Concierge ABC, Tipping, Travel Etiquette

For Love or Money

A Concierge favorite is the movie For Love or Money. There are not too many movies where the main movie character is a Concierge. Sometimes you might see a movie scene with a Concierge; of course, always wearing the Clefs d’Or Keys or answering a phone behind the Concierge Desk in the lobby of an upscale hotel. In For Love or Money, the lead character however, is a Concierge, named Doug Ireland, who is played by Michael J. Fox.

For Love Or Money

Michael J. Fox in For Love or Money, Photo by Universal Pictures.

We are not sure who gave Fox some insights into our profession, but he makes an excellent Concierge. You will see him behind his Concierge desk with two phones pressed to each ear, walking guest’s dogs, picking up jewelry in the hotel’s house-car, running up and down the employee stairs in the back of the house, and exchanging Broadway and sports tickets with fellow Concierges of other hotels during his lunch break. He is constantly surprising his guests with his care and knowing what they need, without them even realizing it themselves, all the while he is dreaming of opening up his own hotel.

In one of the movies scenes, Doug receives a small tip from a guest. What happens next is something that a Concierge would never do, no matter how small the tip! Doug actually hands back the tip while he says something along the lines that when the time is right, the guest will know how much to tip him. He is so confident about his services that he even says that “it will hurt.” Hurt, indeed it does, since the guest ends up financing the hotel that Doug has been dreaming about.

While this does not happen in real life either, or at least as far as we know, it is important to know that tips make up a significant part of a Concierge’s salary. Realizing this, the question that comes to mind to the affluent traveler is: how much is an appropriate tip? For restaurant employees it might be a bit easier to determine, between 15 – 25 % of the total bill. Bellmen make a few dollars per bag. A housekeeper about $ 5 per day for each room cleaned.

Server in Naples

Standard gratuity for good service is around 20 %, Photo by Andrew Kaufman.

But how much should you tip a Concierge who can get you a table in the most popular restaurant in town during a holiday weekend? Or a Concierge who is on hold for you with the airlines for about 45 minutes before there is finally an airline representative to talk to? Or a Concierge who walks your dog several times daily while you are filming a movie for three months on end? Or a Concierge who manages to bypass a one year wait list and obtains admission tickets to DaVinci’s Last Supper for your upcoming visit to Milan, in a week from now?

Since the services that a Concierge provides are so varied, the answer is of course, that it depends very much on the situation. We like to say that $5 for a regular restaurant reservation is appropriate. And that table in that top, impossible restaurant, at least $20 or up. Just remember that from all the guests that are staying in the hotel, the Concierge is offering you the last table that only he or she has been able to secure because of the relationship that has been built with the Maitre d’ over many years.

Anything else and out of the ordinary, might ask for a more generous tip. For example, organizing the tickets for Davinci’s Last Supper which involved countless details. The guest was very grateful for this out of the ordinary service and took very good care of us. We will leave this to your imagination, but for sure it was not a $ 5 tip and it was more than the cost of the actual tickets. Of course, it does not need to hurt, to quote Michael J. Fox, but always consider what it is worth to you and if you would have been able to complete this out of the ordinary request, all on your own, alone. Most likely not!


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