Say What? Now Hotel Booking Websites Want Tips Too

Tipping is a practice that has always been a little suspect. Why is an employee’s wage dependent on the largesse of the customer? And is it really a bribe? But now things have gotten completely out of control.

Airport self-checkout kiosks demand tips. I’ve even had one that wouldn’t allow opting out.

In fact, websites now solicit tips. You never even deal with a human. You book a hotel, and boom – please add on to the charges!

I covered this phenomenon at the beginning of the year.

Poorly reviewed, whose parent company went public in a SPAC deal, asks customers to tip their computers. And that’s on top of charging $4.99 extra if you want telephone customer service. If you tip for your booking you’re still not entitled to human service, so much for a tip being ‘to insure prompt service.”

Tipping, it seems, is no longer just for personal services someone provides – like a waiter in a restaurant, or a stylist in a salon. You’re asked to tip when you bus your own tray after waiting in line for food at a restaurant. You’re asked to tip when picking up food for carry out. And the amount you’re asked for has grown, from 15% to 20% and now sometimes 25%.

Surely there has to be a line. How much will we stand for? Isn’t a reasonable principle that tipping ought to be reserved for service provided by people and not machines?

(HT: @saianeil)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @LennyD – excellent advice. It will cost the vendor more to process the 5 cents than the 5 cents is worth. Maybe they’ll get the message?

  2. Gary, at this rate how long before you add a ‘tipping’ button to this blog 🙂
    If you can’t beat them, join them

  3. @tom

    He won’t need to fo that with the multiple pop-ups here.

    Some days, can barely see the story

  4. Only marginally off topic, but a vendor at my local farmer’s market had a tip jar last saturday.

  5. JUST DON’T TIP. EVER, except at U.S. and Canada restaurants and bars, and certain baggage handlers, which are the only officially-recognized “tipped” occupations globally.

    Generous tipping practices have fueled ‘tipflation,’ and companies are progressively making tippers pay their ordinary costs, especially labor, which as a result is increasingly underpaid.

    When people regularly tip large amounts, it can inadvertently set new, higher expectations for revenues through tips. While the intent behind generous tipping is often to reward good service, in real life it contributes to lower wages for workers and ‘tipflation’.

    SET A GOOD EXAMPLE: DON’T TIP (outside of U.S. and Canadian restaurants and bars and certain baggage handlers). Period. The one and only reason why this company spent money to develop this software is because some idiot does tip; if nobody did, they would have never invested in this feature.

  6. My sister is a chef. She said the reason you should tip for take-out is because those tips go to the kitchen staff, and they do the same work whether it’s a dine-in or take-out meal.

    Other than that, I agree with Jake. Tipping is just a scam to get us to pay the workers so the business can increase its profits.

  7. What a great way to lose customers! When businesses start this nonsense a quick and permanent “Goodbye” is in order.

  8. Just took a cruise across the Atlantic via the Queen Mary II. Tips were automatically added to any liquor tab. Also, buried in the details, a general tip was added to the price of the cruise.
    The only cash tip we left was for our room attendant who kept the cabin spotless for two messy travelers.

  9. Just completed a cruise on the Hurtigruten Richard With. Two weeks. Made 34 stops from Bergen to Kirkenes. We were told on boarding that no one will ask you for a tip, nor is one expected. So relaxed. So perfect. Entire crew works for the entire cruise. Then they get off with two weeks vacation. Then get back on.

    Meanwhile in U.S, service providers would starve without tips. Waiters also cleaned rooms as well. They get vacations, full pay, all medical care and retirement. And no grumbling to the vacationers like in U.S.

    One other thing, no customers had any angst over tipping or not. Why do you put up with this B.S. In the States?

  10. Ordered Thanksgiving Honey Baked Ham online from local and very popular shop (ok its technically a restaurant in WLH but with no table service) that has a loyal following. I was quite surprised that the shop included a 20% TIP (which you could remove or increase) for some meat, as good as it is, that I was driving over and picking up. It’s reached the wrong side of the tipping point . . . it’s everywhere. Perhaps passengers should start tipping the pilots (I never got one.)

  11. Back in the 1990’s when I was a line-cook at a five star name-brand San Francisco hotel, the owner of the property once per year, tipped $10 to each of the cooks personally to thank us. The property owner back then was Japanese. Other than that, I have never received a tip as a line-cook, even at Michelin level restaurants I worked at.

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