So why would you tip an event professional? As a token of appreciation for a job well done or for providing exemplary service that went above and beyond what was called for in the contract.
Every professional I've ever talked to about this subject for over a decade has said that tips are never expected, but mean a lot when they do receive them because it means they did they did their job well, and their their efforts were noticed and appreciated.
I'll be the first to admit that tipping anywhere other then a restaurant can often be confusing. So when you're trying to figure out what to tip an event professional here are a few suggestion you might find helpful:
1. Word of mouth recommendations of their products or services to other people you know who are planning a similar event.
2. A heartfelt thank you note or card, especially when hand written may be a better option then a modest cash tip. Nobody should ever feel obligated to give more then they can afford, but it may be worth it to note that a small dollar amount for a cash tip may accidentally be misunderstood as a sign of dissatisfaction, similar to under tipping at a restaurant.
3. Offer to write a post for them in your blog if you have one. A well deserved rave is always appreciated, especially if it includes a link to their website.
4. If your toasts are going to be short, acknowledging them by name during the toasts as a thank you would be a wonderful surprise to most professionals.
More traditional ideas of course include cash or a gift. I know a few people who have received tips of a thousand dollars or more. One was offered free limo service to and from the airport for a year. Sweet! Others were treated to dinners, trips and tickets to shows. One colleague told me they once received a $1000 gift certificate to Gucci. Gotta love that!
Things to avoid:
1. Street drugs. LOL
2. Re-gifted items, especially gift cards or certificates to specialty stores that may not be of any interest to the recipient.. If you feel your vendor sincerely gave you 100% of their attention and expertise? Why not do the same when choosing an appropriate way to express your gratitude?
One vendor I know once received a $25 gift certificate to Casa De Fruta that required a 100 mile round trip to redeem. I'm sure some would have found such a gift less then ideal. But being a good sport the recipient thought it was a great and made the 2 hour trek down to Hollister and back to San Jose for some dried fruits and nuts. A few years ago I can see where it might not have been a big deal. With today's gas prices? Proximity to redeeming a gift certificate might be worth some consideration. LOL
Tipping an event professional isn't like tipping a waiter or waitress. It's not a set percentage expected after each event. After taking a poll amongst some of my industry colleagues it would seem that tipping is a very fluid gesture that knows no boundaries. While some professionals receive tips 80% to 90% of the time, others receive them as infrequently as 10% of the time.
Personally I've had clients that surprised me with a tip or gift in the past and it didn't matter if it was a thank you note with a photo from the wedding, a box of chocolates (they'd read my blog lol), a plant for my garden, or cash. I was always kind of surprised, because as an accessory designer I would fall into the less then 10% of the time category. Over the years I've had several clients who invited me to their weddings as a guest. That meant a lot. The gesture always reaffirmed that I'd done a good job and my efforts were appreciated.
For my own wedding we paid more for our professionals to receive the same meal as our guests instead of a cold, brown bag sandwich. I also helped a couple of them customize their blog templates and am planning to send all of them something special on our first anniversary. Shhhhhh if you know them don't tell them. And if you're one of them act surprised ok? LOL