The act of tipping is a fascinating phenomenon.
As consumers, we are trained over time to provide
a tip for not only good service, but service in
general, depending on the setting. Ever been to a
decent-size hotel in a city and need a cab? Have
some singles ready. Here's a sample of professions or
settings and what their traditional tipping status is:
It seems like more and more places and professions
accept tips. Even more than accept, they seem to appreciate
and even encourage tips.
What about massage therapy? Massage therapy lives in a
few different worlds—health care, pampering, personal service,
essential part of wellness. How do consumers know how to treat
therapists when the profession as a whole isn't sure where
Regarding tipping, massage falls in to the "it depends"
column. It is truly contingent on the setting and the expectation
or policy set forth by the therapist or the facility where the
massage is provided.
You normally don't see tipping in a medical setting. If you
are fortunate enough to receive massage therapy in a hospital
setting, you should not expect to need to provide a tip. Beyond
that, most massage therapy settings welcome tipping. In fact,
many employment environments actually rely on gratuities
as a critical compensation element for their therapists.
What About a Tip?
What Do Therapists Expect? What Should You Do?
By Les Sweeney, BCTMB
For more information on general tipping
advice, check out these resources:
• The Emily Post Institute: www.emilypost.com/advice/general-tipping-guide/
• Real Simple: www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/money-etiquette/
• CNN: www.cnn.com/2015/03/02/travel/experts-guide-to-tipping-in-the-
How do therapists feel about tipping? Most therapists accept
tips, and an important consideration to take into account
is the effort required to provide a professional massage.
One saying I like to repeat is, "There are no shortcuts in
massage." An hour massage is just that—an hour's worth of
bliss for you is an hour's worth of work for your therapist.
Massage therapy is heart work; your therapist isn't
chasing a buck, but rather engaging in a vocation that
feeds his or her soul, in addition to hopefully paying the
rent. Massage therapy can be a 40-hour week, but is almost
never 40 hours of just session work—it's simply too difficult
to do at that frequency. The busiest massage therapists
may perform 25–30 hours a week of session work. As a
result, income potential reaches a limit, and gratuities can
be a valuable element of a therapist's compensation.
From my own perspective, I tend to view tipping—
whether for massage or dining or taxi rides—as a thank-you
for the effort. It does not have to be outstanding service,
but if it is, I go big. A tip is a way of saying, "Thank you."
For a massage, that thank-you starts at 15 percent.
Les Sweeney, BCTMB, is president of Associated Bodywork & Massage
Professionals. Contact him at email@example.com.
Tip No Tip
Taxi driver Dry Cleaner