Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Guide to Tipping
Finding out about and using the customs of the place that you are vacationing is one of the best ways to really relax into your holiday and not feel like a tourist. Yet the custom of tipping is one that often causes the most friction between holidaymakers and residents in Florida, especially if the holidaymakers are European.
Very often part of the joy of vacationing in Florida for European visitors is the excellent level of service given in restaurants and hotels by the staff. These same staff, however, are often paid a very low wage – so what motivates them? You guessed it, the tip.
Now it could be argued that the cost of providing wait staff should be accounted for in the meal price, however this is not what happens so we have to deal with the situation as it is. So if we are to master the art of tipping how is it done?
Tipping should be a recognition of the service that you have received, therefore if you are pleased with the service then you may wish to give a more generous tip; if you are dissatisfied with the service then a small tip may well get the message across. If you have received unsatisfactory service it may also be best to discuss this with any manager, just leaving no or a minimal tip without any explanation may just result in gaining holidaymakers a poor reputation, rather than remedying the situation.
There are many ways to tip, but often it is done with a certain level of discretion: a folded bill pressed from your hand into a doorman or a maitre d’s’; a couple of notes placed onto a cocktail waitress’s tray. Another point to remember is that it is a lot more common in America to use the gratuity section of a credit card payment slip for the tip than in European countries. Often in Europe there is a concern that if you put a tip onto the credit card payment it will not be passed onto the staff. In Florida to pay by a credit card and not include a gratuity may actually provoke the server to come back and point out that service is not included in the meal price (I know from experience). Equally don’t be surprised if you hand over a tip with a certain level of style, subtlety and elegance only to see the employee rather ungracefully examine the bill as they walk away from you to check the level of tip.
So you have decided that you are going to accept the cultural differences and be fully involved in tipping like a local, but where and how much? Here is a quick guide, but there are no hard and fast rules:
Waiters: 10-20% of the meal total (ranging from a poor tip to a generous tip). Check the menu and the bill that an automatic gratuity hasn’t been added, especially for meals as part of a dining package or meals for larger groups.
Bartender/Cocktail Waitress: 10-15% of a drinks round total or $1– 2 per drink.
Parking Valet: $1-2.
Bell hop: $1 per bag, maybe a little extra for very large bags.
Parking Valet: $1-2.
Room Cleaners: $1-2 per day at end of stay
Taxi Drivers: $1-5 dependant on journey length and perhaps speed of journey
Tour Guides: $1-2
Food Deliveries: $1-3 dependant on journey distance and swiftness.
Final couple of suggestions:
The above list is by no means exhaustive, for example if you feel that someone in a shop has given you exceptional service then it may not be inappropriate to tip. If a concierge/maitre d’ or similar performs exceptionally well then a generous tip would definitely be in order.
It is useful to have a ready supply of dollar bills just in case the need should arrive, if you need change in a restaurant for a tip then let the server know when they are collecting your payment.
Staff working in more expensive/upscale establishments may expect a higher level of tip, but the service should justify this.
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