Whatever happened to optional tipping?
According to industry reports, it's not just restaurants, hotels, and cruise ships who are adding mandatory gratuities to your bill. Other businesses such as airport skycabs and caterers are starting to attach automatic tips to every transaction. Add mandatory tipping to service fees and you can see why this new strategy is so attractive--PriceWaterhouseCooper estimates that the hotel industry alone will collect $1.6 billion in fees and gratuities from guests this year.
There's a growing discontent from customers who feel that tipping is a very personal practice. Of course, you can argue that automatic gratuities protect servers from cheap and ungrateful customers. But my experience as a busboy/waiter/bartender proves that by giving every customer the same excellent service, my disappointment from getting stiffed by the occasional stiff was more than compensated by the tables who left jawdropping tips (and recommended me and the place I was working to all their friends!)
Taking the power of tipping away may also start diminishing the overall quality of service. What's the point of trying harder if I'm going to get the same gratuity at the end of the day? (This is part of the "Sure Thing Theory" that I discuss in my seminar, The Urban Legends of Leadership -- go to MARKtalks.com for more information.)
Too many people have an unhealthy sense of entitlement when it comes to performance and compensation, expecting something whether or not it's deserved. On the other hand, there are employers out there who don't let their staff know what level of excellence is demanded and figure that service fees and mandatory gratuities cover any shortcomings.
There's only one way as a business leader "to insure prompt service," as the tipping acronym goes, from your employees. Give generously for generous work. Show your strong and consistent appreciation and you will be repaid with excellence and loyalty.