Polls / February 23, 2011

Do you tip more at a restaurant for exceptional service?

Exceptional restaurant service is rewarded with a bigger tip by 73% of respondents to the latest eZonomics poll, while 19% of respondents do not tip more and 8% do not tip at all.

A mint with the bill can increase tips
Tipping is relatively common at restaurants in many countries – and now research shows that small changes in the behaviour of waiting staff can influence the amount diners give. Diners in the United States tend to tip more if their waiting staff introduce themselves by name, according to behavioural economics blog Farnham Street. The small act of leaving a mint with the bill at casual restaurants can also attract more tips, it says, “because customers got something free, so they want to repay their servers”. Smiling waiters and those who squat at the table when they first visit might also see a boost. Being aware of the habits might be helpful for diners – as well as waiting staff who want to boost tips.

Does fine dining mean big tips?
Tip size can also relate to the quality of restaurant. Behavioural economist Tim Harford addressed the issue when he wrote that diners could be expected to tip more in higher priced restaurants than in the local trattoria. He argued that the quality of service in a fine restaurant is likely to be higher and the number of customers fewer. The waiting staff could therefore expect a larger tip to compensate for the extra time they spend serving each diner.

A “tip” for travellers
There is no international tipping etiquette, so a good “tip” for travellers is to become familiar with the local customs and then tip accordingly. This is more than just good manners because tips often make up a significant part of the wage of the serving staff.


eZonomics team
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