For those who enjoyed a well-deserved business lunch, or deal celebration at restaurant chain Côte Brassiere on Friday you may have noticed that the staff were in an upbeat mood. Côte it seems has been shamed into allowing its staff to keep their tips rather than pocketing the compulsory service charge. Yet over on the other side of the pond, where tipping is a way of life, a prominent US restaurateur is trying to revolutionise the hospitality industry by prohibiting tips at his upmarket New York restaurants. So is the embedded tradition of paying a waiter 10% to 20% of the bill about to change? It would certainly please the US taxman and avoid awkward moments for the less "culturally aware" British tourists. But will the revolution see the demise of service with a smile? Our guess is that being so open and friendly is culturally embedded too.
St Bride's held our 10th, bi-annual Navigator meeting this week to discuss the issues facing the property industry and gauge sentiment from a mix of top-notch professionals. There was cautious optimism for the investment market, with the usual flurry of transactions expected in the run up to Christmas - particularly in the key regional centres where the strong occupier fundamentals have started to translate into rental growth. From a business perspective, there was shared concern about the increasing cost of recruiting (and retaining) staff in a buoyant employment market. Salary expectations in the industry are on the up after years of stagnant wage growth. Good news for employees, but a potential headache for senior management who need to balance salary costs with revenue projections. Get it wrong and recruitment agents will snap up your key staff with predatory efficiency. And to add insult to injury, you'll probably have to pay another recruiter a fairly handsome fee to replace them!
Finance reports released on Thursday by the US Presidential hopefuls provided an eye-opening insight into the true cost of "running for the Whitehouse". Hilary Clinton - whose aides have made a big splash about their frugal ways during this campaign - spent a staggering $26 million over the summer pouring money into television advertising and bank-rolling 511 dedicated staff. The specific line items are even more revealing; $560,000 spent on private jets, $71,000 on office security, $4,000 on sign-language interpreters! In contrast, her Republican rival, Donald Trump (who has spent a mere $5.6 million to-date) is taking a different approach. The Trump campaign spent more on hats, bumper stickers and t-shirts than on any other category. In fact, Mr Trump shelled-out $825,000 on logo-emblazoned gear that he sells on his website and hurls into the crowds at his rock-concert-style campaign events. Yet what really irks his rivals is that, whatever they spend, Donald Trump still benefits from a seemingly endless stream of free news and television coverage. Controversial he may be, but there is clear value in being "television gold".