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The Travel Factory employs 4 full time agents with 100 years total experience in the travel industry. Our agents specialize in cruise, tour and resort vacations as well as corporate incentive and school groups. Our mission is to provide the best, most courteous, most detailed, most informative service. Our slogan, "Building vacations to your specifications" says it all.

Help With Tipping Those Great Service Providers

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I don't know whether other travel agents in Abilene get this publication or not, but I get a weekly “tip” sheet for travel agents from The Travel Institute. That is an accredited institution that certifies travel agents after going through an educational process. It took me two years to get my Certified Travel Counselor designation back in 1985, and I'm proud to say that I am the only CTC that has ever been based in Abilene, TX.

You probably didn't need to know all that introductory information, but that's the background to my “tip” today. That institution produces a weekly “Hot Tip” for certified agents, and occasionally I choose to use some of their suggestions. Today is one of those days. Their tip today addresses a guide for tipping those service personnel who attend to your needs while traveling....who do you tip, when and how much?

At airports, if a shuttle driver has helped with your luggage, I usually tip them a buck or two per bag for their trouble in my behalf. Same thing for the guy who checks us and our luggage in at the curbside check-in counter. If you employ an airport skycap to assist with wheelchair assistance, then a minimum of $5 should be your guide.

If you use a taxi to go to the hotel, then a good guideline for the driver should be around 15-20% of the fare. If you drive your own car and use valet service, tip when they return the car for your departure from $2-$5.

What about the hotel bellhop? Well, again, the suggestion has always been $2-$3 a bag if they are delivering it to your room. If you've requested special service for a pillow or more bed covering, etc. then again, $3-$5. What about the hotel concierge? Depends on what kind of service they are providing.....restaurant suggestions, theatre, or club requests....that should be worth $5-$10, and if it was an excellent, outstanding, over-the-top experience, tip him again when you return. That would really get his/her attention for when you made another request. Hotel maid??? Well, in this day and time, the suggestion is $2-$5 a day. It is a good idea to make this move on a daily basis because there might be a different maid each day. Room service would also be in order for a tip of a few dollars when they deliver the “goods”.

How does one tip when on a cruise? Tipping on cruises is a different ballgame than it was 10-15 years ago. Nowadays, the cruise line will automatically add a tip to your room account each day, and if you don't want to pay that much, or want to pay more, you have to make those arrangements at the Customer Service Desk on-board. Generally the charge is $14.95 per person per day. Those monies are divided between the cabin stewards, the table waiters and assistant waiters in the main dining room as well as those in the buffet.

If you purchase a soft drink or alcohol drink from one of the many bars available to you, then you can expect at least a 15% tip to automatically appear on the charge to your room account. You can purchase a beverage package, and the tax and tip will also appear on your room account. Also expect a 15-20% uptick on your spa treatment while on a cruise, and if you take a shore excursion, then the guide will expect a $4-$5 tip for half a day; double that for a full day.

If you were wonderin', hope this helps. If not, thanks for listening and reading to this information brought to you by friendly and quite experienced travel agents at The Travel Factory, 4150 Southwest Drive. Call us at 698-1421 or see our web site: www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com.

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