Tipping anywhere, especially in Las Vegas, can be awkward. How do you know what’s an appropriate gratuity? And who should get a tip?
It’s “kind of a personal thing” based on the service (good or bad) you receive, said Bill Werner, an associate professor at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In a city where resort fees add as much as $45 a day to your hotel tab, visitors may be hard-pressed to know whom and how much to tip.
As tipping goes, Maine residents and visitors appear to be the most generous in the country, averaging more than 19% per tip, a 2018 report says. Nevada, home to Las Vegas, one of the most-visited places in the U.S., averaged almost 17% per tip.
Experts offer these guidelines, along with the suggestion to make sure to have cash on hand.
▶ Bartender (and cocktail server): $1 to $2 is suggested for those who serve free drinks to casino players. In regard to actual bars, Best of Vegas says: “The old dollar-a-drink logic is outdated. Tip 20% ... especially if you ordered a labor-intensive craft cocktail.”
▶ Bellman: $1 to 3 per bag is the norm. That said, Culinary Union Local 226, which represents 60,000 hospitality workers in Vegas, suggests tipping $5 for each heavy bag.
▶ Banquet and buffet servers: 10%.
▶ Concierge: A tip isn’t necessary to get pointed in the right direction, but “Tips on Tipping,” compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, suggests "$2 to $5 for getting a dinner reservation [and] $5 to $10 for show tickets.” Put more in the concierge’s hand for snagging a hard-to-get seat.
▶ Food server: 20% of the bill.
▶ Housekeeper: These workers are most likely to get stiffed when it comes to tipping, Werner says. “A rule of thumb is to tip $2 to $3 per night, or more if you’re particularly messy, have kids, or more than two people in the room,” the Las Vegas Advisor writes in a FAQ on tipping.
“Your room is the sanctuary where you’ll recover from your hangover; respect must be paid,” Best of Vegas says. “Tip housekeepers $1 to 2 per day, more if you’re staying in a suite, and much, much more if you trashed that suite.”
▶ Restroom attendant: “Tips on Tipping” says: “After they hand you a paper towel, throw a dollar or two their way, especially if you needed to snag a mint or bobby pin.”
▶ Shuttle driver: $1 to $2 per person, or $4 to $5 per party.
▶ Sommelier: “Show these professionals your appreciation by offering a tip of 10% to 20%,” but only if the gratuity isn’t already included on the bill, “Tips on Tipping” says.
▶ Tour guide: The advice is $20 for a short trip, such as a helicopter ride over the Strip, but 10% to 20% for longer tours, such as those to the Grand Canyon.
▶ Valet parking attendant: “The tips have gone down, most valet parkers will tell you, at least 50% and probably more,” said Werner. “People [who] pay $18 to $20 for parking say, ‘That’s enough. It’s already too much to charge anyway. This isn’t Manhattan. There’s lots of parking here.’”
Werner said most valet workers, some of whom are his students, make minimum wage, so they heavily rely on tips to make ends meet.
“Valet parking used to be a very attractive job here because the only qualification is a driver’s license,” he says. “They were making upwards of $80,000 a year in tips at the higher-end hotels.”
The consensus among the experts: Paying for parking is not a justification for stiffing the person who delivers your car. Plan to fork over at least $3.
“The Best and Worst States to be a Tipped Worker” ranked each state from best to worst by its average tip and minimum wage. Nevada came in 15th, while California ranked 12th.