My friend (I can’t use her real name because her company does not like employees to talk about tips) graduated from UW-Madison this past May and decided to take a different path than most graduates. Instead of setting for a 9-5 desk job, she decided to travel and get jobs wherever she ended up. I truly admire her decision and hope I am able to do something similar at some point.
She is currently living in London working as a tour guide for free walking tours in central London. She is paid a small wage per tour, but the bulk of her compensation comes from tips from tourists on her guided tours.
When she first began giving tours, she would wait until the end of the tour and then say “If you had fun, I will graciously accept tips.” Some people would tip, but many would not and her Pounds per person rate was rather low.
Last week, she changed her pitch at the end of tours to “I work on a tips only basis, so if you had fun, I will graciously accept what you think this tour is worth.” When she took a tour group past one of the many bus tours of central London, she would say “look at all of those lazy people on the buses. They paid 30 pounds for their trip and all they do is sit.”
Her tips have increased by over 50%.
Her story is an interesting case of how small changes in messages to create a large change in viewer reaction. The Nudges Blog talks about these types of issues every day. She also uses anchoring to get people to think about what her tour is worth. By letting her tourists know that people who are on the bus tours pay 30 Pounds, she is giving them an idea of what other tours are worth. She is setting a high anchor for people so that when they are asked to tip, they base their tips on a known commodity.
Although her tips have increased, she is still looking for other nudges that will increase them even more. See if you can help her out by posting your ideas in the comments.