from a flight without being compensated. The customer was so pleased that he wanted to give the concierge a bonus.

In both cases, I told the clients that they could send money by signing up for an additional service on our website. After all, our staff is rarely in the same place as our clientele, so people can’t just tip in cash. I told them we’d notice their online “purchases” and transfer the funds directly to the appropriate person.  This doesn’t get recorded as revenue but rather just as a pass-through to the concierge.

All this got me wondering whether I should put a formal policy in place. I don’t want to talk about tips on our website or blog, because I don’t want customers to feel like they have to pay gratuities. But if someone offers, should we have a more straightforward way of handling tips?

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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4 comments
Jim
Jim

What I would suggest is that if someone wants to tip, you allow them to do so, but you do not need a formal policy.  Once you have a formal policy, you are creating the impression that tips are expected.  If tips are not expected, why would there be a policy?

Alan in CBR
Alan in CBR

You are professionals and as such you are expected as part of your job to provide information and assistance which an ordinary person could not. Presumably you pay your staff in accordance with the required level of information they provide.

 

On the off chance that your staff provides assistance above and beyond what would normally be provided, that just means they are a superior professional compared witht the industry average. Presumably you can reward such professionalism with an annual bonus. Tipping is, in my opinion, completely inappropriate in this situation.

 

VW
VW

Commendations yes, tips no. Will we have to tip flight attendants and pilots for getting us some where on time or getting us past turbulence w/o crashing? Or perhaps lawyers and doctors for doing a good job and exceeding expectations?! If good work gets you more business, reward that person with higher pay or commissions. And yes, commendations.

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  1. [...] In the Trenches: Should We Have a Tipping Policy? – Intuit Small Business Blog Our concierges do great work, and lately, we’ve had a couple clients want to tip them. It’s not necessary, but I’m wondering if we need a formal policy. LGB – Long Beach none [...]