As anybody who has visited Spain will know, this is a country where people eat and drink out regularly, whether it’s a workday set-price lunch menu, an evening meal, or a midday aperitivo at the weekend with friends and family.
But unlike countries such as the United States – where tipping is pretty much mandatory, and restaurant staff have even been known to upbraid customers who leave less than 20% – or the United Kingdom, where many eateries include a 12% service charge, in Spain it’s up to the customer to decide how much to leave waiters, if anything at all.
Spaniards are also prone to not showing up after making a reservation, say restaurateurs
A new survey carried out in August of the hospitality sector in Spain shows that nearly three-quarters of customers leave a tip of less than 5% of the bill, while just 3% express their gratitude for the service with tips of between 10% and 20%.
The study, drawn up by the Spanish Hospitality Industry Federation (FEHR) and cash-and-carry chain Makro, also notes that half of the 1,700 businesses surveyed reported occasional instances of clients leaving without paying the bill at all.
Around 23% of patrons leave between 5% and 10%, an amount that restaurant and bar owners consider “normal.”
Yet only 4% of those surveyed favored making tips mandatory, as some US restaurants already do. Instead, they want less paperwork in their business relations with government agencies, more institutional support, better credit conditions and improved access to training.
Another habit that restaurant owners were unhappy about was the widespread practice in Spain of not showing up for a meal after making a reservation. These no-shows represent economic losses for the restaurant 90% of the time.