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 a contractual obligation. Sometimes, though, 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 clarify that “gratuity” and “tip” do not have the exact definition in the meetings industry. Gratuities are mandatory and are added to a bill, whereas tips are voluntary, like in a restaurant. Prizes can be given over and above the compensation for exemplary service.
The convention services managers and other essential service staff are the most common tip recipients. It is rare to tip the front desk staff or salespeople despite their critical roles in the overall success of the 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 for the best means of tipping for outstanding service.
Budget for tipping
Some planners select a percentage of their total meeting to spend. Some determine a flat amount per conference attendee — depending on the level of service, you can go over or under the standard $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 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 giving 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.