Massage Etiquette – How Much Do I Tip My Therapist?

Recently I had a client ask “How much should I tip? I really don’t know what’s proper.” I explained what the proper etiquette was regarding how much a client should tip their massage therapist; which prompted me to write this piece of information for everyone who is not sure and/ or is afraid to ask this question.

Tipping your massage therapist is not mandatory; but if your massage met or exceeded your expectations a tip should be offered to express that you were more than satisfied. Massage therapists typically work on commission; they receive only a portion of the fee that is charged per massage. This is another reason why it is imperative that you keep your massage appointment, or cancel with enough notice to allow the appointment to be filled by another person.

The standard amount of money you should leave as a tip, used to be an easy thing to calculate. In these changing times with advent of social media marketing, and deep discounts they offer, the proper etiquette for tipping has changed. According to The Nest magazine (Winter 2008) the standard tip for massage therapy is 15-20% and is what you should leave for your therapist. If you purchased your massage service through a social media marketing firm such as Groupons or Living Social; you should offer your tip based on the original price of the massage – not the discounted price. Remember your massage therapist is working on commission, and is more than likely being paid less for your discounted massage.

During the holiday season when added expenses are common; your tips should be larger than the standard 15-20%. If this is your first visit to a particular massage therapist; you should leave a 30-40% tip based on the regular price of your massage service. If you see the same massage therapist regularly throughout the year your tip should be at least 50% and up to 100% of the service you normally receive.

What if your massage did not meet your expectations? Hopefully this never happens. Massage is a personal thing, and sometimes even though your massage therapist did his or her best, the massage may have not been to your liking. This could be a result of too much or too little pressure being used during the massage, or many other factors. First, did you communicate with your therapist during the massage if you were not experiencing what you wanted? If you did, and your massage was still unsatisfactory, you should express your concerns to your massage therapist after your massage. Hopefully this will help the next client. Maybe you will even be willing to return for another massage with the same therapist, and see if your constructive criticism helped improve the therapists performance. Leaving a small tip, such as $2, is really no more than an insult and doesn’t help improve the therapist. Your constructive criticism is way more valuable.

Remember your massage therapist works on commission and you should leave a tip expressing your satisfaction. Tips should always be based on the regular price of a service, and during the holidays they should be anywhere from double the standard amount all the way up to the full price of the massage service you received. If you were dissatisfied with your massage, you should express your concerns politely with your therapist.


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