Digital tipping system youtip is a cashless, contactless, and app-less solution that allows guests to tip hotel staff through scanning a QR code that leads to a secure web app. LODGING caught up with Co-Founder and CEO of youtip Doug Miles at HITEC Dallas 2021 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center to discuss what the company learned since its inception, tipping trends, and the future of digital solutions.
Youtip’s software is geared toward driving ancillary revenue for hotels, but are there specific outlets that are strategic focuses for the company?
We are focused on what we call “discretionary tipping,” or whatever we consider the most unaddressed areas, which usually refers to housekeeping, valet parking, bell service, pool attendants, and golf course workers—services that require tips that are not attached to the guest’s check.
Being an enterprise digital tipping system means we can rapidly deploy across many locations under many brands with multiple configurations. We designed our system from the top down instead of the bottom up. So, while we are primarily focused on the hospitality industry, we have also gone straight to corporate entities.
What are some of the most noticeable trends you’re seeing in the industry?
The labor shortage is hitting everyone hard, so people are looking for creative solutions to recruit and retain employees. Youtip is among one of the answers to what they’re looking for. Something outside of tipping but still complementary to what we do is earned wage access. This enables employees to draw from the money they’ve already earned before payday. We’re seeing a lot of hotels, specifically in the food and beverage area, seeking out that complementary service.
How did the pandemic affect your launch?
When we launched, we got a lot of conversations started, but it was slow at the time. Following up was difficult because companies were short on people in general, or people weren’t in the office. But, as these places began to reopen and the labor crunch started, the people from those earlier conversations came back to us and said that they were looking for any new solutions to help with retaining their employees.
What has adoption looked like for this during the pandemic, especially considering the labor shortage?
We thought there would be an immediate appetite and adoption for our platform, but it takes some education. Our growth also happened in waves. When we first started talking to clients, people assumed it would be a heavy technology lift and they would need a large team to start, but we’re a turnkey solution so that’s not required.
What does the future look like for youtip?
Tipping is just the beginning, and this is a guest-facing technology that helps employers get more money into their employees’ paychecks. Early next year, we are going to focus on employee wellness. We want to help alleviate any stress regarding checking, savings, and health saving accounts while focusing on earned wage access as well. We do have a little bit of a concern about how quickly money moves around, so we want to also deploy machine learning technologies that help people automatically save and invest; so, micro-investing will also be an option. We want to slow that fast money down a little bit because if it is that easy to bring in, it can go out just as fast. Automation will be key in making sure people achieve and maintain financial wellness.
Digital tipping is going to be pervasive in this industry by the end of next year. I, personally, struggled with not having cash on me during business travel for a long time before this company, so it’s going to be commonplace pretty soon. People won’t even have to think about having cash on them anymore.