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Red Deer Advocate - Business
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Tipping can be done in many ways during Christmas season

Not all Christmas giving takes place under a tree. Some occurs in restaurants, hotels, gyms and taxis, and takes the form of fat tips or gifts to service providers.

“They do see some increase in (gratuities) in the holiday season,” said Red Deer Lodge general manager Kevin Ritchie of his staff.

Such displays of financial generosity are more likely to come from regular guests who have developed a relationship with the hotel employees serving them, he added.

Gil Vallee, general manager at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel, has observed the same thing. He said guests also offer gifts like chocolates to hotel staff.

Christmas giving at the Sheraton peaks on Dec. 25, when people seem particularly appreciative of those serving them, said Vallee.

“A lot of folks realize that they (staff) are giving up time with their families to come and serve them and their families.”

Restaurant workers also benefit from the Christmas cheer, said Dwayne Gauthier, an owner of the Cities Gastro Pubs in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake.

“People have a little extra money in their pocket,” he said, adding that they’re willing to share it with waiters and waitresses.

But, qualified Gauthier, even Christmas won’t save a sluggish server from the financial consequences of his or her inaction.

“I don’t think it matters what time of year it is, people are not going to feel justified in leaving a good tip.”

Gauthier said some regular customers choose Christmas as the time to reward a year of good service.

“A fellow will come in and leave a hundred dollar bill to give to all the girls that are working.”

David Murphy, owner of Albert’s Family Restaurant & Lounge and managing partner of the Red Deer Tony Roma’s, agreed that regular customers often select Christmas as the time to show their gratitude. That display may take the form of a small gift or a thank-you note.

“It’s not always money.”

Carla Gilchrist, a partner in and general manager of State & Main restaurant in Red Deer, also thinks customers are more giving during the holiday season. But staff also earn more in tips because business picks up, she said.

Murphy thinks the socializing that takes place at Christmastime contributes to this spike in business, with many newcomers showing up at his restaurants.

“You’re getting a different crowd than you get throughout the year.”

Gauthier added that business celebrations bring more people out to restaurants. When the employer picks up the tab, a larger tip often results.

Many of the people marking the Christmas season in hotels and restaurants need transportation home. And that generates business for companies like Associated Cab.

Melissa Young, Associated’s office manager, said her drivers see a lot of people during the Christmas season that don’t normally take taxis. Those caught up in the Christmas spirit — and liquid spirits — often reward their drivers with a generous tip.

Passengers will also tip heavily when their ride was paid for by their employer, said Young.

“If they throw in $10, it’s kind of what they would have had to pay for the cab ride anyway.”

In the fitness industry, Christmas giving tends more toward presents than cash said Cabel McElderry and Jack Wheeler, owners of One-To-1 Fitness and 360 Fitness respectively. They attribute this to the fact the relationship between trainer and client is very personal.

“What’s kind of ironic is what we most often receive are gifts of Christmas goodies,” said McElderry.

But, he added, that’s OK because the tradition promotes emotional and spiritual health, which are also important.

Wheeler said trainers also receive healthy treats — like fruit trays — as well as flowers, gift cards and wrapped presents.

“We really appreciate it,” he said.

“It’s a good industry to be in around Christmas, I guess.”

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