A tip on how to get top service

New Zealanders resent tipping in restaurants because they don't want to look like big-noters but the practice makes it likely to secure silver spoon service, new research shows.

AUT senior lecturer in hospitality Marcus Pearson has completed research that shows high-end restaurants in Auckland believe tipping has helped improve their customer service. "Generally in a restaurant there's 25 to 30 per cent staff turnover – they didn't have those sorts of turnover figures. They paid a little bit more, the staff stayed longer, they became a bit more professional."

One restaurant manager interviewed for Pearson's research said tipping was an essential part of his business. "Tipping is extremely important to us, we place patrons in a good environment so it should happen. It's essential to keep good staff and promote good service."

In a Sunday Star-Times survey last year, 90 per cent of people said tipping for good service should not become the norm in New Zealand.

"Absolutely no way should tipping be encouraged. How we do it here is just fine. If someone provides exceptional service we still have the ability to say thank you in whatever way is appropriate – it doesn't need to be monetary and it shouldn't be expected," said one reader.

Pearson said non-tipping was part of our egalitarian culture. "New Zealand prides itself for not having a class system where one group in society has status and privilege over another." In other words, Kiwis are reluctant to tip because they don't want to look like they are showing off in front of their mates.

The research also shows restaurant managers were generally happy with tipping practices where extra money is given only for exceptional service. Pearson's research focused on high-end restaurants, where tipping was more likely.

Sunday Star Times