Tips for Tipping

By Jill Bremer, AICI CIP

Tipping has been around for hundreds of years. A tip, or gratuity, is defined as a gift of money given to someone for performing a service or menial task, over and above the payment due for the service. Tips are not required, but they are expected by many people in the service industry. In fact, many U.S. waiters and waitresses are paid less than minimum wage as tips are expected to make up the other part of their income. The amounts and percentages suggested below should be used as a general guideline only. If service is poor, give a smaller tip or none at all. If service is superior, feel free to be more generous with your gratuity.

In fine-dining establishments, there are a number of people to tip. Servers expect 15%-20% of the pre-tax amount of the bill. A group of six or more often receives a bill that has the gratuity already incorporated. If a number of bottles of wine are ordered during the course of the meal, the prevailing belief is that the wine costs should not be figured into the final tip. Of course, if a wine steward was involved in the selection and serving, he or she should be tipped 15% of the wine bill. A maitre d’ should be taken care of, too, as that person can help to make your dining experience a favorable one. A twenty-dollar tip is a good place to start and will help to establish a relationship between the two of you. This can work in your favor when the time comes to entertain the important people in your life and career. Bartenders should receive 15% of the bar bill, give the coat room attendant $1.00 per coat, and pass along $1.00 to the valet parker.

Tips also need to be bestowed upon certain people in the transportation industry. If you check your luggage curbside at the airport, tip your skycap a minimum of $1.00 per bag. Airport wheelchair pushers appreciate a few dollars for their efforts. Taxi drivers should be tipped 15% of the fare. Many cities around the world have established a rider’s bill of rights, which tells riders they have the right to enjoy, for example, air conditioning on command, a radio-free ride, smoke-free air, and a clean seat. Riders are encouraged not to tip if the rights are not complied with.

Hairstylists at beauty salons and barbershops should be tipped 15% of the bill; those who shampoo your hair get $1.00 to $2.00. If more than one person provides services, for example one doing color and another cutting your hair, tip each person 10%-15% of their portion of the bill. Manicurists should receive no less than $1.00 or 15% of the bill.

At hotels, give the bellhop $5.00 to $10.00 for bringing your luggage to your room. If you order room service, tips are usually included in the tab and range from 15% to18% of the bill. Chambermaids appreciate $2.00 to $5.00 each day for taking care of your room. Give the doorman at least $1.00 for helping to call a taxi, in inclement weather, give a little more. No tip is necessary for the concierge who takes care of an simple task, such as dinner reservations or a shuttle bus booking. For more complicated services, $10 to $20 is appropriate.

For a look at tipping in other countries around the world, I have invited fellow members of the Association of Image Consultants International to offer their insights.


In many Asian countries, tipping is very much a way of life for service. Socially, one can elevate one’s status by extending a tip. The bigger the tip, the better the personal attention and service which can, of course, impress others. For example, at Chinese dinners, the host tips the headwaiter often before the meal to ensure excellent service. This is still practiced to some extent. However, with the erosion of traditional customs and practices in modern day Singapore, tipping is generally not encouraged by the Singapore government. There are probably several reasons for this. To woo visitors and boost tourism revenue, the government has worked hard to implement measures that make Singapore a safe destination where visitors will find modern facilities, better service, technology-aided efficiency, cleanliness and no confusion for foreigners.

Taxicabs run by meter with receipts issued upon request and tips are not required to taxi drivers. However, tipping is still done at beauty salons where a tip of S$2.00-$4.00 (S$1 = approx. US$1.7) is appropriate for the shampoo person and manicurist. It is handed directly to one’s favourite service staff and this also ensures that the same service staff attends to that particular customer in the future. At some salons, there is a general tip box at the pay counter. Hair stylists who are owners of the salon are seldom tipped. S$2.00 is the amount of tip that applies to hotel service staff, although guests are often notified of a “No tipping required” policy. At restaurants, valet parkers are tipped well, from S$2-S$5. Perhaps this is because valet parking services are most often used by well-heeled individuals who arrive in plush, and often exotic, cars – especially at hotels. Proper dining restaurants levy a 10% service charge and tipping is therefore not required. However, it is often practiced by hosts who are entertaining special guests, in which case an additional 10% of the bill amount is given as a tip to the headwaiter who is supposed to share the tip with the other service staff.

Christina Ong, AICI, CIP
Email: [email protected]


I do not feel that Germans are especially generous tippers. In restaurants, the common tip is 10 % of the total bill. The waiters and waitresses, however, receive a monthly salary that is considerably higher than the U.S. minimum wage. The tips they get from the guests they, of course, keep. If the restaurant bill is of a very high amount (caused, for example, by very expensive wines), the tip is usually no more than 5%-6 %. Taxi drivers usually get about 10 % of the fare shown by the meter. At German airports, there are no skycaps. The airport is full of baggage carts that are free of charge and can be taken everywhere within the airport and to the parking areas. At hotels, if you were happy with the service, it is common to leave a tip for the maid in the room when you leave. Also, you pay about 2-3 Euros for help with the luggage each time and the same amount for the doorman. You also tip the people who have been of special assistance to you. At the hairdresser, you give a 1-2 Euro tip to the person cutting your hair and 1 Euro to the person washing your hair. The owner never gets a tip. It is also customary to tip the delivery people when bigger deliveries are made to your home. At Christmas time it is common to give a tip to the mailman and to the newspaper deliveryman.

Wenche Schneider, AICI, CIP
Authentic Image
E-mail: [email protected]


Tipping in Brazil is flexible. There are no set guidelines and the amount, if or when is given, is entirely at a person’s discretion. At hotels, a 10% to 15% service charge is included in the bill.

  • Porters: R$2,00 to R$5,00 not per bag, but per trip to room at luxury hotels.
  • Chambermaids: Not regularly tipped; however, about R$1,00 to R$2,00 tip per day may be given at luxury hotels.
  • Valet: About R$2,00.
  • Room Service: About R$2,00 if not included in the bill.
  • Restaurants: A 10% service charge is included in the bill. In bars and cafes, 10% tipping is also normal if the service charge has not been already added.
  • Taxis: No tipping is expected; drivers might be permitted to keep some change. Frequently, hotels will negotiate the fare in advance with the driver and pass the amount on to the guest as a flat rate (tip included).
  • Barbers & Beauticians: A 10% to 15% tip goes to the main person attending you. Do not tip the owner of the establishment. R$1,00 to R$2,00 may be given to any other attendees.

Ana Silva
E-mail: [email protected]


In Switzerland a 15% service charge is already included in all hotel and restaurant bills, also in taxi bills. Although tipping has officially been abolished, many people, if they enjoyed the good service (and especially when they intend to become a regular customer!), tend to give up to 10% tipping extra. Tipping is still appropriate for railway and hotel porters (SFR 2), wash- and cloakroom attendants (SFR 1), and petrol station attendants (who clean your car’s windshields). Also, in hair and beauty salons a service charge is included, but one often gives extra tipping (but seldom to the owner of the salon). Feel free to express with your tipping how you felt about the service you got – and know that, unlike in the USA, people do not expect you to tip and will never ask you for a tip – but they will thank you with a smile (all the above mentioned jobs are paid rather poorly).

Anita Altherr, AICI, CIP
Coaching + Image Management

© 2004 Jill Bremer All Rights Reserved