As I was working a wedding last weekend, the Director of Catering at the “wedding in a box” venue (Mike) and I got into an interesting conversation about tipping. To give you some background, this venue is pretty exclusive, so you need to have a healthy budget ($400 pp+) to hold your wedding at Mike’s facility.
What surprised — no stunned — me is that he had only received $100 in gratuities from January through August this year. Since this oceanfront venue primarily hosts weddings, I thought for sure he would be making upwards of $10,000+ annually in tips alone.
Which circles me back to the heartbeat of this article: When is it appropriate to tip?
I started talking to a couple of my customers this week in preparation for this morsel, and everyone said the same thing, “I am not sure when to tip, who to tip and how much,”
The answer to this question is … OK, there isn’t one. It is called “go with your gut and don’t feel pressured into giving someone something that you don’t think deserves it.”
Here are some guidelines that I use when I have to make these difficult decisions:
- If you can, find out in advance the breakdown of the banqueting gratuity and who gets a portion of that money.
- Ask yourself: Who went above and beyond?
People shouldn’t get tipped for doing their job — that is what they get paid for. For example, if I have a catering or convention services manager who does something unexpected, such as answering e-mail after hours, taking a phone call when they are technically off-duty, or goes to bat for me with another department, those are things I am going to take into consideration when it is time to distribute gratuities.
Once I had a banqueting department filled with such outstanding staff that I took a portion of the money allotted for tips and bought everyone $15 gift cards to Blockbuster Video (obviously this was a while ago). With their gift cards, I included a note to “have a movie and a popcorn on us.” I explained to the manager that I wanted everyone to have a little something, and they were very pleased with that outcome because it was a very tight-knit department.
I do realize that in this economy, people don’t have the budgets to tip like they used to. If that is the case with your company, bring along some company swag. It isn’t as good as cash or an AMEX gift card, but any gift of thanks will give the receiver warm fuzzies.
And get creative with what you give away. Always remember: Something is better than nothing if the person is worthy of a special note of thanks.
My last piece of advise on tipping is — and this happens more than you think — don’t talk to your CSM about giving tips and then don’t. That isn’t fair to anyone.
That’s my “tip” on tipping, for now, and I am going to be sticking to it.