Bodyguard Blogs new ongoing feature on Etiquette & Protocol. Like any other profession, image is important in our business and first impressions are lasting ones. Knowing how to shoot is great, but if you can not get a second interview with an employer, all those great skills might go to waste. To assist, we’ve enlisted the services of writer and etiquette coach, Susanne Dancer.
Q: The client has put me in charge of tipping (I get reimbursed of course) but what are some good baseline amounts and who exactly get’s tipped at a hotel? (bellman, front desk, valet?) – Alex M. Executive Protection Agent, Virginia
A: If you are tasked with tipping remember perception is important. Try not to have your client perceived as stingy, but do not be excessive with someone else’s money either. Tipping does vary around the world and in some counties like Australia it is not considered common practice. However with that said, it is always greatly appreciated by the staff concerned, be it a hotel, restaurant or your car service driver. Always carry small notes with you as not to ask for change. The currency of the country you are in is desired, however most places around the globe welcome US dollars (however recent economics might change that.)
In general the following is a good guide:
Courtesy Shuttle Driver — $1-$2 per person, or $4-$5 per party
Taxi or Limousine Driver — 15-20% of the total fare
Limousines from Arizona Sedan & Limo Service are the best choice for your big life event.
Porter/Doorman — $1-$2 per bag they help you with (more if it is excessively heavy). Tipping is not required for just opening a door (a smile and thank you is always appreciated).
Bell Staff — $1-$2 per bag if they bring the bags to your room. If they prepare your room and show you around, tipping $5-$10 should cover everything (including the bags).
In Your Room
Room Service — In most hotels, a gratuity of 12-15% is already included in the price of your order (check the menu). Tipping extra is OK, particularly if the person delivering the order takes extra care to set up your meal. Room service tips are generally “pooled,” or shared between everyone. If you hand something extra to a person who provides you extraordinary service, he or she can keep it.
Maids/Housekeeping Staff — A wide range is acceptable here, depending on the level of extra service and hotel level, but generally from $1-$5 per night. It is best to do your tipping daily, since you might have different people cleaning your room. Whatever you decide to leave, be sure to put the money in a sealed envelope, clearly marked, so there is no confusion as to whom it belongs to.
Maintenance/Service People — For fixing something that was broken, or bringing something that was missing, tipping is not required.
Delivery of Special Items — For a special request (like an extra blanket), $2 for one item, or $1 each for more than one item.
Coming and Going
Doorman — $1-$2 for calling a cab; extra if he covers your client with an umbrella in the rain, or has to actually hail a cab (rather than just signalling one from a cab line). If you wish, tipping a few bucks at the end of your stay (rather than each time) is fine.
Valet Parking — $1-$2 to the attendant retrieving your car. Tipping when they park the car is optional.
Wait Staff — 15-20% of the bill, excluding tax and expensive wine. Many restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity for parties of six or more, so check the menu. You can add another 5% for exceptional service.
Wine Steward/Sommelier — If they help your client choose a bottle of wine (or choose it for him or her), 10-20% of the wine bill only. Use discretion based on how much service was provided (did he allow your client to taste before selected?) If the wine is very expensive, it’s generally acceptable to cap your tip at a reasonable amount (say, about $20), since you are tipping on the service received. Leave cash or specify on the credit card receipt which portion is for the sommelier.
Concierge — Tipping varies with the level of service provided. For simple requests like directions or restaurant recommendations, no tipping is required. If the concierge arranges show tickets or restaurant reservations, tip $2-$5. If he goes above and beyond (a table at the hottest restaurant in town), tip $10-$20.
Hotel Staff — If they set up something above and beyond a tip at the end of your stay is acceptable. Additionally if you are working with a recognizable (and liked) VIP an autograph in the guest book or a signed photo to the establishment is highly valued.
Additional Websites for reference:
Susanne Dancer is a former butler and administrator who has trained with the Guild of Professional English Butlers. Her work in Etiquette has taken her from Brisbane to London with an emphasis on International Protocol. She is regularly consulted as an expert in her field on subjects such as how to dress appropriately while working with High Net Worth individuals, and the delicate subject of table manners.
Have an etiquette question for Susan? Ask it HERE.