Restaurant tipping behavior and its inspiration on food service empathy: a focus on two- and three-star hotels in Kenya

Simon Were (Nutritional Sciences-Hospitality and Institutional Management, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega, Kenya)
Moses Miricho (Hospitality and Tourism Management, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya)
Vincent Maranga (Hospitality and Tourism Management, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya)

International Hospitality Review

ISSN: 2516-8142

Article publication date: 19 January 2021

Issue publication date: 21 June 2021

2066

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to investigate restaurant clientele tipping behavior and its inspiration on foodservice empathy within two- and three-star hotels in Kisumu County, Kenya. This was with the objective of analyzing the tipping effect on restaurant food service quality with an emphasis on Parasuraman, Zeithmal and Barry's empathy as a key dimension of quality in accordance to the SERVQUAL model.

Design/methodology/approach

For the purpose of this study, food service empathy was investigated in relation to the influence of tipping on restaurant food service quality. Further, a census of all the two and three star-rated hotels within Kisumu County was carried out. The study applied descriptive research design in the investigation on the tipping behavior and its inspiration on foodservice empathy. Moreover, simple random sampling was employed in the selection of clients since it yielded a sample that is representative of the population. Additionally, the study employed the use of questionnaires for collection of data, which were coded, analyzed and presented in frequencies, tables and graphs.

Findings

The study findings reveal that there is a significant relationship between rewards upon perception of service and food service empathy but failed to find a significant relation between incentives for improved future service as well as the social norms and foodservice empathy. However, in general, the study established a significant relationship between tipping and foodservice empathy in the sampled hotels in Kenya. Thus, in summary, at 95% confidence level, the study concluded that there is a significant relationship between tipping and foodservice empathy.

Research limitations/implications

This study was restricted on two and three-star hotels within Kisumu County in Kenya with a sample size of 384 respondents, which would otherwise limit the degree to which the findings were applied. Consequently, the study sought to collect data from restaurant clients although the access and, therefore, direct interaction were denied by some of the hotels. Further, this study employed a survey approach in the collection of data from restaurant clients in two and three-star hotels. Accordingly, there was minimal local and regional research literature available on the study topic.

Practical implications

Tipping in the context of the broad global service industry, including hospitality's restaurant food service, is as old as Roman times. However, tipping is practiced differently across the world with some countries practicing while other countries not practicing the act of tipping. For that reason, tipping is not regulated in some of the countries including Kenya and therefore the lack of policy. Nonetheless, tipping is perceived to be the genesis of food service failures as a result of discriminatory restaurant food service in addition to increasing costs of eating out. This study therefore sought to investigate restaurant tipping behavior and its inspiration on foodservice empathy. The study results might be applied in policy formulation in order to curb the negative effect of tipping on food service empathy.

Originality/value

Minimal studies have been instituted and published in the area of tipping and service quality relationship with an emphasis on each of Parasuraman, Zeithmal and Berry's dimensions of quality. This research survey, therefore, sought to collect data from restaurant clients in two and three-star hotels within Kisumu County in Kenya and therefore investigated restaurant clientele tipping behavior and its inspiration on food service empathy.

Keywords

Citation

Were, S., Miricho, M. and Maranga, V. (2021), "Restaurant tipping behavior and its inspiration on food service empathy: a focus on two- and three-star hotels in Kenya", International Hospitality Review, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 57-69. https://doi.org/10.1108/IHR-07-2020-0026

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Simon Were, Moses Miricho and Vincent Maranga

License

Published in International Hospitality Review. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


1. Introduction

Tipping in hospitality business was meant to be an incentive (Musaba et al., 2014). In a view of the historical origin of tipping, it was the only compensation that food service personnel were entitled to, as this act is as old as Roman times, or since coins were used not only to compensate for services but also as a medium of exchange (Azer, 2010). Hitherto, it currently remains as a challenge to hotel managers as it is not only the genesis of discriminatory restaurant food service but also compromises the quality of food and beverage service to customers.

As a result, tipping is believed to be the genesis of the many food service failures and therefore was to be abolished in some countries of the world such as the United States (Azer, 2010; Lynn and McCall, 2000). Because there was a need for a replacement of tipping, it was decided through union negotiations in the 19th century to add service charge to restaurant bills, (Mohd et al., 2011; Mcenzie, 2016; Mohsen, 2011) and as a result, the tipping practice was abolished with the anticipation of solving the issues raised by the act. However, tipping bounced back in to practice and is still active in many countries of the world.

In regard to the tipping–food service empathy interaction, tipping may not be the only factor directly influencing food service quality within hospitality's restaurant business. Other factors such as human resource management as well as the country's fiscal policies affect performance of restaurant business, and tipping could only be a minor one (Boella and Goss-Tuner, 2013). Basing on this argument, attention should be collectively directed toward tipping and the other factors that are perceived to compromise food service quality and hence empathy such as human capital (Wu, 2013; Lin et al., 2015; Tan, 2002). This study therefore sought to investigate the restaurant tipping behavior and its inspiration on food service empathy in two and three-star hotels in Kenya.

2. Literature review

In the current age, tipping could be observed as having deciphered into a contemporary cultural practice collectively, although at varied levels of magnitude and feasibility. Therefore, the act of tipping is not just a recent surge, as it can be traced back from as early as the 16th century, specifically spreading from England to other parts of Europe and finally the rest of the world (Brewster, 2015). Nonetheless, some countries never adapted this act and as such maintained and still practice antitipping culture.

Therefore, the tipping act is neither wholesomely nor uniformly practiced across all countries, although it is common among citizens of some countries to subscribe to specific tipping norms that dictate on when, how and what to tip (Lynn and Brewster, 2015). According to Bigler and Hoaas (2016) and Margalioth et al. (2010), presently tipping is actively observed in the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and other European and African countries, while it is hardly practiced in Australia, China, Denmark, Japan and Iceland, as a result of higher minimum wages as well as antitipping culture (Wiles, 2015).

On the other hand, tipping varies even among countries that practice the act in terms of the magnitude of the tip in accordance to the tipping policies. In view of studies by Jacobs (2017), Lynn and Brewster (2015), Jeremy et al. (2014), Ala' a Nimer et al. (2012) and Jahan (2018), Lithuania, Slovenia, Romania and Russia advocate the norm of 5–10% tips whereas the same is conventional in India, Turkey, Austria and Argentina. In some countries such as Estonia, Slovakia, Columbia, Bulgaria, Uruguay and Cuba, a 10% tip is a standard custom while it varies between 10 and 15% for Serbia, Armenia, Egypt, Ukraine, Poland, Chile, Mexico and Canada. This varied tipping pattern may only be harmonized across the world through research on the topic so as to provide relevant data that can adequately inform policy and hence global standardization of the act of tipping.

Moreover, some countries such as Japan, South Korea, Georgia, Spain, Peru, Thailand and Kazakhstan, believe that tipping is a slur to the food and beverage service staff and therefore view tipping as a very unfamiliar exercise (Wiles, 2015). This is irrespective of whether the country is a high or low minimum wage awardee, and therefore contradicts the concept of higher minimum wages as the preferred solution to the negative effects of tipping on food service quality. As a result, tipping is neither esteemed nor practiced within the borders of such countries, and this custom trails along with citizens from such countries, so that they never give tips even when patronizing other countries (Wiles, 2015; Jacobs, 2015).

Focusing on the African continent, very little has been reviewed in the literature (Megan, 2017) with a particular focus on South Africa (Kruger and Saayman, 2016), Zimbabwe, (Charity and Kazembe, 2014) and Egypt (Jacobs, 2017; Lynn and Brewster, 2015; Jeremy et al., 2014; Abukhalifeh and Puad Mat, 2012; Jahan, 2018). Hitherto, specificity may only be traced in Egypt, within the entire African continent, which is reported to be observing a 10–15% tip as a standard custom (Jahan, 2018).

Narrowing down to East Africa and Kenya in particular, optional tipping is generally acceptable while at the same time service charge is mandatory as it is included in the final restaurant bills of guests (Concern Tourism, 2013; Clotildah, 2014). In consequence, tipping as well as service charge is accepted and practiced in Kenya. This could be a result of the absence of relevant data on the topic and therefore difficult for the country to make profound policy decision on the preferred compensation model, and hence allowing both in practice. Moreover, there currently lacks sufficient literature detailing the tipping act across the East African countries including Kenya, as very little in terms of research has been independently carried out and disseminated. As a result, tipping in Kenya may not in any way be on the basis of policies as there is a lack of the same to manage the act.

2.1 Restaurant tipping

Guests to private homes in Tudor England were expected to give tips to the footmen, valets and maids who offered outstanding service, but then at that particular time was branded as vails (Brewster, 2015). This act further developed into a norm not only within hospitality operations but also in the entire services industry and thus was adopted by many countries across the world in order to compensate hospitality practitioners as well as general service providers within the entire services industry.

According to Lynn and Brewster (2015), tipping is thought to be a social norm prescribing the customs of given people or society. Nonetheless, tipping may also be considered a reward upon perception of service and therefore an important motivating factor toward food service quality. Moreover, tipping is also an incentive for improved future service, in which hotel restaurant patrons make a lasting investment with the main aim of attracting excellent future food service quality. The assumptions by Azer (2010) lack statistical support, upon which such an argument may be solidly grounded, and thus leads to a myriad of gaps to be filled.

Since its origin in the 18th century and its widespread in practice within the hospitality industry, tipping developed into a custom involving numerous professions within the larger service industry and trillions of dollars globally (Lynn, 2017). In fact it is mandatory for hospitality industry clientele to tip in some countries of the world, as it is guided by social norms; although in other countries, the act of tipping is seldomly allowed. Tipping is normally practiced on cash basis as it is customarily carried out in the host country's currency, even though some other world currencies may also be acceptable. By assumption, the act of tipping triggers the psychology of both the restaurant clientele as well as the food server to offer quality service and therefore directly affecting service empathy (Megan, 2017; Lynn and Brewster, 2015). This, in turn, is expected to result in customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability (Parasuraman et al., 1988) which eventually promote business sustainability, even though these study findings need to be subjected to a confirmatory test through further rigorous research. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the clientele tipping behavior and its inspiration on restaurant food service empathy within two and three star hotels in Kenya.

3. Food service quality

For many years, product quality has been emphasized; thus, service quality is a new and, therefore, recent concept that has lately attracted the attention of global scholars (Kang and Jeffrey, 2004). In relation to available scholarly definitions, service quality refers to consumers' opinion of overall peculiarity and preeminence of restaurant services (Parasuraman et al., 1988). Thus, Nemer (2015) posits that service quality has largely remained an important subject of research across the globe, involving food service sector of the hospitality industry as well as the general hospitality services.

As noted by Lillicrap and Cousins (2014), Davis et al. (2012) and Foskett and Patricia (2011), food services are highly variable, thus the need for managers to have a concern over standardized quality not only in a particular restaurant but also across the entire but similar category of the hospitality organizations, which has become almost impossible as a result of tipping. Though many variables have relevance for restaurant tipping including food service quality, customer group size or service staff characteristics, all have been shown to influence the size of restaurant tips (Lynn, 2006). Tipping also depends on systemic variables, i.e. the policies regulating (or not regulating) and affecting service gratuities, which are lacking in Kenya (Gössling et al., 2020).

Suksutdhi (2014) conversely defines excellent service in reference to continuous, correctness and flexibility, which in contrast may still be compromised by the act of tipping. Nonetheless, Bodvarson and Gibson (2002) carried out studies on tipping behavior within the general services industry and developed an economic model in which the customer is said to tip according to service quality and hence service empathy.

3.1 Service empathy

In view of the studies on this subject, Service Quality (SERVQUAL) model by Parasuraman et al. (1988) was adopted and thus applied in this study on the basis of the five dimensions of quality including tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. The study was therefore interested in investigating the clientele tipping behavior and its inspiration on restaurant food service empathy within two- and three-star hotels in Kenya. Thus, food service empathy, one of the five dimensions of service quality, formed the dependent variable of the study.

Empathy is the ability of the food service staff to understand and share the feelings of restaurant customers. It is the act by the food service staff, putting himself/ herself in the customers’ shoes and seeing a problem from their point of view. In foodservice, customer service empathy is the ability to have a human interaction with a customer. In view of the spectacular restaurant customer service failures, it is evident that they involve lack of empathy. Empathy is therefore an important character trait among the five dimensions of service quality that are paramount in supporting the food service agents because they have to talk to many different kinds of customers every day and solve their problems, all the while making sure that they are representing the company in the best way possible.

Hospitality food service clients need to feel that they are prioritized by the restaurant food service organization (Al Rousan, 2011). It is, therefore, the duty of food service staff to ensure personalized service to the food service clients, thus customer satisfaction and retention which eventually leads to increased profits. This dimension is concerned with caring, paying personal or individualized attention to customers (Parasuraman et al., 1988) and providing food services to clients. This aspect of empathy as a dimension of food service quality was studied in relation to the influence of tipping in the application of personal initiatives by food service staff to fulfill customer requests, understand specific needs of customers, convenience in time allocation, customers' interests consideration, individualized attention to customers and application of extra efforts in special requests, and thus the resultant food service quality.

4. Identified literature gaps

According to Bodvarson and Gibson's (2002) study, a number of weaknesses may be identified in their study findings on tipping: First, there was observed restricted variations in mean percentages of tips across service quality rankings and therefore exposing the tipping, food service weaknesses, within the study findings. Second, service quality was measured using ordinal ranking scales which preclude valid statistical tests by the study. Third, the study employed multi-personal subjective questionnaires in the collection of data and fourth, the study concentrated on food service quality which comprises five dimensions; tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy without isolating and studying each of the dimensions.

Nonetheless, food service quality is a significant component when restaurant food service clienteles are deciding not only their tip size but also their tipping ability. Although social norms have been found to influence customers' tipping patterns, especially when the food server deliver substandard service, restaurant food service customers may abstain from the tipping exercise hence breaking the norm of tipping (Bodvarson and Gibson, 2002). Shamir (1983) though suggest that when a food service staff provides excellent service, he/she would receive tips in return.

In the view of literature, there is an overemphasis of the relations between tipping and food service quality or alternatively food service quality and tipping. However, there is scanty literature on the relations between tipping and any of the five dimensions of food service quality. This study therefore sought to fill the literature gaps by investigating the restaurant clientele tipping behavior and its inspiration on food service empathy in two- and three-star hotels in Kenya.

5. Materials and methods

Megan (2017) as well as Lynn and Brewster (2015) proposed tipping ideologies, philosophies and suppositions, which were adopted in the development of the conceptual framework of this study. In relation to the previous studies by Megan (2017), tipping is considered to be a reward upon perception of service as well as an incentive for improved future service. Further Lynn and Brewster (2015), on the other hand,considered tipping as a social norm while Parasuraman et al. (1988) are known to be the researchers behind the SERVQUAL model. Thus, tipping formed the independent variable of the study and thus was operationalized to generate three variables including rewards upon perception of service, incentives for improved future service and the social norms. Conversely, food service empathy formed the dependent variable and was operationalized on the basis of Parasuraman et al.'s (1988) five dimensions of the SERVQUAL model.

Notwithstanding the current literature on the subject of tipping behavior presents three dominating explanations on why tipping became apparent as articulated by Megan (2017) and Lynn and Sturman (2010), including tipping having developed in to a social norm in which patrons feel obligated to abide by. This variable was studied in relation to restaurant bill size as well as miscellaneous factors, which include alcohol consumption and weather conditions (Megan, 2017; Lynn and Sturman, 2010). Consequently, tipping was viewed by the study as an incentive for improved future service, which included tipping as enhancement of the employee income as well as on the basis of customer patronage frequency (Megan, 2017; Lynn and Sturman, 2010). Nonetheless, tipping was considered by the study as a reward upon perception of service performance; which encompassed tipping on the basis of customer dining experience as well as on the basis of food and beverage service levels and/ or standards (Megan, 2017; Lynn and Sturman, 2010).

The study therefore sought to collect data on the independent variable – tipping – through self-administered questionnaires with a sample size of 384 respondents. This section sought to excavate elementary information which was considered relevant on the tipping–food service empathy relation by focusing on investigating the tipping patterns in relation to the three constructs on tipping: reward upon perception of service, incentive for improved future service and as the social norm, which formed varied motives behind the tipping act. Thus, in total, seven predictors were covered by the questionnaire including dining experience, food service levels, enhancement of employee income, customer patronage frequency, bill size (percentage), customer alcohol consumption as well as weather conditions of the day. The seven predictor variables were assessed on the basis of a five point Likert scale of 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree and 5 = strongly disagree.

Further, the questionnaire sought to investigate food service quality with the main focus on food service empathy, which formed the dependent variable (DV) of the study. Under this variable, the questionnaire, on a five point Likert scale of 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree and 5 = strongly disagree, sought to find out from respondents by requesting them to rate how the various waiter attributes contributed to food service empathy on the basis of Parasuraman et al. (1988) SEVQUAL model.

This survey study applied descriptive research design for describing circumstances on the basis of respondents' responses and examining their relationships (Jeremy et al., 2014). Gall et al. (2007), concede that scientific disciplines, such as social sciences and psychology, apply this survey method in order to obtain a general overview of the subject, and therefore perfectly fits in its application in to this study. Moreover, the study design was ideal relative to its ability and relevance in fact finding to produce precise data (Kothari, 2010) on the relationship between restaurant tipping and food service empathy.

6. Results

The study sought to analyze preliminary data on the demographic factors of respondents on the tipping behavior and its inspiration on food service empathy. This was important in order to explain the pattern of restaurant clientele distribution and explain the relation between clients’ tipping behavior and food service empathy in two- and three-star hotels. Thus, the study sought to establish the nationality of respondents, and the results were presented as depicted in Figure 1.

The study results obtained indicate that respondents of African identity comprised the majority (73.23%), followed by European (12.64%), American (8.66%), Asian (5.05%) and the least Australian (0.36%). In accordance to these results therefore, there is more in-bound tourism in Africa as depicted by the nationalities of the respondents in this study. This could be as a result of the response of the citizens of African countries toward the call for domestic tourism and therefore awareness on the vast attractions within the continent. Further, many tourism attractions have special packages for in-bound tourists as compared to tourists from other continents of the world, thus a strategy to promote tourism within African nations.

According to McCall and Lynn (2009), Lynn and Thomas-Haysbert 2003, Lynn, 2014, Lynn and Williams (2012), Lynn et al. (2012), Asians, blacks and Hispanics are widely perceived to be poor tippers. However, studies on this subject are biased toward the US restaurant industry which might not be the same in other nations of the world. Following weaknesses in these studies in the United States, the study results should be applied with caution in the context of the Kenyan hotel tipping act. In addition, studies on this subject led to the assumptions that black restaurant patrons are perceived to be more likely than white patrons to tip a flat amount rather than a percentage of the bill (Margalioth et al., 2010). Additionally, blacks also leave smaller or sometimes no restaurant tips than whites (Megan, 2017).

Further, the study was interested in establishing respondents' level of agreement in relation to the attributes of food service empathy. Thus, on a scale of 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree and 5 = strongly disagree. Thus, in relation to the six attributes on food service empathy, the study gave results as presented in Table 1.

From the study results, 40.4% of respondents indicated they strongly agree that waiters' customer best interest at heart has an effect on food service empathy. Further, 56.0% of respondents indicated that they agree waiters' personal initiative in fulfilling requests has an effect on food service empathy.

Consequently, 4.3% of respondents indicated they disagree that waiters’ provision of individualized attention has an effect on food service empathy while 5.4% of respondents indicated they strongly disagree waiters’ extra efforts in handling specific customer requests have an effect on food service empathy.

Further, the study sought to investigate the respondents tipping behavior in relation to their nationality. Thus, a cross tabulation on respondents tipping behavior against their nationality was applied, and the results of the study were depicted as presented in Table 2.

From the study results, 62.8% of respondents were found to have given out tips. From these respondents, 44.4% were Africans, 9.0% were Europeans, 7.2% were Americans and 2.2% were Asians in that order. On the other hand, 37.2% of respondents did not give out tips, out of which 28.9% were Africans, 3.6% Europeans, 2.9% Asians, 1.4% Americans and 0.4% were Australians, respectively.

From the above analysis, the study was interested in finding out the influence of respondents' nationality on tipping. Thus, in order to investigate the influence of respondents' nationality on tipping, a chi-square test was applied on the respondents' nationality and tipping behavior, and the results of the study were presented as shown in Table 3.

The chi-square test gave a Pearson chi-square value of 9.944 and a significance of 0.041. The study gave results showing p = 0.041 < 0.05. Thus, from these results, the study established a statistical significant influence of respondents’ nationality on their tipping behavior (p < 0.05). Thus, the tipping behavior of respondents is dependent on the nationality of these respondents.

According to Lynn et al. (2015), Jeremy et al. (2014), Sum and Ala' a Nimer (2012) and Melia (2011), tipping behavior of respondents is guided by social norms which are nation specific. On the basis of respondents' nationalities and their tipping behavior, Russia, Romania, Slovenia and Lithuania uphold the norm of 5–10% tips whereas the same is conventional in Argentina, Austria, Turkey and India. In some countries such as Cuba, Uruguay, Bulgaria, Columbia, Slovakia and Estonia, a 10% tip is a usual norm while it varies between 10 −15% for Canada, Mexico, Chile, Poland, Ukraine, Egypt, Armenia and Serbia (Jacobs, 2017; Lynn et al., 2015; Jeremy et al., 2014; Sum and Ala' a Nimer; 2012 and Melia, 2011). In other European countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, France, Italy, Hungary and Greece, just rounding up the overall bill is adequate (Jahan, 2018).

However, in the United States, the expected hospitality's restaurant tip falls within the 5–20% norm (Lynn et al., 2015; Jeremy et al., 2014; Sum and Ala' a Nimer, 2012; Melia, 2011). Moreover, some countries such as Japan, South Korea, Georgia, Spain, Peru, Thailand and Kazakhstan believe that tipping is an insult not only to the food and beverage service staff but also to all service providers across the broad service industry (Wiles, 2015). Therefore, for this reason, tipping is considered a very unaccustomed exercise although these are countries in which minimum wage per hour is far much above the average.

The study further sought to establish the interaction between the independent variables: rewards upon perception of service, incentives for improved future service and the social norms of tipping. Thus, three way ANOVA was applied, and the results were presented as shown in Table 4.

From the results of the study on the interaction between rewards, incentives and norms, the results gave mean square of 1.629 and a significance of 0.140. Thus, the study results show there is no significant interaction between the three variables: rewards upon perception of service, incentives for improved future service as well as the social norms of tipping (p > 0.05).

In order to test the hypothesis, the study further sought to establish the relationship between restaurant tipping and food service empathy. Thus, multiple regression analysis was applied, and the results were presented as shown in Tables 5–7 below.

The model summary gave R value of 0.432 and R square value of 0.186. The R value shows that there is a moderate positive correlation between tipping and food service empathy (0.43), while the R square value shows that 18.6% of food service empathy can be explained by tipping while the rest is a result of other factors. Thus, tipping explains 18.6% of the food service empathy in the selected hotels in Kenya. From the results, tipping remains a significant denominator in the food service empathy of restaurant clients within two- and three-star hotels in Kenya. Thus, in practice, the application of tipping will lead to food service empathy and hence customer satisfaction.

On the other hand, the study gave a multiple regression ANOVA table presented as shown in Table 4. The study yielded results showing F value of 20.832 at three degrees of freedom and a significance of 0.000 (p-Value). The study results indicate there is a significant relation between tipping and food service empathy in two and three star-rated hotels in Kenya (p < 0.05). Thus, food service empathy is dependent on the tipping behavior of respondents in the sampled classified hotels. This therefore implies that increasing restaurant tipping would result in improved customer food service empathy in two and three star hotels in Kenya.

Finally, the study yielded a multiple regression coefficient table which was presented as shown in Table 7. The coefficient table gave p values; rewards upon perception of service p = 0.000 < 0.05), incentives for improved future service (p = 0.35 > 0.05) and the social norms of tipping (p = 0.369 > 0.05), respectively. From the study results, there is a significant relation between rewards upon perception of service and food service empathy (p < 0.05). However, the study results indicate that there is no significant relation between incentive for improved future service as well as the social norms of tipping and food service empathy (p > 0.05). Thus, the study found a relationship between rewards upon perception of service and food service empathy but failed to find a significant relation between incentives for improved future service as well as the social norms and food service empathy. However, in general, the study established a significant relation between tipping and food service empathy in the sampled hotels in Kenya (p = 0.000 < 0.05). Thus, in summary, at 95% confidence level, the study rejected the null hypothesis and concluded that there is a significant relationship between tipping and food service empathy in two- and three-star hotels in Kenya. Thus, food service empathy was found to be dependent on respondents tipping behavior in two- and three-star hotels in Kenya.

7. Conclusion

The study sought to establish the relationship between restaurant tipping and food service empathy. From the study results, majority of respondents were found to be Africans. Consequently, the study established that majority of respondents were found to have given out tips. The study further found that tipping behavior is dependent on the nationality of respondents within two- and three-star hotels in Kenya. Further, the multiple regression results indicate that restaurant tipping explains 18.6% of food service empathy in two and three star hotels, while the rest is by other factors outside the scope of this study. Although this seems a narrow margin but still significant in the tipping–food service empathy relationship under investigation.

In order to establish the interaction between the independent variables, the study investigated three variables such as rewards upon perception of service, incentives for improved future service and the social norms of tipping but no significant interaction was found between the three variables (p > 0.05). An investigation on the relationship between restaurant tipping and food service empathy gave a significant relationship between rewards upon perception of service and food service empathy but failed to find a significant relation between incentives for improved future service as well as the social norms and food service empathy. However, in general, the study established a significant relation between tipping and food service empathy thus implying that food service empathy is dependent on tipping.

Figures

Respondents’ nationality

Figure 1

Respondents’ nationality

Respondent level of agreement on the attributes of empathy

VariableStrongly agreeAgreeNeither agree nor disagreeDisagreeStrongly disagree
Personal initiatives in fulfilling requests30.0%56.0%7.9%2.5%3.6%
Customer best interest at heart40.4%46.6%6.9%2.9%3.2%
Considerate of customer specific need37.9%48.0%7.9%2.5%3.6%
Provision of individualized attention32.1%50.5%9.0%4.3%4.0%
Extra efforts in handling specific requests33.2%48.0%10.1%3.2%5.4%
Sufficient time with customers36.8%44.8%10.5%4.0%4.0%

Respondents’ cross tabulation between tipping behavior and nationality

NationalityTotal
AfricanAmericaAsianEuropeAustralia
TIPPEDYesCount123206250174
% of total44.47.22.29.00.062.8
NoCount8048101103
% of total28.91.42.93.60.437.2
TotalCount2032414351277
% of total73.38.75.112.60.4100.0

Respondents’ chi-square test on influence of nationality on tipping behavior

ValuedfAsymp. Sig. (2-Sided)
Pearson chi-square9.944a40.041
Likelihood ratio10.73340.030
Linear-by-linear association0.46310.496
N of valid cases277

Three way ANOVA table on rewards * incentives * norms interaction

Dependent variable: EMPATHY: Tests of between-subjects effects
SourceType III sum of squaresdfMean squareFSig
Corrected model105.397a492.1514.8070.000
Intercept326.0691326.069728.7310.000
Rewards15.45943.8658.6380.000
Incentives9.64242.4115.3870.000
Norms4.09941.0252.2900.061
Rewards * Incentives5.20190.5781.2910.242
Rewards * Norms16.202101.6203.6210.000
Incentives * Norms6.55680.8191.8310.072
Rewards * Incentives * Norms4.37460.7291.6290.140
Error101.5712270.447
Total1303.000277
Corrected Total206.968276

Respondents’ multiple regression model summary

ModelRR squareAdjusted R squareStd. error of the estimate
10.432a0.1860.1770.785

Note(s): a. Predictors: (Constant), NORMS, REWARDS and INCENTIVES

Respondents’ multiple regression ANOVA table

ModelSum of squaresdfMean squareFSig
1Regression38.554312.85120.8320.000b
Residual168.4142730.617
Total206.968276

Note(s): a. Dependent variable: EMPATHY

b. Predictors: (Constant), NORMS, REWARDS and INCENTIVES

Respondents’ multiple regression coefficients table

ModelUnstandardized coefficientsStandardized coefficientstSig
BStd. ErrorBeta
1(Constant)1.1230.135 8.3230.000
Rewards0.3130.0630.3514.9660.000
Incentives0.0690.0740.0710.9340.351
Norms0.0490.0540.0600.8990.369

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Further reading

Liat, Mansori, Chuan and Imrie (2017), “Hotel service recovery and service quality: influences of corporate image and generational differences between customer satisfaction and loyalty”, Journal of Global Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 19-42.

Corresponding author

Simon Were be contacted at: sokwachi@mmust.ac.ke

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