We often get asked by Las Vegas visitors who they should tip and how much is appropriate. The word “tip” has origins as far back as the 1600’s in England, and is NOT an acronym for “To Insure Prompt Service” as many people believe.
There are very few situations where you should actually provide a gratuity prior to service being rendered. so the entire concept of “To Ensure Prompt Service” falls flat. A tip is essentially a cash offering in reward of good service. It is offered AFTER the service has been rendered.
There are a couple of situations where providing a tip before receiving the service are appropriate.
1. Bartenders: If you are in a busy bar and want to get the bartender’s attention, a $20 bill will usually ensure prompt service. Just be sure to tip $1-$2 per drink in each subsequent round.
2. VIP Hosts / Nightclub doorman: If there is a long line at the club and you don’t want to wait, start at $20 and work your way up from there. For ultra exclusive clubs, $100+ a head is not uncommon. If you approach them with some crumpled up ones and a five dollar bill, you might as well stay in line.
Pro Tip: keep in mind that many establishments in Las Vegas include an automatic gratuity of 15-20%. This is common for large parties or for expensive purchases such as bottle service. ALWAYS read your receipt. If there is an automatic gratuity on there, don’t feel obliged to add more unless you believe the service was truly exceptional. If you see any other additional charges like “service fees” feel free to contact the manager and ask for an explanation. You often times can get them removed.
Taxi: 10-15% of the total fare
Skycap: $1-$2 per bag, more if they are heavy or unwieldy
Bellhop: $2-$5 per bag based on size and number of bags
Valet: $2-$5 to park, same at pickup time. As we mentioned before, valet service is free at every major casino on the strip and downtown Las Vegas. If you’re meeting a colleague for lunch or just making a quick trip to the buffet, it’s usually worth it to pay the $4 in tips for the convenience. Keep in mind, many casinos are designed so you have a 10-20 minute walk through shops and casino floor before you get to popular destinations. Is your time worth more than $8/hour?
Hotel Doorman: If he gets the door for you, feel free to throw him a couple bucks. If he helps with your bags, use the Skycap scale.
Maid service: This one varies wildly depending on two things: how big of mess have you made? And how expensive is the hotel? Figure $1-$2 per day at a lower priced hotel with little cleaning required, all the way up to $10-$20 per day if you’ve trashed the place and it’s a high end establishment. Don’t just throw some bills and change on the nightstand. If the staff isn’t sure it’s a tip, they can’t take it. If you leave an envelope or a note with the money, preferably placed on the pillow, it will be clear to the cleaning staff that the money is meant for them.
Restaurant: 10-20% of entire bill. If a very expensive bottle of wine is purchased it is acceptable to tip towards the lower end of the scale.
Buffets: If you have a server that clears your plates, serves drinks, and is helpful, $2-$10 is appreciated.
Bartender: $1-$2 per drink or 15-20% of total bill.
Gentlemen’s clubs are a whole ‘nother ballgame, so we’re going to break out strip club tipping into a stand alone article in our next installment.
Take issue with our tipping guidelines? Let us know in the comments! Share this with your friends on Facebook or Twitter and keep the discussion going?