As restaurants and bars have shuttered across Wyoming, some of the hardest-hit workers during the Coronavirus crisis have been hospitality workers who rely on tips. One Wyoming Technology Coronavirus Coalition (WTCC) volunteer is using technology to connect them to much-needed support.
Troy Wolfe’s wife is a server, so he knows how critical tips are to service-industry workers. As the owner of a computer solutions small business and a WTCC volunteer, he also knows the problem-solving potential of technology. Almost as quickly as screenshots of happy hours on Zoom started appearing on social media, he saw a way to help members of this struggling industry: a website that enables tipping from home.
“Back when we were able to go out, you would go out on a Friday night, have a drink and tip your bartender. Now that we’re all stuck at home having a drink, this website allows you to keep supporting those people who can’t be at work right now,” Wolfe said.
Developed on the east coast by out-of-work bartenders with some technological savvy, https://serviceindustry.tips/en/ is a grassroots movement built around generosity, which gives it a lot in common with WTCC. Wolfe added his hometown of Cheyenne to the list of participating cities, making it the first in the Cowboy State to join. He then reached out to fellow WTCC volunteers to add their own communities. He still serves as Cheyenne’s administrator.
To contribute, when you’re at home enjoying a good meal or drink, just visit https://serviceindustry.tips/en/wy/, select your city or town, then tip any amount you can. The site will randomly select a registered employee, and your donation will be deposited directly to that individual via Venmo or Cash App.
“Nobody is going to be making a living from this, but if you’re able to send ten or twenty bucks, you might be making the difference between someone being able to get a meal that day or not,” Wolfe said.
Right now, more than 100 servers across Wyoming are signed up at https://serviceindustry.tips/en/wy. Service industry workers are invited to sign up for their community’s channel. The only communities currently registered in Wyoming are Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Gillette, Green River, Jackson Hole, Lander, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs and Wheatland. Wolfe is working to expand the number of communities involved, increase the number of workers signed up, and get more people tipping.
If your community isn’t yet involved, Wolfe encourages you to register your town and at https://serviceindustry.tips/en/administrator-application/ and serve as its administrator.
So the next time you’re enjoying a meal or beverage at home – or wishing you could be at one of your favorite spots – don’t forget the tip. Offer one in honor of the server who never leaves you waiting, that bartender who always gives you a heavy pull, the barista who spells your name right, and all of the other workers who need some extra help right now. Show your generosity at https://serviceindustry.tips/en/wy. Your service might get even better when we’re able to visit them again.