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Greetings from Emily! The effects of personalized greeting cards on tipping of hotel room attendants

I-Hsuan Shih (Department of International Tourism Management, Tamkang University, New Taipei City, Taiwan)
Tun-Min (Catherine) Jai (Hospitality and Retail Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock,Texas, USA)
Hsiangting Shatina Chen (Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Shane Blum (Hospitality and Retail Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 7 June 2019

Issue publication date: 4 September 2019




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.


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.


There were 3,285 room-nights tip records collected in this study. The results indicated that non-personalized 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.


This study contributes to understanding guest-tipping behavior in the hotel rooms.



The authors would also like to thank the Moody Foundation for the generous support of this research.


Shih, I.-H., Jai, T.-M.(C)., Chen, H.S. and Blum, S. (2019), "Greetings from Emily! The effects of personalized greeting cards on tipping of hotel room attendants", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 8, pp. 3058-3076.



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