Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where Is My Tip?

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Cash may be increasingly rare as a method of payment in most transactions, but tipping remains one of those areas where it's still often the standard. Therein lies a problem for international travellers, who must juggle multiple currencies; Where's My Tip, however, aims to offer a solution.

Wait staff and bartenders should always be tipped directly on the bill, Where's My Tip stresses. Rather, it's focusing its cashless alternative on travellers who need to tip doormen, bellhops, housekeepers, valets and concierges. How it works? Users begin by paying an annual USD 100 membership fee, which entitles them to 100 free tip cards—additional ones are 50 cents each. Then, when they travel, they can hand out those cards instead of cash. Each card features a unique member ID number, which can be used by the recipient to request a tip online; there, they enter their name and Paypal email address as well as a suggested tip amount. Once that happens, Where's My Tip emails the tip request to the member, who can pay the requested (or other) amount with a credit card or Paypal account. Where's My Tip then forwards the funds to the person who requested the tip. All tips and tip requests are reviewed, routed and processed by hand to keep unwarranted tip requests to a minimum; at the same time, all members must maintain an extremely high ratio of tips paid to tips requested to ensure they don't hand out cards as a way to avoid paying a tip. Membership in Florida-based Where’s My Tip is currently by invitation only.

Paypal may not be many service-givers' first preference as a form of payment, but Where's My Tip says it's working on alternatives. At the same time, there's no denying the appeal of cashless tipping, particularly for international travellers short on local currency and unfamiliar with regional tipping norms. How about creating a brandable version that hotels can give guests for in-house or local tipping, with payments simply added to the final tab...?

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