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Tipping Redux: How Much to the Concierge?

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Don of Newtown Square writes: In a recent post, you gave helpful suggestions about what to tip hotel housekeepers. What about other lodging employees, like the bellhop and the concierge? Thanks.

 

Hi Don,

You don’t have to tip the concierge a lot. Nice bottles of wine or a great tie will suffice. I kid, and I’m happy to address that concierge conundrum. But first, the bellhop—or, as one generally refers to himself in the trade: the bellman.

The fast rule is “a buck a bag,” or a $5 gratuity for taking three to five pieces up to a room. If there’s a doorman-to-bellman transfer of luggage, then you may give the former $1, if you’d like. But remember, the latter usually pools his tips, so it’s cool if you don’t tag the other guy at the door.

The best bellmen don’t just lug luggage, though. They’ll sell the hotel’s (and their own) sizzle: “The ice bucket is over here. Would you like me to fill it for you? Room service is open 24 hours, and our health club is available to guests as early as 6 a.m. Are you dining with us tonight? Please call me at the bell stand if you need anything.”

In other words: If he (or the occasional she) provides a heightened level of service that leads to your better enjoyment and comfort level, then the opportunity for extra compensation presents itself. Believe me, as a former bellman, I always appreciated those extra dollars.

Now, on to the concierge. It is important for you, as the guest, to understand the distinction between a hotel concierge’s required duties and the extras, such as invested time and effort, plus a list of contacts to help fulfill a request. (Don’t necessarily tip the concierge for having just opened the door for you when you arrive.) All the while, you should know in your mind beforehand what the answer to you request is worth to you. What’s the value of a last-minute corner table in one of the best local restaurants? Or two front-row, center-mezzanine seats to a new performance? Or having some Philly cheesesteaks sent to Idaho Falls for lunch the next day?

I may be a private corporate concierge now, but my roots stem from having been a hotel concierge for the first four years of my career. Back then, I never expected guests to tip me for performing simple, rote duties like calling a taxi, making a restaurant reservation, or setting up a local tour—one-phone-call kind of stuff. Consider, too, that some concierges earn commissions from recommended vendors like local tour companies, limo and shuttle services, and even ticket brokers.

Tip freely, but tip smartly. It’s also good when a reward isn’t monetary. Your concierge will certainly appreciate a nice keepsake from you.

Hospitably Yours,
Ken

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