Hotel Online  Special Report
Now I’ve Seen Everything -  
“Food Servers Employing the Internet to Divulge
Names of Customers Who Tip Less than 17%”

Harry Nobles  - September 2006

Now I’ve Seen Everything

A long time ago, when I was young, someone told me if I lived long enough I would see everything.  Apparently I have reached that point in my life.

The September 18, 2006 article (from the Chicago Tribune) posted on Hotel Online entitled: “Food Servers Employing the Internet to Divulge Names of Customers Who Tip Less than 17%” really caught my attention.  If you have not read it, I urge you to do so.

I am fully aware that many hotel/restaurant operators, guests/customers, and food service professionals will strongly disagree with my reaction and the following comments.  I also believe that there are many who will agree with me. Whether you agree or disagree, I welcome your feedback.

First, the facts; 

(1) there are many thousands of dedicated servers,  the majority in fact, who consistently render genuinely cordial and professional service to all guests without knowing in advance how much gratuity they will receive.

(2) There are guests who leave only a small tip or none at all, either because they do not understand our system, they do not approve of the system, or they are just too cheap.  I truly believe the last category represents only a small fraction of diners. Whatever their reason, this group will always be with us. 

(3) There are some incompetent, uncaring, and rude servers out there; they, like the cheap guests will always be with us. No guest really wants to reward lousy service, and should not be expected to.  The problem is that very, very few guests will actually explain why they are not leaving a tip; the ultimate result is that the server assumes the guest is just cheap.  The guest may have wished to send a message, but unfortunately, it was not received

I know from many years of dining out professionally that poor service or rude and incompetent wait staff is rare; the majority of servers I have personally encountered were very cordial, competent, and did a great job.  After all these years, I am not totally convinced that the expectation of a tip is the prime motivator behind great service.  I am reminded that we have a couple of hotel  clients that rigidly adhere to a no tipping policy: yet guest service is consistently excellent.

In my professional and personal opinion, we need to educate the inexperienced and uninformed diners that our system of tipping, whether we approve or not, will be around for a long time.  The Hotel Online article points out the inherent problems in changing our system to a more European-style approach or raising menu prices.  So we are forced to come up with a viable education vehicle that may in time eliminate the problem, or at least reduce it. I think articles by industry leaders, consultants, or anyone with an idea might be a positive start.  Certainly servers could post articles that explain, even attempt to justify the system of tipping.  Just do not include guests’ names; that is over the line.

Instead, take a positive stand and try to suggest some solutions without  embarrassing or angering a guest. All you will get with that  will be an ex-guest.

We really do not need employees posting  guest  names on the Internet.   What is next?  Should guests post the names of establishments and employees where the service  was not to their liking?  I hope not; to me that is as offensive as is this situation.  The guest has a right, even a duty, to tell the establishment owner/manager about a bad experience, but I do not advocate  posting the details on the Internet.  There has to be a better way to handle this.

We also need to educate food servers that getting stiffed is a part of the job; hopefully it won’t happen often, but it will happen.  Anyone entering the profession for the first time should be made aware of this.  If the risk of getting stiffed is unacceptable, it may be wise to consider another line of work..  Harry Truman put it very well when he said “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” (no pun intended.)


Harry Nobles
Direct line: (757) 564-3761
800.750.5666 Toll-Free
757.564.0076 Fax

Also See: Does Hotel Room Size Matter? / Harry Nobles / September 2006
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating / Harry Nobles/ May 2006
AAA Evaluation Procedure: Is It Fair? / Harry Nobles/ May 2006
Four Star vs Mobil Four Star / Harry Nobles/ February 2006
Rating Condominiums / Harry Nobles / January 2006
AAA Five Diamond Lodgings; Chain vs Independent / November 2005
Katrina & Rita: Silver Lining or Opportunity? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / October 2005
Our Dream Hotel / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / July 2005
Losing a Diamond or Star / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs /  March 2005
Ratings vs Guest Satisfaction / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2005
Our "Pick of the Month" / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / November 2004
5 Star vs 5 Diamond: What’s the Difference? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / November 2004
Strategic Alliance Announced, Committed to Hospitality Excellence / August 2004
Family Resorts: Suggested Strategies / Cheryl Griggs / July 2004
Are Small Resorts Unfairly Treated by the AAA and Mobil Rating Criteria / July 2004
Designing For Optimum Global Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / June 2004
QualAsia Formed to Provide Authoritative Organization to Inspect and Evaluate Hotels Across Asia; Harry Nobles Appointed Chairman of New Asian Hotel Rating Service / May 2004
Validity of Online Hotel Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / April 2004
Resorts Ratings Redux / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2004
Are Your Trainers Trained? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Grigg /  January 2004 
The Language of Service / Cheryl Griggs / October 2003
Hotel Renovation Ideas vs AAA Ratings Criteria / Harry Nobles / October 2003
New Employee Orientation: Necessity or Luxury?  /  July 2003
Save the Best - Replace the Rest / July 2003
AAA and Mobil Ratings As a Sales Tool / May 2003
How Well Do You Know Your Competitor? / May 2003
Our Favorite Hotel?  / March 2003
The Current Value of AAA Hotel Ratings / Feb 2003
Stars and Diamonds; Some Similarities and Some Differences / January 2003
AAA's Delay: Good or Bad? / July 2002
Timing Is Everything, Or Is It? / July 2002 
Boutique Hotels: Have They Gone Too Far / May 2002
People Really Do Make the Difference / Jan 2002
What Is a Boutique Hotel? / Dec 2001
The Non-negotiable Traits of Leaders / Oct 2001 
How Important is Service? / Sept 2001
Front Desk Service Mistakes / Aug 2001
Food & Beverage Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001
Bell Staff Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001 
Attitude vs Aptitude / June 2001
Female Business Travelers' Expectations / June 2001
Is Outsourcing Your Training a Viable Alternative? / June 2001
Unique Identity + Consistent Service = Success / May 2001
AAA Standards vs  Guests' Expectations / May 2001
Are Your Guests Better Informed Than Your Staff? / April 2001
Are U.S. Hotels Rated Differently From Other North American Hotels? / April 2001
The Design Theme - AAA / Mobil Ratings Connection / March 2001
Attitude Can Make the Difference / January 2001
How Should Casino-Hotels be Rated? / Dec 2000
Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly? / Nov 2000
Is Your Property Suffering From Design Deficiency? / Nov 2000 
The Future of AAA Ratings / September 2000
What Is Your Optimum AAA Rating / August 2000
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating…../ June 2000
Are AAA Ratings Always Accurate and Objective / May 2000
Creating Atmosphere / Jan 2000
What is "Atmosphere"? / December 1999
Maintaining Your AAA Rating / Nov 1999
Earning a AAA Rating vs Maintaining a AAA Rating: Which Is More Difficult?  / Oct 1999
Can Outstanding Service Offset Hotel Physical Deficiencies in the Rating Systems? / Harry Nobles / June 1999 
Consistency: The Hallmark of a Fine Hotel / September 1999
Who Should Train Your Employees  / Aug 2000 
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Key to Success: Training + Follow-Up / June 2000
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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