Artful Touch Massage & Wellness Center

Is Gratuity Acceptable?

My canned answer to this common questions is: “Tips are always appreciated but not always necessary.” Whether a tip is expected or not depends on two variables: 1) the massage atmosphere, and 2) the massage therapist. Generally speaking, most massage therapists ACCEPT tips.

The Massage Atmosphere

Tips are usually EXPECTED in the fields of hospitality and recreational services. Here’s the reason behind this expectation: whether or not the massage therapist is duly compensated hourly, it is proper to tip your cosmetologist, esthetician, or nail technician. By working in the same atmosphere, the massage therapist does not want to discourage clients from tipping the other employees at a salon, day spa, or hotel (All of whom usually work on commission or pay large booth rental fees). So if your therapist works at a salon-, hotel-, or day spa-like atmosphere, a tip is probably in order. Tipping is more than a means of expressing “Job well-done!” It may be a necessary part of the income of an employee in the service industry. A massage therapist may be paid enough by his or her employer that he or she is not dependent on tips, but please don’t assume this is the case. While you may think that it costs you a lot of money to get a massage, it may be that the therapist is only making 15-20% commission before tips and taxes. In these cases, tips are a large and very-much-appreciated segment of his or her income.

In the medical, health, and wellness fields, tipping depends on circumstances. Massage therapists who work at hospitals, doctors’ offices, chiropractic offices, and wellness clinics have varying methods of billing and payment receipt, which may include various laws, legislation or negotiation with insurance companies. They may pay rent and work as a subcontractor, work on commission, receive a set hourly wage, or receive a salary. There may be a system for tipping that is arranged by the office by which they are employed.

For the massage therapists who work independently or that are self-employed, it is best to simply ask. Most accept tips, but not all agree with the practice. Some believe they are well-compensated by the rate they charge. Others may offer a lower hourly rate but are more dependent on tips. It is perfectly acceptable to ask any massage therapist if they accept tips.

The Massage Therapist

The moral of the story is: ask your massage therapist or kindly offer a tip. When asking your therapist, what should you say? You want to make sure you show the proper appreciation; no one wants to offend their therapist. But you don’t want to pay more than what is expected, right? Simply kindly ask, either at checkout time or after the massage session, something like, “Do you accept tips?,” or, “If I give you a tip, do you have to split it?” This gives the therapist an opportunity to accept and thank you or to kindly decline the offer.

How much do you tip? Simply tip the customary amount for the hospitality field, much the same way you would tip your waiter at a restaurant. The current tipping rate is 15-25% of the full-priced bill in most areas of the US. If you are afraid of the math, most modern cellular phones have a tip calculator for you.