A Guide to Tipping Practices in the Hospitality Industry

By Culinary Academy Las Vegas June 16, 2016

A Guide to Tipping Practices in the Hospitality Industry

Tipping practices can very wildly depending on where you and what you are doing. While tipping is not mandatory in most states, it is nonetheless a customary practice that is often closely tied to our understanding of social etiquette. Within certain sectors of the hospitality industry, the most notable of which are sit-down restaurants, servers more often than not rely on the tips they receive to make up an essential portion of their wage. In fact, servers can sometimes make roughly $2.00 per hour as opposed to the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 per hour based on the expectation that the tips they receive from their patrons will “tip the balance.” In such cases, the words “Don’t forget to tip your server!” represent more than a mere reminder to showcase our casual generosity.

However, while most people in the U.S. are well acquainted with the relatively common practice of tipping severs the average 15%-20% per meal (and are more often than not overcome with the desire to hang their heads in shame in the event that they do not), the understanding of when and how much to tip tends to diminish as we move to other sectors of the hospitality industry. From bartenders to housekeepers, the question of how and when to tip each service provider can be the source of a great deal of anxiety for some patrons.


Though tipping bartenders is nearly (if not just as) commonplace as tipping food servers, the question of “How much?” leaves many scratching their heads. $1.00 per drink or (like food servers), 15% to 20% per bill is generally considered a fair range within most establishments. However, you should consider the complexity of your drink orders as opening a bottle of beer may not necessarily warrant the same tip as putting together a Pisco Sour Cocktail.

Wine Steward
 or Sommelier 

Higher end dining establishments often provide the service of a wine steward or sommelier, each of which takes the time to share their expertise, learn about your unique tastes, and provide solid recommendations that reflect both. 10% to 15% is generally considered a fair tipping range for their deft service.

Bus Person

Given that patrons do not generally find themselves interacting with the bus person in the same capacity that they do food servers and bartenders, the opportunity to tip does not often present itself in this case. Fortunately, bussers indirectly benefit from a segment of the tips that are granted to the food servers. Their allotted portion varies from one dining establishment to the next, but you may rest assured knowing that you are acknowledging their efforts when tipping your server.



Housekeepers provide an essential service, as their diligence has a direct impact on the long-term comfort patrons enjoy in their “home away from home.” Leaving a $2.00 to $5.00 tip (with a “Thank You” note if you’re so inclined) per night is the standard practice, as it provides a tangible token of your appreciation for their efforts. However, when tipping, keep in mind that the more people occupying your room or suite, the heavier the housekeeping workload will be.
Tipping is ultimately a gratuity that demonstrates your appreciation for a given service, as well as the one providing it. Aside from cases where a mandatory gratuity fee accompanies the overall bill, it is often left at the discretion of the patron. The guidelines above outline the most common hospitality standards, but your decision to tip more (or, in some cases, less) may vary depending on the level of service you receive. However, always bear in mind that an offer of gratuity is unlikely to ever be the source of an affront, so you should never feel discouraged to tip!


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