Tipping the Concierge

Jun 10th, 2003, 09:32 AM
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Tipping the Concierge

Despite my extensive world travel, this is an area where I feel woefully ignorant.

We recently stayed 6 nights at a small Paris hotel. Prior to our arrival I emailed the concierge to make a restaurant reservation for us. During our stay, the person at the front desk made another dinner reservation. We also had the sort of minor assistance (directions, recommendation for nearby cafe, etc) that one normally gets at the front desk from whoever is there (and that I consider just part of the usual hotel service, nothing extra.)

It became clear soon enough that there wasn't really a concierge, per se. Whoever was on the front desk performed that function. So in what manner and how much would you, oh wise fodorites, have tipped the "concierge"?
Marilyn is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 09:36 AM
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Hi Marilyn,

It is not necessary to tip the concierge, or anyone else.

It is, however, good insurance to leave a small tip whenever someone provides a little extra service.
ira is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 09:43 AM
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Hi Ira -- I don't understand what you mean by "good insurance". We're unlikely to stay at that hotel again, if you are referring to future treatment. And I still want to know how much and in what exact manner one WOULD tip in this case. Or are you saying you would not leave a tip at all in these circumstances? Thanks!
Marilyn is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 09:50 AM
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I think tipping is personal..you leave as much as YOU think the person deserves for rendering valuable service. That being said, I wouldn;t rely on some folks here in terms of "how much" given the fact that recently someone said they wait (on tour busses) to see if anyone else is tipping before they decide to do so or not...gives new meaning to the word "cheap."
I do not agree that making dinner reservations is necessarily "minor" assistance..nor is it something they do routinely unless asked.
Again, I think you should tip or not tip according to service level rendered.
NOW: why don't you tell us how much you did or did not tip????
Jun 10th, 2003, 10:05 AM
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Bootman, I will tell, but not yet. I want to see what other fodorites would do in this situation.

I think fodorites run the gamut from incredibly cheap to extravagant tippers, from what I've read here over the past year.

I agree that making dinner reservations is an "extra" service, although in this case it was a matter of a single phone call. But come on, guys, how much? And how would you give it to whoever you would give it to?

Honestly, I am asking this because after we did what we did, we didn't feel we had done it right.
Marilyn is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 11:05 AM
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It would really depend upon the specific service. If they just suggested a nearby cafe or sight, perhaps nothing. If they actually made a reservation at a difficult to get spot or expensive restaurant, you could always 'slip' them, say 2-5 euros when you saw them again and let them know how much you enjoyed it. They may turn it down, especially if it was done by one of the hotel owners.
mauld is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 11:59 AM
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There isn't any efficient way to establish a price for an extra service, because tips, unlike prices, don't float on the open market. In no other segment of the market would you take the word of a guidebook author or a messageboard hack as the price, so ideally, you would negotiate the price for this service with the provider of said service beforehand, politely turning down the service if you can't reach agreement and ante-ing up if you do. I don't provide concierge services, so my input on the vendor side is irrelevant.

If you truly want to be generous, give money without expecting anything in return. Since this isn't the function of a tip, I'd leave considerations like 'generous' and 'cheap' out of the equation.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:06 PM
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I promise not to live or die by what you all say. And not to be too testy, but please spare me your philosophy on tipping, what it means, why it is subjective, whether it is mandatory or not. That's not my question!

How much would you leave, if anything, in the circumstances I described, and would you give it to the person who happened to be behind the desk at checkout, put it in an envelope marked "Concierge" (even though you knew there was no such person), or WHAT?

Marilyn is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:11 PM
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Dear Marilyn,

What I meant by 'insurance' was that if you give a small tp for making a reservation, you will be more likely to get another reservation made.

I think that that is worth about 1 - 2E depending on how popular the place is.
ira is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:35 PM
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We handed the woman at our front desk 20 euros when checking out after a 6 night stay. We originally thought her the owner and used to tip her nothing. One year I brought her back a bouquet of flowers from the nearby market. Another year I left her probably 20 euros in an envelope with a nice note saying how her presence at the front desk is a goodly part of the charm of Paris for us. She usually makes a few reservations for us--same or next day kind of calls. On the other hand I also wind up having the night person or the weekend person make a couple of calls for us and only tip him a euro or two, or maybe even just a merci. Not much logic to all of this, but it's kind of how we feel and we feel pretty warm toward "our" Dominique.
JmVikmanis is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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At the risk of sounding stingy, I would leave nothing.
I never ever tip someone for doing their job, don't they get paid for that?
Now if they have gone out of their way to be exceptionally helpful, way above the call of duty then and only then would I tip.
For example the baggage guy who takes cases to the room wants a tip....why? its his job.
But if the baggage guy after work takes you and shows you some route you were asking about, well of course offer him something I wouldn't expect him to accept but he probably would...lol

Ebineezer Muck
Mucky is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:46 PM
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If a concierge or one person in particular is helpful in making reservations, meeting other requests,(getting husband's faxes to us, etc.) giving directions, I usually hand them an envelope containing about $25 for a five- seven night stay. One time I did tip more extravagantly because a concierge was so helpful and quick in finding a doctor for us.
Hope this helps! What did you do?
Weadles is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:49 PM
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I have say, we aren't cheap. I tip easily. The problem is that I have found that people at the desk and consierges get a commission for a lot of the reservations they make. That's why they send you to certain restaurants. We had an experience with a consierge in Frankfurt that when we asked him about a hop on hop off trolley, he said it was non-existent. He tried to get us to take other tours he could book. We refused. When we found the trolley, it was so obvious and all over that it was impossible for him not to know about it.....basically he didn't get a commission from it. So, Marilyn, tip or not to tip.....whatever.
Ann1 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 01:01 PM
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Like Muck said, why should I tip the porter - whose job it is - to carry my luggage? I usually do. But why?

I once posted on this forum - same question - that I'd tipped almost $100 to a concierge in a pricey hotel for what I thought was extraordinary service. Several posters said I was dopey because he was just doing his job AND I was paying a premium for the hotel room.

At first, I was put off. I am now of the opinion that they were right. I look back at my tipping history and too often I was tipping to receive courtesy.

I won't say that "stiff 'em" is my new motto but I am certainly tighter than I used to be.
Snoopy is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 01:08 PM
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Thank you all for the specific replies! Here's what we did:

We asked the guy at the desk who had been the most helpful to us and who was there when we checked out if there was an actual concierge. He confirmed for us that there was not, that whatever staff was on just handled things.

We then gave him 10 euros. He sort of left it on the desk while we continued to say our goodbyes, which I found rather awkward. We wished that we had thought about it beforehand and put the money into an envelope, perhaps marked "Concierge" so it would go into some sort of shared tip pool. We thought maybe we should have given more, like 20 euros, but that seemed like a lot for 2 restaurant reservations, which was pretty much what we felt was "beyond the call of duty." On the other hand, 10 euros wasn't much if it was going to be shared among the 3-4 front desk staff. That was what threw us.

So now some of you will think us cheap, others will think us extravagant, but I'm happy to be in the middle of the road and feel that what we did was ok. Next time I'll use an envelope.

By the way, Ann1, the restaurants were places we specifically requested, and the casual recommendations were just for a local cafe so I doubt if there was any kickback involved.
Marilyn is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 01:24 PM
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I agree, knowing what and when to tip a concierge is the one area I am not comfortable with. Is the concierge paid a reasonable salary like, say a desk clerk, Or is it the expectation that they will receive tips like a bellman? It sounds like most people think $3 to $5 a day left in an envelope at departure is the way to handle it. Let's have some more feed back from veteran travelers.
Anton is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 05:58 PM
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I usually base my tips on the last cruise I took. The last night of our 5 day cruise, envelopes were left in our rooms for tipping what seemed like everyone who worked on the ship. The suggested amount was right around $2 per night. Last time I was in Paris the Concierge not only made dinner reservations for us but made sure the restaurant called him when we were finished to arrange for taxi to one of the Jazz clubs we were interested in. We also called the hotel to arrange for Taxi service back to the hotel after a wonderful night out in Paris. So, was 20 - 30 Euros too much, I didn't think so.
Clea is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 06:23 PM
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While staying at the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh recently, we asked the concierge for directions to a restaurant that was recommended to us. She called the restaurant and reserved a table for us and drew directions on a map. I tipped her 5 pounds. I thought that was fair.
John71cove is offline  
Jun 11th, 2003, 06:51 AM
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This is always a contentious subject.

One simple question. What functions do you expect from a concierge that you do not expect to tip? Anything? Where is the line? I am not asking what does rate a tip.

My feeling is that a restaurant recommendation, simple directions, a phone reservation, do not rate a tip. So call me a cheapskate, but I think that that's part of his job. Is it?
Jed is offline  
Jun 11th, 2003, 12:02 PM
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There are certain jobs where the salary isn't the full compensation, and concierge is one of them. It's expected and known that tips will make up a large part of the salary. It's an odd profession in that way, where the base salary is sort of like giving someone a desk or position in which they can then be an independent contractor.

I have never really used a concierge, so never tipped. The few hotels I've stayed at that had them, I might have only asked them a direction or gotten a map from them, or asked where the taxi stand was. I wouldn't tip anything for that and don't think anyone should -- I wouldn't tip a guy on the street who gave me directions either, nor would I expect a tip for doing that.

It's the extra services that should be tipped -- tracking down anything unusual, certainly, or special arrangements and services (ie, you must have fresh violets in February or must have a gold-plated harpsichord in your hotel room). These are the things real rich people pay for. Getting tickets to a sold-out important event (even though they may be marked up) or getting a reservation in a restaurant that you've tried and is full.

I don't know if I'd tip for someone to make one phone call for a simple reservation for dinner, if that were all I used them for. Probably not because at that level, I think tips are sort of sordid and embarrassing. I'll admit I am just not comfortable with the whole tipping thing for people one-on-one that you must face. Leaving it on a restaurant table is easy, but I find handing over small amounts of money to any person kind of demeaning and unsuitable. Just the way I feel, it seems tacky. I am sort of used to it at the hair salon where I go because I've gone there a long time, but even there, I find it awkward and prefer to leave it in an envelope at the front desk.

I wouldn't hand $5 directly to someone for making me a reservation, but perhaps I just am not used to that kind of lifestyle so it's not normal to me. Tipping someone in appreciation at the end of your stay is at least more palatable than those who advise tipping people in advance to bribe them to treat you well. That reduces people to the assumption they have no industry or standards, and are lazy by nature unless bribed, and just seems too class-conscious. It makes them more servants whom you are deigning to give some spending money to than just people doing a job and getting a "bonus" for doing a good job (like I do, on a yearly basis).

I've seen concierge salaries at beginning level, std hotels at about $10-14 an hour, and at luxury retirement communities (a lot of businesses and apt buildings or residences have them now) around $30-35K. Shutters on the Beach (a very expensive 5* hotel in Santa Monica) is advertising for a front office manager at $50-55K. That is the manager who supervises desk clerks and the concierge, but wouldn't get tips, I suppose.
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