Sunday, November 20, 2005

What Affects Tips?

Remember this in case you ever get a job waiting tables (from an article in the Washington Post by Richard Morin):

Scrawling a patriotic message on a restaurant tab is a great way to boost tips -- at least in northern Utah. Communications professors John S. Seiter of Utah State University and and Robert H. Gass of California State University at Fullerton instructed two waitresses to serve up four different types of bills to 100 diners at two local restaurants.

The servers wrote "United We Stand," and "God Bless America" or "Have a nice day" on the bills. A control group received no personal note.

Patrons gave a 20 percent tip on tabs that included "United We Stand" but only 15 percent when they got no message at all. The other two messages garnered slightly more than 15 percent, Seiter and Gass reported in a recent article in the Journal of
Applied Social Psychology.

These conclusions about tipping come from a researcher named Michael Lynn from Cornell:

1. Two studies show little relationship between quality of waiter service and size of tip.

2. Hotel bellboys can double the size of their tips, on average, by showing guests how the TV and air conditioning work.

3. Tipping is less prevalent in countries where unease about inequality is especially

4. The more a culture values status and prestige, the more likely that culture will use tipping to reward service.

5. Tips are higher in sunny weather.

6. Servers can increase their tips by giving their names to customers, squatting next to tables, touching their customers, and giving their customers after-dinner mints.

7. Drawing a smiley face on the check increases a waitress's tips by 18 percent but decreases a waiter's tips by 9 percent.

8. In one study, waitresses increased their tips by 17 percent by wearing flowers in their hair. In general it pays to look distinctive albeit not freaky.

Here is a full article by Dr. Lynn offering advice on how to increase tips based on his research.

Any thoughts on why these techniques work for increasing tips? Any other things that you think affect the amount that you tip in a restaurant?

(Source: Marginal Revolution)