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Is Gratuity Included?

Dallas Limousine Service > Uncategorized > Is Gratuity Included?
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The answer, in the fewest words possible, is “no.” But it’s not required either. Let me share a story that might shed some light on the ambiguous art of tipping your chauffeur.

When I was a hotel bellman we worked for $5/hour plus any tips we could get from the hotel guests. This pay plan led to two basic strategies from the bell staff. One strategy was to stand around and wait to be asked for help. That way it was 100% guaranteed that the guest would tip us since they were essentially buying labor.

The other strategy was to scan the floor looking and listening for anyone who might need a hand, directions, advice, a car service, reservations, etc., and just volunteer. If the guest appreciated the help and found that it was a relief to have it, they might reward it with a tip. If they didn’t, or they weren’t really wanting the assistance, they might not. It was a crapshoot with a high chance of working for free. But, inevitably, the bellmen who implemented this strategy made far more (FAR more) than those who waited to be called upon.

The only difference between a hotel and a car service is that the line between what you are paying for and what is extra is a bit blurry. In a hotel it is obvious that you’re paying a specific room, and not for a human being to be your personal advocate. So, when a bellman overhears that it is your anniversary and gets you a free room upgrade, sends a complimentary bottle of champaign to you, or pulls some strings with the GM to get you a quiet table at the hotel restaurant, it’s pretty clear that this was above the expectation and you’re getting more than you paid for. But it’s not always that clear with car service. With car service, you’re already paying for both the car and driver. So, what is the extra? Well, it’s for anything you noticed and appreciated that went above par.

Did he notice a traffic jam and take a timely exit saving you 20 minutes? Did you enjoy the conversation (or absence of one)? Was there an excessive amount of luggage that he broke a sweat to rearrange? Did he run a few errands for you while you were in a meeting? Or happened to have some much-needed Tylenol on hand when your migraine flared up saving you from having to stop?

Like a hotel, a chauffeur delivers the service you’re paying for. But, like a bellman, he also keeps one eye scanning for opportunities to take a little more hassle off your plate. Sometimes there’s not much opportunity for that because the assignment is so straight-forward. A short trip to the airport where you only had a carry-on, for example, doesn’t leave a lot of room for going above the call of duty. But other times there’s tremendous opportunity; like when you’re plane gets re-routed and he stays there for you at no extra charge, or gets you a free vehicle upgrade.

So, should you tip? And how much? That depends…

How far above the service did he go, and how much of that did you appreciate?
Did he appear to be shooting in the dark just giving you free stuff that you don’t care about? Or was his service obviously tailored to your preferences?
Is it even in your budget to leave extra? If not, that’s okay! But if it is, are you willing to invest a little extra to show that you noticed and to encourage that level of attention on future reservations?

There are many considerations. But one of the most important considerations is this… how much do you like this driver? If he became too busy and could not handle all of his clients, are you okay being placed with another driver? Or would you rather earn a place on his short-list? And how high on that short-list do you want to be? At the end of the day, that’s one of the most powerful functions of a tip: To Increase Priority. As chauffeurs, we are limited commodities. If you want to work with a specific person who has a specific style or ability, be a good tipper. Do you think the bellman will look for the guy who gave him $100 yesterday to see if he needs anything else today? Absolutely! He’ll walk straight past other guest and give him first right of refusal. And if you happen to be someone who places a very high value on rapport, or on high-level repeat service from an attentive professional, there’s no better way to get that kind of priority than to buy it.

My Service Philosophy

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