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What British tipping etiquette means for your business

Dominic Hopkinson
Dom Hopkinson
5 min read

What British tipping etiquette means for your business

As Brits emerge from a months-long lockdown and people finally experience the simple joy of a meal out, a drink with friends at a pub or bar or even a weekend brunch at a local café, how has the pandemic impacted our dining out and drinking culture?

We know about the impact on people’s flexibility, the importance of better communication and much has been written about the digital transformation of the hospitality sector, from COVID-safe check-ins to digital menus, the permanent use of delivery services, dark kitchens and the digital expectations of consumers.

But what does it mean for hospitality staff?

Planday has surveyed 2,000 Brits to see how COVID has changed their attitudes to tipping and offer some insight into what this can mean for your business.

So, let’s take a look at the results and what they mean for your business.

Brits are 13% more likely to tip now than they were pre-COVID

No matter where you are in the UK, hospitality consumers are 13% more likely to tip than they were pre-COVID. There are a range of reasons why, but for more than half (57%), it’s to show their appreciation for hospitality workers post-lockdown.

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As the world was catapulted into a life of home cooking, supplemented here and there with a local restaurant’s delivery service, many people saw for the first time just how special things are at a local hospitality venue, and want to appreciate it even more on the other side of lockdown.

Kevin Ryan, a Partnerships specialist who works closely with the hospitality sector at Planday, says this is welcomed news for the longevity of the unbeatable experiences the hospitality sector creates.

“Lockdowns show that the experience economy – whether it’s an outstanding restaurant, a cool bar, charming pub or amazing hotel experience – is something that just can’t be replicated at home,” Kevin says.

“It was no wonder stories from people in lockdown showed they are keen to eat and drink out again, and it’s brilliant that this research shows people are very happy to support it even more now that we can.”

Cash tips are on the decline

But in order to cash in on renewed generosity now hospitality businesses have reopened, operators must very quickly embrace digital tools for payment and tipping, the survey reveals.

28% of survey respondents said they would prefer to tip using a digital tool or QR code, for the reasons of speed, convenience and anonymity. Plus, for 37% of would-be tippers, the opportunity to leave a digital tip means there is less awkwardness in the interaction.

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The survey also reveals how deep Brits are willing to dig.

Half the respondents indicated they are likely to tip between 5-10%, with one in ten saying they would give between 10 and 20% of the bill. Visit Britain recommends a tip between 10 and 20%.

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Kevin says just like digital-first interactions are now the expectation of consumers, so too should digital tools to help your customers leave a tip if they feel like it.

“We know how important digital tools are to the whole hospitality experience, but consumers’ preferences show just how vital a digital tool at every touchpoint is post-COVID,” Kevin says.

“Not having the option to tip digitally means the many people who are looking to not only support your venue, but your staff on top of that, will miss out from increased appreciation and generosity post-lockdown.

“In terms of positive staff engagement and morale, making it easier for people to tip when they get good service is one of the best investments you can make.”

There’s more competition than ever for quality staff

Whether it ends up the summer of the staycation or tourism picks up again across the UK, Kevin says the market has changed dramatically for employers in the hospitality sector after lockdown.

“What we have seen in recent months is a real roaring back of job ads and opportunities in hospitality, which is just fantastic,” Kevin says.

“In fact, job postings in April 2021 were up 37% month on month for roles in the hospitality industry, and there was a huge 395% increase compared to the same month last year.

“But at the same time there are fewer people working in hospitality so the demand on hospitality employers to stand out from the crowd and keep quality staff is even harder.”

Kevin says – as well as making sure your business can take digital tips and your staff are acknowledged for the irreplaceable experiences they create – COVID has also changed what a quality employer looks like in hospitality.

He has three tips to help your business stand out.

Every great business needs a great team

“First, people want to work in a great team. Your business may not be an office, but a good culture and great people still make all the difference,” Kevin says.

“From team building efforts to a really welcoming and connected culture of people at work, it’s just as important as the digital expectations your staff have post-COVID. A good team culture is something to really cultivate, grow and always work on keeping. It’ll help keep your best people longer.

Invest in staff training and career development

“COVID-19 obviously made a lot of people reconsider their careers – and that’s not just something unique to service-based industries. The upside of this is there is a whole range of people who have decided hospitality is their future. This is a real asset and something you should harness and invest in,” Kevin says.

“It could be formalised training and career development or a real effort to mentor and encourage people. It is important to invest in the people who want to stay in your industry and keep them committed to helping you grow your business.”

Prioritise staff retention

“The labour shortage within the market means quality staff of yours are more likely to get poached or offers to other places than they were before the pandemic,” Kevin says.

“We all know the business case for investing in retaining good staff versus training new ones but now is the time to really focus on that and invest in the best asset your business has: your people.”

Ready to empower the people behind your great team?

Whether it’s flexibility, the ability to swap, drop and pick-up shifts or the overall business benefit of quality staff engagement, thousands of hospitality businesses like yours trust Planday to power their people. Find out why with a 30-day free trial.

Try it out today!

Sign up for a free 30-day trial. No credit card required.

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