Here’s a special guest post from Kenny Chan, my partner on my last trip to Vegas, stylish traveller, and excellent tipper. Our trip was definitely made better by applying some of these simple principles — Vegas is a town that loves money, and people who know how to show their appreciation for a favour or a job well done.
Whenever travelling, it’s always good to understand the social customs of the place you’re visiting. Las Vegas is no exception. It may be in the United States but it definitely has its own unique service-based culture and generally accepted practices. One of those practices is the art of tipping.
While it’s true that tipping is not mandatory, you should always tip anyone in Vegas who provides any form of service to you. Why? Because it’s not only good etiquette but it also almost guarantees better service. And if you want to party like a rockstar or live luxuriously while in Vegas, tipping can be (and pardon the pun) the tipping point from feeling like a vacationer to feeling like a VIP.
Here are some of my top tips for tipping in Vegas:
1. Tip Well: In Toronto, most people will tip a dollar or two for housekeeping, etc. In some cases (like in restaurants) they’ll tip 15 – 20% of their bill. In Vegas, however, be prepared to tip more than you typically would. If you’re unsure what to tip, stick with a fiver in most instances for every task that’s done for you. In a restaurant, your minimum should be 20%.
2. Tip Everyone: And I’m serious about this. When in doubt whether you should or shouldn’t tip, do it anyway. Most people in the service industry rely on gratuities to subsidize their incomes. Did a bellboy carry your luggage to your room? Tip him. Did a casino waitress give you a free drink? Tip her. (Tip high the first drink and she’ll take care of you the rest of your stay. In more upscale casinos, at least $1 per drink will be expected. Chips are fine! – N&G) Did a valet get you a taxi? Tip him! Did housekeeping clean your room? Leave them a tip! Did a police officer take off your handcuffs? Tip him – actually, scratch that. I don’t think it’s appropriate to tip law enforcement officers in this instance…
3. Tip for $ervice: If you want to be treated exceptionally well, be sure to tip before receiving that service. For example, want to make sure your luggage is handled with extra care? Tip the bellboy or valet when they take your luggage. Want to get VIP treatment at a club, lounge, or restaurant? Tip the promoter/host(ess) when you arrive. Remember – you can have it all in Vegas… it’s just going to cost you something. (And you may get better treatment depending on what you’re willing to tip… a $50 may go further than a $20 in some situations. – N)
4. Tip Casino Dealers via the Table: This is a must. Particularly when they show extraordinary patience while you’re learning how to play Pai Gow Poker. (Thanks to Perry, Joyce, and the others at Binion’s, and Laura & the Aria dealers! – N) Do not hand your tip to them directly. The proper way to tip a casino dealer is to put your casino chip or cash on the table and to tell them that it is for them.
5. Budget for Gratuities: When you’re setting up your travel budget, put a line item in for gratuities and tips. You can certainly plan for some tips like limos, housekeeping, valets, concierge, etc. For other things like restaurants and clubbing, just build the gratuities into your budgets for those activities.
BONUS TIP. Keep Small Bills Handy: You never know when you’re going to be tipping in Vegas so keep your ones and fives easily accessible in one pocket and your bigger bills in another pocket.
(Our lovely room view… wonder how we woke up to the mountains each day? – N)
Some people think tipping is simply a way to show that you’re not cheap and that you have money to throw around. I disagree with this opinion. So much so that I recently tipped a Walmart employee for finding me a shopping basket. At the end of the day, tipping is about saying thank you. It’s about manners and etiquette. If you choose to not tip, you’re simply being rude and unappreciative. To NOT tip is to essentially say, “You provided poor service.” So don’t be a classless douche when visiting Vegas. Learn the cultural language of tipping and practice saying thank you often.