Marriott’s Housekeeping Tip Envelopes Are Tacky

While I’m generally about as pro-tip as they come (I’ll explain that in more detail below), Marriott has crossed the line with their new initiative, in my opinion.

Marriott has started putting tip envelopes in rooms, to encourage guests to leave tips for the housekeepers.

The envelope reads as follows:

THE ENVELOPE PLEASE

Thanks for staying at Marriott Hotels. Our caring room attendants enjoyed making your stay warm and comfortable. Please feel free to leave a gratuity to express your appreciation for their efforts.

Marriott-Tip-Envelope

Via The Washington Post, this is actually in partnership with “A Woman’s Nation:”

Beginning this week, a number of the company’s hotels will begin providing envelopes in guest rooms to encourage visitors to tip workers. The initiative, called “The Envelope Please,” is a partnership with A Woman’s Nation, a nonprofit organization founded by journalist and former California first lady Maria Shriver.

“In conversation with Maria, she said it had struck her that too often women are in positions that we forget to acknowledge,” Arne Sorenson, chief executive and president of Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott, said in an interview. “In a hotel, obviously we tip the bellman or wait staff. But often we don’t see our housekeepers. We don’t have that personal interaction, so we just don’t think about it.”

My philosophy on tipping

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about tipping complimentary airline chauffeur service. Many airlines offer a complimentary chauffeur for first and business class passengers, so I was sharing my thoughts on whether or not the drivers should be tipped.

Per that post, my tipping philosophy as it relates to a complimentary chauffeur service is as follows:

  • I like to “live and let live.” I try to understand how people make a living, and do what I can to be “fair” towards them. For example, if someone works in retail and on a commission, I don’t want to waste an hour of their time if I’m not serious about buying shoes.
  • You don’t have to tip, because at the end of the day the airlines are “selling” you a product that includes a car service, presumably with tip included. It’s not your fault that they’re arranging it at an especially attractive cost for the airline, and a cost where the limo company comes out ahead, while for the most part the driver is making less than minimum wage on these airport pick-ups.
  • A good driver will appreciate that different cultures have different perspectives on tipping, and won’t be disappointed if you don’t tip, because they realize it’s nothing personal against them.

Of course I don’t love the tip system we have in the US, but I also don’t want to take that out on front line employees.

Do I tip room attendants at hotels?

I do. At least I try to when I have cash. I realize they work hard and I can only imagine what they sometimes have to “encounter” in rooms.

At the same time, when I tip a room attendant I truly think of that as discretionary and not as being necessary. And maybe that’s something I’m wrong about. The reason I feel like that is because there should be zero variability in how that service is executed, as a clean room is the absolute core of hospitality.

In other words, the attendants use a checklist and I never even come in contact with them. So while I do appreciate their efforts, I also tend to associate tips with jobs that involve variability in service delivery.

Again, I say this as someone that typically does tip housekeeping…

This envelope rubs me the wrong way

For me this is what it comes down to. I want to tip housekeeping because I want to tip housekeeping.

Frankly I find the text on the envelope to be rather direct. I don’t get the title (“The Envelope Please?”), and truly it makes me feel like I’m being guilted into a tip.

Bottom line

I’ll continue to tip housekeeping, but at the same time I can’t help but feel like this goes a bit too far.

If this is the standard then I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t tip the person that checks you in (which you may already do if you’re in Vegas and want an upgrade).Afterall, the front desk staff is also providing a service and there’s a ton of variability in how they can deliver it.

How do you feel about these tip envelopes, and will they impact whether or not you tip your room attendant?

Comments

  1. Most of my hotel visits are three to four days. I prefer having people in there as little as possible, and usually leave the do not disturb on it. If have to I grab coffee or spare towel from a nearby cart.
    So no, wouldn’t be tipping except for out of the way service.

  2. It strikes me as cheap and tacky on Marriott’s part. It seems as if they’re asking you to provide their housekeepers with their salary – which is basically what you’re doing at a restauarant.

    I’m not a fan of the US tipping culture. For services where the person basically doesn’t earn a living without your tip, fine, but it’s getting out if control.

    I’d much rather see food prices in restaurants be 20% more expensive and no one tips (that’s all tipping is doing anyway) but it’s too ingrained in the culture for that to happen.

  3. Ben, maybe I’m missing something here, but this to me blatantly screams that Marriott has felt pressure to pay its employees more, Marriott doesn’t want to, and so now Marriott is publicly pressuring its customers to take on the cost instead. Am I wrong?

  4. I agree this is more about Marriott (and hotels in general) not paying their housekeepers a decent wage. Raise room rates by a couple of dollars and pass it on directly to the staff.

  5. I agree with George that this seems to be Marriot just passing costs on to customers in the most opaque manner possible. That said, with all the attention this has gotten, Marriott will probably need to be careful over the next year or two and not cut the housekeepers wages as tips increase or pool the tips in an improper manner. So the housekeepers will probably come out ahead in the short run although I would guess in the long run, if they keep this program, wages will fall as tips increase.

    This also brings to mind SPGs offer to skip room cleaning for 500 points. I almost always take that offer since I rarely make much of a mess in a room. Marriott would need to offer many more points to make a similiar value offer but that could be a good way for them to cut housekeeping costs. I don’t know what SPG values starpoints at but I would guess 500 star points cost them far less than the labor, supplies, laundry etc.. associated with cleaning a room.

  6. @Ben, you mentioned that you “don’t get the title” on the envelope: it’s a play on the phrase used at award ceremonies when a presenter requests the envelope containing the award recipient’s name. “The envelope, please! And the winner is….” 🙂

  7. Bizarre about tipping is that you do it *after* services rendered. I’d prefer to give them the cash up front to guarantee good service rather than spin the dial.

  8. If I’m staying more than one day, I always leave a nicely worded note stating that I’ll leave a tip on the final day as I don’t necessarily find myself with the right amounts/denominations of cash in my pocket. This way the tip can be based on the service level (a short note works here too, e.g. Excellent service!), but I’m out of there, so if service wasn’t good and the tip is mediocre, I don’t worry about my toothbrush in the toilet :).

    The envelope is unnecessary.

  9. I also tip in the room and do so with a short note, thanking them for their service. I would never use that envelope, ever, as it takes all the personal touch out of it and makes it strictly a financial transaction. If it is simply a financial transaction, that is Marriott’s responsibility, not mine. If I find that envelope in the room, I would leave it with the general manager with a note saying what I just said here.

  10. This solves a problem that many housekeepers have. Money simply left on the dresser or desk may or may not be a gratuity. I have heard stories, possibly urban legends, of housekeepers fired for assuming that loose money was a tip. So I think this is a way to ensure that a tip is a conscious decision on the part of the guest and that the housekeeper is clear.

    I do tip the housekeepers. I don’t feel I should have to but I know how low they are paid, how hard they work and how often they are abused. I would much rather the cost of a room included living wages as there are others in noncustomer facing positions who are equally poorly compensated but until that happens, I’ll will leave a tip, that I always label as a tip. (I write the word “tip” on the scratchpad and put the money underneath.)

  11. @ Eric W. — Ah, got it. Still don’t get what that has to do with room attendants, though. Do they think they deserve an Emmy for cleaning rooms, or…?

  12. Most of the supervisors working at house keeping department would STEAL the tips you left for your house keeping maid. This envelope wouldn’t help. I prefer leaving the tip in the front desk to give given to your house keeper.

  13. I don’t mind having an envelope, primarily because I feel like there isn’t a good way to leave a tip if I choose to, where I can make it clear that it is for the room cleaner and not just leaving random cash on the table. (I usually write a note saying “Housekeeping, thank you).

    For the most part I don’t tip on business trips, I’ve likely used 1 towel and not made much of a mess. But if I am there with family/friends and we’ve made a bit of a mess I’ll leave $5 or $10. Once in a while someone will have too much to drink and make a bit of a mess of the bathroom and I’ll leave $20 or so.

  14. How much tip do you leave? 2% of the room price? 5%?
    What if you are staying in a hotel in an emerging country/cheap labor (Thailand etc…)?

    I tend to tip when I know that the local wages are low.

  15. @Lucky when I was slightly younger than you I was a Housekeeping Manager at a Hyatt property outside of Chicago, and aside from the poverty wages some housekeepers are paid, often more than one housekeeper will attend to your room if you are staying more than 2-3 nights and especially over weekends. When you leave a cash tip on the desk/dresser it only goes to the housekeeper that attends your room when you check out. However if you leave it in an envelope addressed to the housekeeping manager then the tip will be fairly split between all of the housekeepers servicing your room.

    Additionally the vast majority of people don’t leave a tip for the housekeepers. Back in my Hospitality career days it was roughly around 20% of guests that tipped their housekeepers.

    My assumption is Marriott is providing these envelopes to facilitate fairer and more comprehensive tipping so they don’t have to pay their housekeepers a living wage.

  16. I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t tip the person that checks you in

    I’ve been at the same hotel Sunday to Thursday for the past year and I gave the front desk manager and the two agents who usually check me in $50 each for the holidays. It’s come back to me 10x in terms of service and upgrades. I think I’ll increase it to $100 each this holiday season.

  17. Robert F, I think you should hang out outside the housekeeping locker room and hand out $20s as they come to work. That would be super duper awesome of you!

  18. Eons ago when I first started traveling I remember envelopes in hotel rooms for housekeeping so these aren’t new to me. I’m not bothered by it and it will educate folks to think about tipping housekeeping too. Cruise lines have provide envelopes for years on staff to tip (now most automatically bill it to your room). As a former waitress, I relied on tips when I was in school so understand the tip culture.

    I tip every day by writing a note to say “thanks” and put on the bed since people change each day. If doing SPG points instead, I leave tip at end of stay since one person cleaning room. At the end of the day, if I can afford to travel, I can afford to tip those providing a service with or without an envelope.

  19. In the USA, I tip $5.00/day, and put it in an envelope that I label “Housekeeping,” and I write “Thank you” on it as well.

    This Marriott thing is just obnoxious, and it really smacks of them asking us to pay their staff salaries. They can either bundle the salaries in with the cost of a room night, or not, but this is passive-aggressive at least, and aggressive-aggressive at most. Obnoxious.

    Finally, as an American, I totally understand tip culture here and it does not stress me out in the least, though I can understand completely why non-US citizens find it confusing and frustrating.

  20. I think this practice is remarkably uncouth for a major player in the “hospitality” industry.

    Placing envelopes with the simple word “housekeeping” in the room’s binder with stationery and hotel information is the full extent to which Marriott should be “educating” its guests.

    This seems more like shaking guests down/shaming guests to secure compensation for housekeeping when Marriott does not care to pay them sufficiently themselves.

  21. I consider myself to be a generous tipper, but I also find the concept of tipping housekeeping to be absurd. WTF am I paying $200 per night for?

  22. @Robert F

    Perhaps Marriott, whose business is hospitality, should care if they are offending its customers.

    What next, adding a picture of the housekeeper’s staving child to the envelope?

  23. What we do do for housekeeping is keep our room picked up. Before obtaining housekeeping for the day, we always put all trash in the trash can, all dirty towels in the tub, all dirty clothes in the closet, and put away all personal items. Their job should be to clean the room, not to pick up after slobs. I’ve actually been thanked for this by housekeepers.

  24. Just saying “they are some of the hardest working individuals in a hotel” doesn’t do anything for their wallet. And if the hotels decided to raise their pay you would surely balk at the rise in cost. American culture has no problem tipping the minimum for mediocre service at a restaurant where we both know the server isn’t working nearly as hard as the housekeeper. I notice when tipping throughout my stay I do get special attention and I do ask for things that aren’t normally provided i.e. extra coffee, pillows, or chocolates. Keep in mind some of the things other road warriors leave behind in their rooms and we would be horrified. These kind people deserve the extra tip, regardless how the envelope may “upset” the delicate balance of your day. Bottom line is, a job done well is worth recognizing. Look at your paycheck and look at theirs. Pointing the finger at Marriott is so much easier than forgoing the extra mocha today. Do the right thing.

  25. Tacky and wrong.

    If low wages are the factor to tip, then we should also tip agents who book us on a flight; Call Centres are known to pay minimum wages – just to name a few of the regular services that are absolutely required for a corporation to run yet become invisible from a customer perspective.

    Marriott has gone too far and too wrong; If Marriott has an issue, they should sort it out instead of passing the bucket to their customers.

  26. When we stay at the hotel, I always inform the front desk of no room service as well as putting a Do Not Disturb sign on the door when we go out. We do not make a mess, do not change sheets or towels everyday at home and are not used to being waited on on daily basis. I have occasionally heard stories that leaving a tip in the room will not necessary get to the room attendant as supervisor may enter the room prior to attendant cleans it. The notion to tip the front desk clerk or supervisor in order to get room upgrade is akin to bribing/ giving a kickback to government officials to seal the contract after bidding on a project. Last night I read an article on theatlantic. com about tipping in service industry will not bring the workers out of poverty as companies and employers count the estimated tips toward meeting minimum wage. Plus the IRS wants a piece on estimated tips and workers may have to pay taxes on tips that they do not receive. There is just an unconscionable income disparity in this country between executive compensation package and the rank and file minimum salary compared to other developed countries in the world.

  27. Wow, so much hate for such a basic concept related to human kindness. Let’s recap:

    1. It has always been proper form in the United States and elsewhere to tip housekeeping at hotels. It doesn’t mean you have to tip, but it’s certainly considered good form to do so, and it’s been that way for a long time. Tipping has nothing to do with Marriott or any other hotel chain paying or not paying their employees a fair wage. The European trolls who want to debate the tipping culture in the USA versus their allegedly superior ways of just leaving a euro in exchange for snotty service, please leave this conversation now.

    2. I, for one, tip housekeeping when I remember to. Regretfully, it’s not every time I stay in a hotel. It’s actually something I occasionally have to remind myself to do. I *want* to tip housekeeping, but it’s often a function of my remembering to do so, and me having money to do it.

    3. When I do remember to tip, if it’s in the middle (as opposed to the end) of my stay, I always have to write a note that says “Housekeeping” on the tip so they don’t mistake it for my own money I left by the side of the bed.

    4. The tip envelope — and let’s all agree it’s not that obnoxious, it’s clear that it’s your prerogative to tip or not tip — is a useful reminder to tip if that’s something you’d do anyway, and it’s a nice way of actually handling the tip so that you can tip throughout your stay and not just at the end.

    5. And bash Marriott all you want — but Ace Hotels have had tip envelopes since they opened years ago. I’m sure other hotel chains do, as well.

    I mean come on, people. Get the chip off your shoulder and recognize that in the US, at least, it is a nice and sincere gesture to throw a few dollars the way of the often underprivileged women who are cleaning your mess of a room (because let’s face it, EVERYONE leaves their hotel rooms messier than you ever would were it your own room) and changing your sweat-and-who-knows-what-else soaked sheets and picking your towels up off the floor and arranging your toiletries. These women work hard, and they don’t deserve the snark and scorn and shade being thrown their way by the handful of entitled Ayn Rand followers who’ve commented on this post so far.

  28. Tipping is getting out of control.
    I don’t get a tip for doing my job. I do the best I can and hope I can move up to a better job with a higher wage.
    That is not to say I don’t tip– but if the service is bad I don’t.

    …I mean come on @nick not all of us can afford to leave extra, really!

  29. @ Nick, I for one do not leave my room messier than my bedroom. Most my stays are single night stays so my room never gets 2 messy, as I am in there for only about 8hrs. But I do ensure to put trash in the bin, towels in the bath and generally leave the place fairly tidy.

    Marriott is taking things too far, IMHO

  30. @Nick, hear, hear! There’s a smug libertarian ethos among the miles and points crowd that’s terribly discouraging. One wag on FlyerTalk even suggested that those who work for tips are ruining America because they’re “just looking for a handout.” (!!!)

  31. Surely there’s a joke to be made about the historically-Mormon Marriott corporation appreciating women. But I’m not touching that one.

  32. I’ve had exceptionally good housekeeping that I’ve left tips for, only to find out the next morning, I got a different housekeeper who picked up the tip that was meant for the previous exceptional housekeeper. I am particularly annoyed when the next housekeeper, who picked up the tip meant for the previous one, is mediocre. In that case, having an envelope with an employee’s name on it would maybe help direct it to the “correct” person I meant to tip. Overall though, I think it’s as tacky as standing there with your hand out expecting a tip. I really dislike guilt tipping.

  33. I occasionally stay in luxury B&B type establishments. There is frequently a tip envelope with a “suggested” tip of 10% of the room rate. The $1 to $5 per night tip suggested by Marriott is nothing. My daughter used to work in a hotel and she told me that over 50% of guests “forget” to tip housekeeping. If an envelope helps people to remember, I think it is great.

  34. I just hope the envelope doesn’t mean they are collected by management and distributed between all staff…at least if I tip on the table in the room I know the housemaid will actually get the money in her hand

  35. @Eric W. — Good point! As is always the case, those who are stomping their feet whining about poor people expecting handouts and entitlements are those who fail to see the handouts and entitlements (Medicare for the olds shouting for gov’t to get out of their healthcare; agricultural subsidies for the Western ranchers telling the government to get off their land, etc.). I say this without judgment — but doesn’t the entire gist of the points and miles community rely on handouts and entitlement? I flew X number of miles for work, that my work paid for, but I *deserve* Platinum status, free roundtrips in Cathay first, and a suite at the Park Hyatt. My personal philosophy is go for it, chase those miles and points — but don’t be naive and think you aren’t buying into the entitlement/handout culture by doing so.

  36. “It has always been proper form in the United States and elsewhere to tip housekeeping at hotels. It doesn’t mean you have to tip”

    No, it hasn’t (certainly not elsewhere, and definitely not just Europe), and you saying it is doesn’t make it true.

    “The European trolls who want to debate the tipping culture in the USA versus their allegedly superior ways of just leaving a euro in exchange for snotty service, please leave this conversation now.”

    Calling people trolls and dismissing their opinions ironically makes you an arrogant obnoxious snot yourself, and is hardly the best way to engage people in a discussion when you are trying to explain to them a different point of view.

  37. @wwk5d — You’re contradicting yourself. In your clever “no it hasn’t” retort, are you saying it hasn’t always been proper form in the postwar United States to tip housekeeping at a hotel (which is what I claimed), or that it hasn’t always been proper form outside the USA (which I never claimed and which I in fact pointed out)?

    I’m not baiting the trolls here, but I will point out that any time a tipping-related post comes up on this site or similar sites, you can surely expect the usual dozen or so posts about how bad tipping is and what a horrible idea it is and how X should be paying better wages to begin with and it’s not our responsibility to subsidize them.

    Well, these are all great theoretical points, but nothing is going to change the fact that tipping culture is long established in the USA, it isn’t going anywhere, and those who engage in not tipping or undertipping people in the service industry are not taking a stand, they’re just a$$holes.

  38. Um, no, not really contradicting myself. You are the one who said it was common in the United States AND ELSEWHERE. And where would elsewhere be but outside the United States? If anyone is contradicting themselves, it would be you.

    As for tipping in the US…you are also a bit off in your statement. Tipping in the US in certain places, like restaurants, is much more widespread and done in other places like hotels, where only about 52% of Americans leave tips for housekeeping staff. Slightly more than half isn’t exactly widespread.

  39. @ Nick,

    ” so much hate for such a basic concept related to human kindness. Let’s recap:

    1. It has always been proper form in the United States and elsewhere to tip housekeeping at hotels”

    Care to support such evidence – I can name areas in Asia, Europe and Latin America where this tipping is not expected, at all.

    Regardless of your opinion, Marriott caters to global travelers and ought to respect global cultures; If Marriott respects so much US culture, then it ought to also respect as much the culture of other countries they have properties in.

    Tacky and wrong in so many ways; Look for to waiting for the recording about tipping their call centre operations, which can make as much, or less, than housekeeping staff.

  40. @wwk5d, let me read you back what I wrote:

    “1. It has always been proper form in the United States and elsewhere to tip housekeeping at hotels.”

    I’m trying to find the word “elsewhere” in there, but I just can’t find it. Can you help me find it?

    (I won’t even try to blow your mind by telling you the tipping situation is the same in Canada.)

    Just because only 52% of hotel guests tip doesn’t contradict that I said tipping is “good form.” It is. I never said it was widespread, just good form. And Marriott is trying to pass the message along to bump that number up from 52%, and as Robert F. pointed out, whatever it takes to get hotel maids more money in their pocket works for me.

    I, frankly, see more value in an earned tip for a hotel housekeeper than $1 or $2 slipped to the doorman in the driveway of a five-star hotel who merely motions a cab forward and opens the door for you, but I digress.

    Again, we’re talking $2-5 a day here, max. From a readership that regularly pays hundreds of dollars extra for flights that may not be the cheapest or most direct, but will earn them more elite qualifying points, or will pay out of pocket for mileage or bed runs — I find the disgruntled, reluctant groans for shelling out a couple of bucks to the service industry to be rather distasteful.

  41. Shit, I actually DID write “elsewhere.”

    My bad. Canada. The Caribbean. Mexico.

    There’s your elsewhere.

    Sorry that I stupidly didn’t read my own post correctly. I’m an idiot (really).

  42. Okay, so I got a little to flame-warry on this one, @wwk5d. Trying to be a lawyer and nitpick isn’t the way to win people over. I apologize, sincerely.

    But I do think that it is a bit more widespread than just the U.S. and its fifty states. Just because a couple of cultures don’t do tipping — i.e., Japan — doesn’t make it an offensive notion.

    I’m just really scratching my head and who would actually be “offended” by this. It’s an envelope. Feel free to ignore it. I ignore the bible placed in my bedside table by the Gideons. It’s my choice. I’m not offended by that either.

  43. I’ve never tipped for housekeeping, I’ve never felt compelled to do so and I’ve never felt bad about it. I’m paying often $200+ per night for a room to sleep in, part of the agreement is that the room be safe, functional and kept tidy both by me and by the hotel staff. Coming back in the evening to a clean room makes me happy to see that the hotel has upheld their end of the deal, and I will continue to give them my business. To me it does not mean that they suddenly deserve more money. Tipping is for going beyond the norm, giving someone more than they bargained for. Frankly I feel the same way about the valet service too. When I’m hit $69 a night to park a car, I don’t tip the valet on top of that. Hoteliers and other service based businesses should just pay their staff an appropriate wage and stop expecting us to fish out a few more greenbacks every time someone touches my bag, vacuums the floor or parks my car. It’s ridiculous.

  44. I tip housekeeping daily, except in the situation where I do not have any small bills.

    I just mobile checked in for my Marriott stay tonight – it would be great if as I am checking in through the app (or online, or at the front desk), they would offer the option: Would you care to add a $2.00 per night service charge to your bill which will be given directly to the housekeeping staff?

    This way I am tipping proactively (ahead of my stay), don’t have to worry about having $1’s or $5’s available, and could earn points on my generosity! (OK, that last one is a joke.) 🙂

    Just ask me if I am OK with it, add it to my bill. Make it easy.

  45. Great choice for a post, Ben – nice debate as a result 🙂

    I subscribe to the 3rd Rock From the Sun school of tipping – if the service is above and beyond, I’ll tip. If it’s just what I’d expect anyway then that’s what I paid for service-wise in the first place. I think Nick makes a good point though – why tip a bellman for motioning down a cab (zero effort) yet not offer a similar tip to a housekeeper? (I wouldn’t tip in the first scenario anyway, but it’s an interesting thought for those that would)

  46. Sure seems to be a sizeable amount of pro tip comments on your blog Ben. Quite the contrast to the 10 to 1 or so ratio against it on Gary’s blog post yesterday. Strange…

  47. I know where this is going.

    In a few years, you will be tipping TSA agents after a whole body pat down… Then you go to the lounge and give the front desk as well as all servers in the room $10 tip each. Oh, don’t forget the sanitors you don’t usually see! They work really hard to keep the bathroom clean.

    Then you board a flight and tip the gate staff, the flight attendant, and of course don’t forget the pilots! Then after the flight, also leave tip for the cleaning service done after the flight!

    That’s the only way!

  48. Did you all get an email from Lucky telling us where to mail his tip for writing this blog? 🙂

    The tipping culture has gotten way out of hand and Marriott wants us to pay their salary instead of them. Unless they went way beyond the norm the housekeeping costs are built into the room cost.

  49. Where does tipping for invisible services stop? Should I tip the prisoner who made my licence plate? He did a good job on it. The paint lines up with the metal indentations….

  50. @lucky, help

    Im a but torn here.
    For over nine years im on the road spending avg 45-50 weeks a year in hotels for work. Usually mon – fri. Of course another 3-4 weeks a year in hotels for vacation.
    Im making an avg middle class wage, nothing fancy.
    If i put tip on the nightstand, lets say 20$ for a week , that is about $1000 a year. That is a lot of money that i don’t have. My employer pays for a daily set amount of meals including tips but doesn’t pay for tipping in hotel so that would be a personal expense.

    Im a bit confused at people complaining why hotels don’t pay enough to housekeeping that is why they need tip and this shouldnt be our problem. But that argument holds for waitresses/waiters but we have no problem tipping them.

    I would not have a problem tipping housekeeping if i travelled occaisionally but paying housekeeping 1000 a year i just cant afford.
    Like others i put do not disturbe sign out as soon as i arrive and remove it on the day of check out. Nobody changes sheets on bed changes towels , vacuums at my home every day either. But is this the real solution?

  51. @Nick
    Well said.

    @Lucky
    Have you ever held a real job? Ever worked in the service industry you spend so much time critiquing? Not sarcasm, I sincerely would like to know. Not tipping on a FREE limo ride is ridiculously cheap.

  52. I enjoyed the prison license plate parallel. Good point! Just think how much more $5 would do for a prisoner than a maid/housekeeper; they only make like $5/day!

    In the end…how can I be sure that the person who has been cleaning my room (part of my original mutually beneficial agreement with the hotel that I already paid for) gets his/her tip? I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of problems with the wrong people getting them or stealing them or whatever. Even worse, it would be a shame if they’re made to turn them into their manager/supervisor who then skims a little (or all) or whatever. Why would I want to feed that game of shenanigans?

  53. @Andre – some of us have an issue with tipping there too – I think tips should be for service above and beyond. The most ludicrous was when booking a SuperShuttle the website asked *before even experiencing the service* as to what level of tip I wanted to give!

  54. one of the most confusing things about tipping has always been: if you tip the housekeeping, why not the checkin lady? why not the porter? why not the doorman? why not the concierge? also in restaurants, I think the chef actually matters much more than the waiter/waitress. Why don’t I tip him, if I am tipping the waiter/waitress?

    The US tipping culture is f**ked up. It makes things more complicated and sometimes even less enjoyable.

    BTW I do think there’s variability in quality of housekeeping. Good housekeeping puts power cords in tidy coil. 😉

  55. @Sherman:

    1. It’s also custom to tip the porter, the doorman when he calls you a taxi, and the concierge when they perform a task for you above and beyond a restaurant/show reservation.

    2. It’s not custom to tip the chef in a restaurant because he’s generally speaking one of the best paid people in the restaurant to begin with. Servers rely on tips as part of their wage structure. And you can tip the maitre d’ or host/hostess if you feel like it in order to establish a rapport so next time you go, you can get an “in.”

    Call the tipping culture f-ed up if you like, but if you can’t see the actual honest to goodness difference between tipping a six-figure-salaried chef who oversaw the people who line-cooked your meal, and tipping $2 to a Central American or Polish female immigrant who is scrubbing your toilet and changing your sheets and towels, then you appear to be lacking in empathy.

  56. If you can’t spare $5 a day for service, stay at a hostel or stay at home. Honestly, many of you were cheated out of a proper upbringing.

  57. @Marcus It isnt that i dont have $5 per night occasionally but i travel for work full time and that is $20 a week aka about $1000 a year on top of the room cost.
    I just plain cant afford that expense because my work contracts doesnt allow expensing it. The reality is that usually per diem meals , tips on taxi etc are expensed including tips in contracts but for some reason housekeeping tips are not.
    Minimum wage isnt enforced on restaurant staff therefore their income depends on tips. (Always been like this if not all but in many countries). Housekeeping has income following minimum wage guidelines. It is another argument if minimum wage is too low or too high.

    Cheers…Endre

  58. No worries, Endre…..Marcus is likely a very young and idealistic young man. The realities of life will one day set him straight….just as they have with (most of) the rest of us.

    Marcus…would you kindly pass the Grey Poupon?

  59. USA is such a great place to live-work!!.. At this side of the pond, 10% MAXIMUM (and 90% of time you will see less) for table service. Tipping for Housekeeping? you kidding me?.. Never heard that before (well actually yes, because I read so much US based travel blogs and information).

  60. Most of the time my stays are relatively short and I prefer not to have housekeeping done (with SPG, it works out even better since they give you points). I’m generally pro-tip but unless a room was very messy and required additional effort, it seems strange to me that a tip is expected in US hotels as a rule (same for hailing a cab).

    Can someone with experience in this industry shine some light on why tips are required? Does housekeeping staff accept low(er) wages with a certain promise/expectation of tips?

    Anyhow, those envelopes are not the end of the world however perhaps a better idea would’ve been to housekeeping to leave small “your room was cleaned by ____ ” cards, have a plain tips envelope provided in your room, and — at the end of your stay — you could deposit cash and card(s) from housekeeper(s) you liked and they could split it.

    P.S. Are there seriously places that charge $69+ for a valet? That’s crazy.

  61. Not sure how the cost of hotel vallet service sneaked in to this discusdion but im at hotel in Kansas City downtown where it is $35 a night. Plus tip. 🙂 it isnt the top of the line hotel so in another bigger city i can see the 69$

  62. Empty envelopes are no more tacky than blank “tip lines” on a restaurant bill. We’re just conditioned to know we are suppose to leave tips for restaurant employees and not chambermaids. While I understand restaurant employees have a “different” minimum wage, I still don’t think they deserve 15-20% for recommending the meal the kitchen is trying to get rid of and then placing it in front of me. The woman for whom English is a second or third language and cleans my toilet and sink definitely deserves it. Am I going to plop 15-20% down for cleaning a $200 per night room? No, but a $5 bill on the pillow is respectable. For people who don’t get the fact that chambermaids should be tipped, what’s the difference if the hotel gives you an envelope?

  63. As a motel manager I find this to be a very interesting blog. Some points are valid while others are just off. Yes, housekeeper are underpaid ( I just fought and won a salary increase for my staff), and yes you hardly encounter your house keeper. However, in my motel it was the housekeepers whom requested we add the tip envelope (after they were granted a .50 raise). Working in the hospitality field I tip almost everyone from taxi drivers to housekeepers. I just understand that most people are traveling for business or pleasure and gratuities should be included in your budget.

  64. My conundrum is this….which valet do I tip? The one who opened my door? The one who open my wife’s door? The one who drove it away? Man… I’m just going to start tipping all of them…My guilt is consuming me!

  65. I am so glad I found your blog, as I am staying in a Marriott for the first time. I’m normally a Starwood girl. I am SO put off by these envelopes that I actually just tweeted Marriott about it. It is so tacky. I am an American, married to a Dane, so we always have debates about tipping. Normally I’m pro tipping for unexpected, above and beyond service, but unless I have a rockstar party and trash my hotel room, daily towel replenishment and making the bed is really the job of housekeeping and not special service. I don’t understand why I should be pressured into tipping for something like this by having this envelope in my room. Further, my housekeeper keeps moving the envelope around. Perhaps in hopes it will attract my attention. Perhaps Marriott should pay their staff more if they feel that they need to be further compensated.

  66. Why do you tip the waitress? If I’m already paying for a service that is supposed to be included in my bill, or do I have to grab the food from the kitchen myself in order to avoid adding the tip to my bill? Well…think about it! The answer is NO… I can’t do this, and I know! Don’t get me wrong, waitress are hard workers too, but I only wanted to grab your attention. In my opinion, housekeeping is a really hard job to do.They are not only following a check list, but they are going above and beyond what it is on that list in order to have a room ready for the next guest. A difference of a waitress that only brings you the food from the kitchen to your table, a housekeepers is providing an elbow grease effort in order to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Hotel housekeepers are under pay and sadly a housekeeper count on the little extra money that they can get everyday from gratuities. Some hotels pay a housekeeper to do a complete check out clean as little as $4 per room. This can take them between 30-45 minutes to complete the task. Do you think this is fair? Would it hurt you to leave an extra 5 or 10 bucks for these hard worker people? If you think that the envelopes are tacky, just don’t punish the housekeeper, instead complaint with the manager.

  67. I agree that people should tip a housekeeper because they want to. For me as a housekeeper of a outside property is hard. This is for some of us, but where I wprk we have penthouses, go up and down stairs all day. These rooms have kitchens and people cook and bring kids and they leave rooms so nasty. We have only 30 minutes to clean and some times we have to spend more time in a room because is so bad. Now a days almost no one leaves tips. We work super hard for the rooms to be clean and the salary the hotel give us does not represent all the work that we do.

  68. It amazes me how many people act oblivious to how value is captured and to whose pocket it winds up in when it comes to a business. the man above who said WTF why am I paying $200 a night? You are full of crap. you pay that much for the esteem of being someone who can afford to do that. You don;t give a crap about some poverty worker so cut it out already. The money goes to enrich an absentee owner. That is the way it is, and we all know it. I don’t even mind expect I hate it when people pretend that there is something else going on. Like no one is responsible. We are all responsible! We all benefit from cheap labor, we all eat from the same pot. We are all selfish, admit it and get over it. Really you don’t know that? Fake. Meanwhile some elderly minority women is cleaning our rooms and she never gets enough hours to get ahead, they won;t put her on full time even though she has been working for twenty years. They don’t want to pay her insurance, she will die soon and her family will not have enough money for a proper burial. But we will sleep well in that serta bed tonight. This is the world we live in. Stop lying to yourself and deluding yourself that someone else takes care of the working poor. You don’t and no one else doesl either. At least have the freaking decency to admit the truth.

  69. Even if you had the DND sign on for days, consider tipping on the day of checkout. Instead of assuming that you saved housekeeping from all that work, you probably left behind more trash and more cleaning to do than if you opted for daily service.

    As for simply taking what you need from the carts, ask first.

  70. I tip, but this envelope is insulting to customers. As a member of the Marriott rewards family (Ritz-Carlton), I stay at Marriott properties worldwide. Why don’t I see this envelope in China? I’m guessing because it is socially unacceptable to ask for a tip. Hmm.

  71. Let’s see how you like this…

    Waitress paid min wage $10.50 per hour in this province in Canada 8 hour shift

    8 X $10.50 = $ 84.00
    She greets you, takes your order, fills your drinks, brings your food, maybe refills drinks, asks how you liked it and depending on place collects your money.

    Average meal cost for lunch or breakfast per person $ 17.00 ( this is not the dinner meals which are $25.00 and up)
    Tip per person at !5 % $2.55 average number of plates 100 = $255.00 ( tips notoriously underreported)

    Her daily take home pay assuming no sharing ( line cook etc), deductions etc. $84 + $255.00 = $339.00 per day

    Housekeeper paid min wage $10.50 and hour (sometimes up to $16.00 ) usually 6 hour day

    $10.40 X 6 = $63.00 $16 X 6 = $96.00
    Housekeepers have 30 min to lug stuff to room, empty refuse, strip lines and towels, make bed, clean fridge, wipe surfaces, clean your toilet, tub sink, vacuum, wipe windows mirrors, restock get on hands and knees to wash floor and lug stuff out. 12 rooms a day
    Less than 20 % tip and if they do at $2.00 per day she cleans average 12 rooms per day, 30 min per room 2.4 rooms might tip 2.4 X $2.00 = $4.80

    Her daily take home pay( without deductions or tip sharing) assuming she gets tips at the low end $67.80 up to $100.80 per day

    Waitress at low end $339.00 per day (does not include dinner hour service)

    Housekeeper at high end $100.80 per day

    Would you work that hard for 1/3 OF THE PAY? 12 tubs 12 toilets etc etc.

    Ironically you tip a waitress who does not even cook the food! and usually whether the service is good or not.

    Shame on you and your hate for housekeepers. $2.00 a day is nothing Coffee is more.

  72. Sounds like a good explanation of why not to tip the waitress to me – if working 5 days a week at that rate for 45 weeks a year they’re on $75k/year. Why bother going to university or doing multiple degrees and years of training (as some of us have done to earn a similar wage) if you can get that sort of cash taking food out and clearing plates! Bonkers. Even worse is when the service is mediocre and they still expect a large tip.

  73. As an ex-housekeeper I would say thank you for those that leave tips for us, I appreciate it. It’s a hard work, so hard, I live on pain since I got this job, now just I quit because I can’t stand it, I’m exhausted. Too much for me.
    I want to say if you want leave a tip for housekeeper better give it to her on hands,many of supervisor steal our tips (my ex-co-worker just had a experience with a big tip). Leave it in front desk? They will give to supervisor … so we are in the same point. Better hand to hand.
    Marriot should pay more to the housekeepers, not expect to get salary from tips.

    I cleaned an average of 15-23 rooms with a full kitchen included. They paid me less than $9 and I didn’t have time for take a break, I had to eat my snacks between rooms.

  74. I am a house keeper not at this Hotel, but another. We work extremely hard, and sometimes the rooms are a disaster. Yes we do have top envelopes, and they have always annoyed me. To get a top makes my day. We get treated horribly by the supervisor with made up stories. Her saying things were not done when they were. Her taking things from rooms, and saying they were not there. This really brings me down. I believe she even steals tips, and replaces them with hardly nothing. She makes out life a living hell. When someone tips, it makes a house keepers day. It makes them know the guest appreciated their work. One would have to do house keeping just to know exactly how hard it is. The wages are low, and they do not get treated well.

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