Purpose – In hotels, room attendants are often invisible to hotel guests. This study aims to understand how customers would increase their voluntary tips when there was less or no personal interaction and communication between customers and service providers. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to investigate whether providing different greeting cards in hotel rooms would affect hotel guest tipping behavior.
Design/methodology/approach – A field study was conducted in an upscale independent hotel. Four
types of greeting cards through two personalized factors, perceived effort and personalization, were placed in the hotel rooms. The tipping amount for each room-night was recorded during the data collection.
Findings – There were 3,285 room-nights tip records collected in this study. The results indicated that nonpersonalized housekeeping greeting cards did not increase the likelihood of guests to tip, but they may
increase the average tipping amount; the personalization of greeting cards from room attendants had positive effects on guest tipping behavior; the hand-written greeting card and name-introduction greeting card were predictors that can significantly increase the likelihood of hotel guests to tip.
Research limitations/implications – The empirical research results support social presence theory.
With more consistent tipping in hotel rooms, attendants may be able to predict tips through their job performance; thus, creating a win-win in the lodging industry.
Originality/value – This study contributes to understanding guest-tipping behavior in the hotel rooms.
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 31(8), p.3058-3076