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How Much To Tip The Concierge

August 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM | by | Comment (1)

He's known as @ConciergeCorner on Twitter who's not afraid to dish on all the crazy things that guests ask concierges. But he also might be the concierge fielding your requests during your next hotel stay and he's got a few tips on how to get the most out of your concierge contact. This week, here are his thoughts on How Much To Tip the Concierge. (And no, that's neither @ConciergeCorner or his hotel in the photo above.)

To tip, or not to tip: an age old question in the hospitality industry.  In an industry where at times over 50% of one’s pay is derived from gratuities, tipping is always appreciated. That said, my HR department pays each (hourly) position differently depending on what they feel we likely receive in gratuities.  Sadly, their gratuity estimates are quite high and unrealistic.  

Yelp ain't got nothing on us.

In the past, boarding passes, dinner reservations and transportation arrangements would be some of the most common concierge requests, but the emergence of sites like Trip Advisor, OpenTable and Yelp has changed this.  Today, many guests will skip the concierge, opting instead to utilize websites.  There are still some who will utilize our services, especially in the luxury segment.  You can imitate the human touch, but you can't duplicate it.  When it comes to a last minute dinner reservation at a popular restaurant or a sold out performance, I'm far more likely to be able to secure them for a guest than a website is.  Given that this is something that only I, the concierge, may be able to accomplish; common gratuity is $5 or $10. For me at, I'd say the most common gratuity left is $5.  

Different folks, different tips.

In my luxury property, we have guests from all walks of life (depending on the day and the season) and some have never had such a top drawer experience and may not be accustomed to tipping.  Additionally, many international guests may be unfamiliar with U.S. customs and are less likely to tip me for any task, whether it is difficult, time consuming or otherwise.  

Should the request match the tip?

In my years at the desk, I've received as little as nothing (most of the time) and as much as $200 (twice).  While some may think the more challenging the request, the greater the gratuity left, that is not always the case.  I carry out each task with the expectation that I will receive nothing, so I am that much more pleased when that extra appreciative guest comes along.  I always do what I can to go the extra mile, pull strings and make the guest feel both valued and important.    

Going the extra mile.

Calling ahead, or at times, on the day of arrival, and having me plan out your entire stay takes a lot of time and effort and most concierges would likely expect $20 or so.  Similarly, although the hotel does not employ a personal shopper per se, it is the often the job of the concierge to fill that role when needed.  Whether the item requested is a simple clothing item, a sold-out game system or a doll, knowing the right people in retail can separate one concierge from the rest.  This at times may mean me laying out my own money (or credit) on behalf of the guest and as such, the guest is that much more inclined to tip accordingly.  In my experience, securing iPads or iPhones when availability is scarce will often yield a gratuity between $20 and $50.   

When not to tip?

Giving directions to a nearby retail store or restaurant, printing directions or in some case reservations and other area recommendations, I, like many concierges in my segment, would likely not expect a gratuity.  Simple tasks are just that: simple, and as far as I'm concerned, do not warrant a tip.  

Don't tip like Macaulay Culkin.

Also, when I say “tipping” I mean currency: cold, hard cash.  The kind of thing that people use to pay bills and buy lunch. All will recall child actor Macaulay Culkin gifting Rob Schneider’s Plaza Hotel bellman character with a stick of gum in the 90s film Home Alone.  I never have my hand out, nor should anyone in my position, but items like BIC pens, gum or mints are better kept to yourself rather than being offered as a gratuity.  This goes for all in the hospitality industry: bellmen, doormen, servers, etc.  If you can't afford it, don't do it.  #JustSayin

Concierges and guests alike, have your own Tips On Tips to add? Do so in the comments below!

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They do NOT go the extra mile

Bellmen do.  Doormen do.  Butlers do.  I've worked in luxury resorts for over a decade and I have never seen a concierge run off property for anything beyond an open bar.  They will take your request, pocket your cash, and immediately phone a competent, able-bodied employee to complete the task...either free of charge or with a running fee tacked onto your bill.  Bet they didn't tell you about that while glad-handing you rubes out of the lobby, did they?

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