Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Most Bangaloreans conscious of being generous tippers abroad as 80% feel tipping culture is stronger overseas than in India   

Urns labelled “To Insure Promptness” placed in English pubs in the 18th century is believed to be a possible origin of the term tipping.  Today, it is almost imperative to tip for the service one receives at hotels, restaurants, spas, cabs and many more service establishments especially when travelling. While the concept of tipping may appear fairly simple and commonplace on the outset, it is in fact a far more complex ritual with a number of rules, expectations and motivations.  The India Tipping Survey conducted by TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site unravels some of these insights on tipping practices by Indian travellers.

The survey conducted among 1400 respondents found a staggering 97% respondents tip for services while on holiday, which includes 50% who said they ‘always’ tip on such occasions.  On the other hand, 65% of those who never tip said they don't understand why they need to pay extra since they are already paying for the service.

Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India said, “While the survey clearly indicates that the practice of tipping is heavily prevalent among Indian travellers, it is strange to note that our perception of Indians as a community of generous tippers is very low, with only 15% respondents indicating Indians are generous tippers. Indian travellers also perceived themselves as the least generous tippers among travellers from among a number of countries, followed by the Chinese.”

Deciding on the Deserving

Top 3 reasons to Tip: 47% respondents said they tip if staff have met their basic expectations, while another 40% seem harder to please and only tip if they think staff have gone the extra mile in their service. It also seems that people feel obliged to tip as a social norm or courtesy as 35% respondents agreed they tipped simply because they think it’s expected.  

While tipping hotel personnel, helpfulness of service is the most important factor while in case of restaurant service, the top reason for tipping waiters is politeness of service.

The Tipping Ritual

-       While it seems to be common practice while vacationing, 92% respondents said they don’t really plan a tipping budget before going on holiday. However, the 3 services most commonly at the receiving end of tipping generosity by Indian holidaymakers are waiters (87%), hotel porters (76%) and room service (59%).
-       Though for a majority of 47% respondents the current economic situation has not impacted tipping habits, an almost equally large 45% accepted they have reduced their tips as a result of the same.
-       While a tip is most often given at the end of a service, it isn’t uncommon for people to pay tips at the beginning instead to try and ensure a great experience. In fact 48% respondents in the survey confessed to tipping hotel staff at the beginning of their holiday in order to receive better service for the duration of their stay. However waiters have to be at their best, keep their fingers crossed and wait until after serving a patron to see the green, with 90% respondents saying they don’t tip waiters at the beginning of a meal.
-       A sizeable 71% of respondents also denied tipping if a service charge has already been included in the bill or cost of service. Despite this the opinion is quite equally divided on whether tipping should be abolished and included in the bill with 40% in favour and 44% against the change.
Tipping Diversity
Tipping habits seem to be consistent for most Indians as 56% said they tip more or less the same while travelling within India or abroad. However, 27% said they tip more when they holiday abroad.
-       The biggest reason cited by people for tipping more abroad is that they believe the tipping culture is stronger internationally. Interestingly, the next biggest reason for tipping more abroad seems to be that vacationers don’t want Indians to appear as cheap travellers.
-       Tipping norms vary across cultures and countries and Indian travellers don’t seem to be ignorant to the fact and want to be aware and clued in on social expectations as 68% respondents said they take the trouble to find out tipping norms and expectations when travelling to another country.
-       The survey shows that majority of holiday goers tip whatever amount they consider appropriate at a hotel, restaurant or for a cab. For the next largest group of respondents, the most popular tip amount for a restaurant is 10% of the bill whereas for cab and hotels Indians said their tips vary depending on expectation for the country.
-       The survey also unveils that Indians feel the most pressure or compelled to tip when travelling within Asia (32%) followed by North America (28%).
-        The survey reveals that Indians consider Americans (56%) followed by the English (31%) to be the most generous travellers when it comes to tips, based on travel experience and common perception. However, the scales tip against the Indian traveller as survey respondents vote Indians as the least generous of tippers (35%) followed by the Chinese (28%). Further, when asked specifically if they believed Indians were generous tippers, only 15% responded in the affirmative.

Anything for a tip

While a tip is largely at the discretion of the customer, service providers do go the extra mile sometimes to ensure they secure the extra buck. From their tipping experiences, 71% respondents have had a service provider hint indirectly for a tip whereas 41% have been asked directly or specifically to part with a tip. Though accounting for a small share, 10% even said they have experienced a situation where the provider of a service returned their tip indicating it was too low.

Women more cautious tippers

While only marginally more men (52%) ‘always’ tip compared to women(46%), women are harder to satisfy with service as majority of  women respondents cited their biggest reason to tip as, when the staff have gone an extra mile, compared to men for whom staff meeting basic expectations is the top reason to tip.
Women also are more careful if the bill includes a service charge with 10% more women than men saying they don’t tip in the case. Also 49% women are of the view that tipping should be abolished and included in the bill compared to 38% men. Survey results also show that the current economic situation impacted more women, with half of the female respondents acknowledging reducing their tips compared to 44% men.
It also seems that more men tend to be at the receiving end of tipping angst:
·         21% men were confronted sometime about not tipping compared to only 11% women
·         42% men were asked directly for a tip as opposed to 35% women.
·         11% men had their tip returned while only 4% women were returned their tip

Comparing responses from Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, the survey reveals:
·         Chennai had the largest percentage of respondents(63%) who said they ‘always’ tip on holiday and Kolkata had the lowest at 42%
·         While Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai seem easy to please with majority of the respondents in each city tipping if staff meets basic expectations. Hyderabad seems harder to please with the top reason to tip is when the staff goes an extra mile.
·         One-third respondents from Delhi said they tip more when on holiday abroad, highest among the 6 metros.
·         More Delhiites (80%) are affected in their decision to tip when a restaurant or hotel includes a service charge to the bill while least Kolkatans (56%) are concerned by it.
·         More Mumbaikars (72%) are eager to find out tipping norms and expectations when travelling abroad with lowest percentage of Hyderabadis (60%) worried about the same.
·         Largest percentage of Mumbaikars (49%) have a strong view on abolishing tipping and including it in the bill.

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