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The perceptions of waiters and customers on restaurant tipping

Chu‐Mei Liu (Hsin Sheng College of Medical Care and Management, Pingzhen City, Taiwan)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to see whether people who serve and people who receive service in restaurants are aware of the factors that researchers and restaurant professionals believe affect the size of tips.


The research comprises two studies. Study 1 focuses on waiters – an anonymous questionnaire was used. Study 2 was designed to assess the attitudes and beliefs of customers about the same variables that waiters had earlier reported on.


The findings confirmed a number of hypotheses. Respondents claim that they themselves tip more than most people. Results indicate that waiters‐customers were more generous tippers and were more accurate in the bill than customers. Although waiters and customers share many beliefs about tipping, waiters may be more aware than customers of the relevant characteristics of the situation and of the individual involved.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research is needed to help managers to identify dissatisfied customers by training to watch customers and read customers' non‐verbal signals of dissatisfaction. The study may be a useful approach to studying other occupations as well.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that management should not rely on tips as the only motivation for service, and as an indicator of waiters' performance and level of customers' satisfaction.


This current effort was undertaken using the new dyad, non‐waiter customer versus waiter‐customer, to capture the effect of experience and understanding of the waiters' role in the tipping process.



Liu, C. (2008), "The perceptions of waiters and customers on restaurant tipping", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 95-103.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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