How much would you tip in these scenarios?
I have a dining trip coming up, and there are several gratuity scenarios that are vexing me. Any and all advice is welcomed. I am traveling for three days, in a major US city. I am normally a 15-20% tipper, and often higher for exceptional service.
1. How much would you tip the concierge? He has been helpful by email in advance of my trip, booking reservations for me at three of the resort's restaurants. I could easily have booked the tables myself, and none of them were "hot tables" that I wouldn't have been able to get otherwise. I simply wanted one point of contact, to save some time. I plan to stop by and see him when I arrive, with a personal note and some X amount of $.
2. How would you thank the manager? One of our reservations is for a fine dining resto. The assistant GM has been extremely helpful in advance of the trip. For example: the restaurant does not offer a tasting menu, but he has conferred with the chef to create one for us, featuring many signature dishes. He has made two subsequent changes as we have added courses. I definitely want to do SOMETHING for him, and would prefer to give cash... but if cash is not appropriate for management, and I don't know him personally, what would be a good alternative?
3. How much to tip the sommelier? He is creating a custom wine pairing to go with the aforementioned tasting menu. I have not interacted with him at all in advance, and likely won't even see him till the dinner. Or... what if I don't see him that night at all?
4. Should I tip my waiter on the non-alcohol total only, if I'm also tipping the sommelier?
Should I just leave a trail of small bills as I move through the resort? I want to tip well and appropriately, but I confess I'm slightly overwhelmed by all the permutations and protocols on this one.
People notice 5s. 10s and 20s. You indicate you are willing to reward for service, but it's difficult to tell you what to tip, due to the limited knowledge of the actual destinations you are going to....and the actual effort the individuals have expended already ....and will, during the future visit.
With that said, for #'s 1-3.....I would leave a 10 spot ....unless you feel they have really gone far above and beyond their normal duties for the position.....then a 20 should be suffice. For #4, unless the bottle/pairings of wine are extremely expensive, I would tip the same 15-20% I normally would.....especially if the final outcome number meant only 10 bucks or less....Or you could look at it this way......if you normally tip 20%, with the bottle of wine added to the bill, tip only 15% for the entire bill....
II pass 5s, if I want to recognize someone's efforts for small favors and requests.....
Having worked in a hotel once upon a time, I can say that $20 along with a brief note thanking the Concierge or assistant manager is appropriate.
I'd also write an email or send a note to the upper management after your stay letting them know that these 2 employees made your stay memorable. Believe me, upper management of hotels look at these kinds of comments just as much as the negative ones.
As for the sommelier/waiter---what fourunder said.