People are often unsure about this whole tipping etiquette thing. And there are a lot of opinions among clients and massage therapists. There aren't any real clear cut answers for this very common question. I am going to do my best to help clear up any confusion.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is where are you getting your massage? And is your massage therapist working for someone or is a renter? Why does this matter? Well if you are getting a massage in a spa setting most of the time the massage therapist is an employee and is making 40 – 50 % of the service, plus a commission if product is sold. In that type of setting it is very common to tip about 20% of the service. And in the more high end spa’s your tip is already added into the bill. But to be very clear you should pay what you feel comfortable paying for a tip. If your service wasn't a good experience then you shouldn't tip and make sure you bring up your concerns to the manager.
In a more medical setting such as a chiropractic office, the massage is seen as a medical service and in those types of cases tips are generally not given. When people get a massage for a chronic medical condition they tend to see their therapist often. Not all medical office are strict about the no tipping policy, if you feel you have had great results from your therapist and want to give a tip, just ask what is the tipping etiquette policy. If you can’t give a tip referrals are always a great gift too.
Then we have the massage therapist/business owner. Most massage therapists who are business owners generally charge enough for their services so clients don’t need to worry about a tip. A monetary tip is appreciated, but never required. We just love it when a client rebooks and sends their friends in for a massage. That’s the best tip of all. A nice candle or homemade goodies always make my day. I have lots of wonderful treasures that clients have given me over the years and I enjoying looking at them every day.
I hope that clears up some tipping etiquette confusion. At the end of the day the best tip is always a referral or a glowing review on a site such as Yelp. Constant business is what helps keep your favourite massage therapist in business.
Got a question about tipping for massage therapy? Just leave me a comment and I would be happy to answer your question.