Tips on Tipping

Tipping, like politics and religion, is a verboten subject if you ever want to get through a holiday dinner without an argument. It is a highly personal decision, impacted by your own experiences, morals and even social guilt. No one wants to be perceived as stingy, but no one wants to tip after a horrible experience.

To help guide you through the landmine-strewn landscape of tipping, surveyed more than 70 of our employees from concierges to tour guides, contact center agents to executives, Las Vegas natives to Las Vegas newbies. Our results will help give you navigate the perilous waters of tipping.

Remember, in the then end you need to tip what you think is appropriate based on your requests, bill, service received and interaction.

The Valet

Las Vegas etiquette says you tip the valet. No one on our surveyed staff advocated stiffing the valet.

Eighty percent of our staff suggested tipping $5 or less. But everyone split on how to award that. Some tip $2 at drop off and $2 on pick-up. Others tip $5 only when they pick up. Nineteen percent suggested tipping between $5 and $10, while just 1 percent tipped between $10 and $20.

Everyone emphasized these amounts are a basic tip. You have a special request – keep the car at the front, etc. – then you need to tip more, way more.

And a few suggested that you tip more in the summer, when temperatures in Las Vegas can reach up to 118 degrees.

Suggested tip: $5 total unless you ask for special services or have other extenuating circumstances.

The Maid

For a short period of time in the 1970s my mom worked in Las Vegas as a hotel maid. Her typical 8-hour shift required she clean 18 rooms. In each room she had 25 minutes to:

  • Change the sheets on both beds (This was back before hotels gave you the option of not having new sheets each night)
  • Wipe down the surfaces of the furniture
  • Clean the window and drapes
  • Check the lights and replace any burn-out bulbs
  • Empty the trash cans
  • Clean the bathroom sink
  • Clean the toilet
  • Clean the shower and tub
  • Clean the mirror
  • Replace toiletries and an in-room promotional items
  • Clean the bathroom floor
  • Vacuum the room floor

To this day, even though she is the cleanest hotel guest ever, she ALWAYS tips the maid. Being a maid, she explains “is one of the most thankless jobs.”

It's also the one category (other than nightclubs) where our staff is the most divided. Seventeen percent don't tip the maid at all. For many, the tip relates to the number of nights at the hotel. If they stay for a week, they tip. Short stays, they don't tip. The average stay in Vegas is 3.6 nights. With a lot of weekend drive traffic from California and Arizona, there's a substantial number of folks who may only be here for one or two nights.

Still 82 percent of our staff leave some sort of tip for the maid – 66 percent left between $1 and $5 per day while 16 percent left between $5 and $10 per day.

As one person explained it, “It depends on how messy I leave the room. If all she (the maid) does is refresh the linens and towels, $5 – $10 a day. If she has to clean up a crap load of garbage from my child, then (I tip) more than $20 per day.”

Some said they only started tipping the maid after they lived in Las Vegas. Living in a town where 46 percent of the population work in some job related to tourism, you become intimately aware of the amount of work it takes to do those jobs and how much people earn (about $16 per hour plus benefits for maids).

Suggested tip: $2 – $5 per day

The Bellman

The advent of airline baggage fees had spurred many of us to become more efficient packers. When you can be hit with fees ranging from $50 to $100 per bag, you suddenly may not need that extra pair of shoes.  But even with the fees, most of us still bring at least one bag and many bring two, especially international travelers.

So if you don't drag your own bags across the resort and up to your room, what do you tip the bellman that does? Seventy-four percent of our staff recommended you tip between $1 and $5 per bag with another 20 percent recommending you tip between $5 and $10 per bag. Only 6 percent said they don't tip the bellman at all.

Those who did tip also mentioned they tip more if the bags were extremely heavy, while one person said they tipped more if the bellman was older or a woman.

One thing you should be aware of is that the hotel may have a porterage fee. Porterage fees usually apply only to group check-ins. If you have a group rate for your room (say your with a convention group), check to see if there is also a porterage fee to take the entire groups bags up to the room.

Also, if you arrive with lots of luggage and request a whole bell cart, you may get hit with a porterage fee even though you are not part of a group.

Suggested tip:$1 – $5 per bag, more if the bags are heavy or you have a special request.

The Tour Guide

With the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead only 45 minutes from Las Vegas by car and the Grand Canyon only four hours away, tours are a popular activity for visitors to Vegas. There are hundreds of types of tours departing from Las Vegas every day.

Whether it's a bus, plane, helicopter, boat or other tour, 85 percent of our staff recommends some form of tip for your tour guide.  The majority of people (38.5 percent) suggested a tip of $10 to $20, 23 percent suggest $5 to $10, 18.5 percent suggest a tip of under $5 while 5 percent suggest a tip of over $20.  Fifteen percent would leave no tip at all.

Other individual suggestions include tipping 10 – 20 percent of the overall tour cost.

Suggested tip:$10 – $20

Taxi Driver

Before even considering a tip, before even stepping into a taxi, you want to avoid long-hauling. When leaving McCarran International Airport, the I-215 airport tunnel (the only tunnel near the airport) is never the shortest distance route to most south and center Strip-area hotels. If a driver takes passengers by that route, without their permission, it's called “long-hauling” – and it's illegal.

If it happens you can file a complaint with the Nevada Taxicab Authority using a form found online.

At any given moment there 2,200 taxis on the road in Las Vegas delivering 27 million taxi rides a year. Many of these drivers do provide great service, so for those drivers, here are some suggested tips. Overall 93.3 percent of our surveyed staff recommended giving some type of tip, 71 percent suggested a tip of 15 percent or less of the fare. Another 21.7 percent suggested a tip of between 15 to 20 percent of the fare. And a final 7.3 percent said they don't tip the taxi driver.

Suggested tip:15 percent or less of the fare unless you have a special request / need.