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To tip or not to tip, that is the question.

I just returned from a trip to Sydney, Australia, where I keynoted an event and also conducted a journey mapping master class. It was my first time to Australia, so before I traveled, I did a little homework on what I needed to take along, what to expect while there, etc.

One of the interesting things I learned was that it’s not necessary to tip; Australia has a non-tipping culture. There is no expectation of a tip at all: not from the cab driver, the bartender, the waitress, the bellhop, or anyone else. In restaurants, for example, the wait staff is paid a solid hourly wage ($15-$18/hour) versus the minimum wage (or in some cases, less) received by wait staff in the States.

I also learned that customers most likely only tip in a fine-dining restaurant, but even then it’s not mandatory, and the gratuity amount for great service is usually 10% (versus 20% for the best service in the States).

A few years ago, I wrote a post called Are Gratuities an Expectation? and explored what that meant. When I arrived in Australia, I was really curious to find out how this would affect the customer experience. How would a non-tipping culture fare against what I was used to?

“How was the service?” you ask.

Well, let’s just say that it wasn’t consistent across the board, but it was pretty disappointing. My first cab driver was quite rude and not helpful at all, and I was warned afterward that that was the norm. At several restaurants, I sat for a long time just waiting for a waiter to take my order or to (re)fill my glass. Not only did I wait, but at two restaurants (because it had been so long) I got up to find waiters and wasn’t able to find a soul! Those experiences would rarely/ever happen in the States; certainly not as often as they did in the week that I was in Sydney.

Would it be different if there was the expectation of a tip for great service delivered? I think so.

What do you think?

Here is the simple but powerful rule… always give people more than they expect to get. -Nelson Boswell