One time, I had a client ask me what would be an appropriate amount to tip for a massage. I took some time discussing the appropriate etiquette a person should use when deciding on how much to give their masseuse for a tip, which led me to write this excerpt to help others who may be baffled about where to begin when it comes to tipping for a massage.
It’s important to know that masseuse tips are not a requirement. However, it can be an expression of your appreciation for a massage that was highly satisfactory or produced results way above your expectations. It is common practice for a masseuse to work on commission—meaning they only get a specified percentage of the massage fee. Because they are not hourly or salaried employees, keeping your scheduled appointments and giving ample time to cancel your appointments (so the massage therapist can get a replacement client) is very important.
Because of the rise of social media massage discounts, the typical tipping amount has drastically changed. The Nest magazine (Winter 2008) states that the typical tipping rate is 15-20% of the total massage fee. Even if you buy your massage through social media via companies like Living Social (or Groupons), you should still offer 15-20% of the actual massage price. Keep in mind that your discounted rate also means a lesser commission rate for your massage therapist.
Because of the financial strain of the holiday season, a first time massage client should at least offer a tip that is 30-40% of the actual price. If you are a masseuse’s regular customer, then you should feel comfortable with tipping between 50-100% of the regular price.
Hopefully, you won’t have the experience of having an unsatisfactory massage. Massages are a personal experience. Sometimes, a massage might not be to your satisfaction despite the massage therapist’s best attempt. Maybe the therapist put too much or too little pressure in certain areas, or maybe there was some other problem that made the experience unsatisfactory. Before getting judgmental, you might want to ask yourself whether you properly communicated exactly what you wanted to get out of your massage. Then, if your massage is unsatisfactory after that, then you have a right to discuss your dissatisfaction with the therapist. Who knows? Your experience may help this therapist become a better therapist for the next person, and it may make it worth your while to get another massage from this therapist to see if your suggestions enhanced the results. Suggestions for improvement are more ethical and beneficial than leaving a poor tip to express dissatisfaction.
When deciding what to leave as a tip for your massage therapist, keep in mind that he or she works on commission. Make sure your tips are the acceptable percentage of the regular price and double that percentage during holiday seasons. Remember it is always better to openly share what made your experience unsatisfactory than to leave an improper tip.
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