OK, so I have (wisely or not) read through 12 pages of this thing. I cannot go without commenting here as both a former food service professional (!) and as someone who has recently paid for lessons.
First, TIP is not an acronym, and it doesn't even make sense. If it were possible to insure service (which I doubt), you'd be paying the premium before the meal. If this was about ensuring or assuring prompt service, you would also be paying before the meal (but TEP sounds ridiculous).
You're going to get attentive and excellent service from any attentive, excellent, and self-respecting waiter, whether or not you appear to have good tipping potential (and what does that look like, anyway?). It's just a matter of pride. Shitty service comes from shitty servers, no matter the price. Tepping will not change either case.
Second, regarding this:
We were seated for dinner. When the waiter came, I told him we had the travelzoo coupons and gave him the name of the manager who okayed everything. The first thing out of his mouth was, "I hope you realize you are supposed to tip on the full value of the meal." I was so stunned, I did not reply. The restaurant was half empty. Our service was terrible and every time he had an opportunity to remind us of the tipping expectations, he did.
The first thing out of my mouth would have been "Send over your manager," and I would have insisted on a different server. At no point is it OK for a server to mention tipping -- ever -- without first being asked specifically by the guest (and any reputable server would dance around the question without answering directly).
Now regarding tipping ski instructors (I think that's the point of this thread):
- This weekend I put my 9-year-old daughter in all-day ski school. She not only had a great time but learned some valuable skills. I gave the guy 20 bucks, and saw other parents doing the same. I enjoyed doing this, since he deserved it, and he obviously appreciated it. I must add that the next day, I skied with her for the very first time. I'd have payed much more than 20 for that.
- A couple of seasons ago, a took my only lesson after 35 years of skiing. This was a group lesson that circumstances turned into a private. I'd been skiing long enough to know what I wanted, and I discussed it with the instructor (who asked). I got way more than I expected, and my already competent skiing was dramatically improved. When I went to tip him, he balked, citing the sweet day of skiing that we had (which we did), and that I got him out of some sort of recertification training he was supposed to give. I had to insist vehemently, and finally he graciously took it. That was a tip well earned and I was happy to reward that.
The idea that resorts (or restaurants) should be paying their employees and instructors better is a neat one, but that isn't reality, nor will it be any time soon.