The CEO’s Guide to Tipping Etiquette

For the conscientious traveller, a quick guide to the appropriate context and expense of tipping in a variety of nations.

When you travel a great deal for business it can be hard to keep track of the exact etiquette when it comes to who you have to tip and how much will be a generous gratuity. Even when restaurants add it to the bill automatically there may also be situations when it’s appropriate to give a little something to your waiter or waitress. Then there’s the whole question of how much to tip drivers, porters and all those other people who work hard to make your trip go more smoothly.

Here’s a by-no-means-exhaustive guide to some of the places that you’re most likely to visit on business.

The US

Of all the countries in the world, the US is probably the one where the tipping culture is most strongly ingrained. Because pay tends to be low in the hospitality and leisure industries, the people actually providing the service rely on tips to give them a living wage. So bartenders expect a $1 to $2 tip with each drink they serve. In restaurants 15% is the minimum but, for exceptional service, 25% is not unusual. Obviously, cash tips are preferred, but if you’re paying by business credit card, remember to make sure that you can add your tip along with the payment for the rest of the bill.

Australia and New Zealand

If your business takes you to Australasia you’ll find the same customs apply across Australia and New Zealand. For waiting staff in restaurants, a 10% to 15% tip is standard. For hotel porters, it’s $1 per bag and if the concierge arranges favours like trips round the city or securing a restaurant reservation then $10 is the expected amount.


Generally speaking, China has a no-tipping culture as workers are expected to survive on their basic salaries. But it’s also important to be aware that there are some situations in which a small “thank you” is very much welcomed. For example, if you’re staying in a luxury. Western-style hotel the porter should be given 5 RMB per bag and the more upmarket restaurants will automatically add between 10% and 15% to your bill.


In a similar vein to China, tipping is almost completely unnecessary in Japan, and is even considered insulting by many. Service staff are likely to turn down any tips they are offered, unless they feel that they might offend you by doing so. The only circumstance where this is generally acceptable is when thanking staff at a tour company – and even then, it is recommended that you do not take the money from your wallet or pocket, but present it in an envelope with both hands and your head inclined.


In Dubai, 10% is added automatically to all bills in some hotels, restaurants and bars where the money is equally divided amongst the staff. You’re also free to add a few dirhams if the service has been good. For parking valets and hotel porters 10 dirhams is the standard amount. Taxi drivers don’t expect a tip, but if you round the fare up to the nearest 5 dirhams it will be most appreciated.


As you’d expect, Germany is quite straightforward. Just add 10-15% to your restaurant or bar bill, two euros for each bag a porter carries for you and ten euros for the hotel concierge.

So, hopefully, this has given you a quick guide to the finer points of sharing gratuities. And, when in doubt, remember that it’s always better to tip than not as it can always be politely declined if it’s not appropriate.

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